Getting the skills and experience needed for user experience jobs
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Published on January 11, 2015
If you are looking to break into the user experience field, there are several ways you can get the skills and experience you need to get a job in the UX field. You can start with introductory UX classes and user experience workshops, or take a comprehensive UX certificate program and you’ll also need to gain some related professional experience as well.
Gaining UX skills through education
If you’ve never had any formal UX training, you’ll want to start with foundation level skills, such as UX theory and principles. UX training programs such as an Introduction to UX Design Principles course, provide a solid foundation for anyone interested in a career in UX, and even for practicing professionals who have not had any formal training or recent training. Live UX classes are a great way to also network with other professionals working in the field. You can also go beyond individual courses, and enroll in a comprehensive UX certificate program.
If you don’t have the time or budget for a UX course, you can always turn to some user experience books, such as UX Design: Foundations for Designing Online User Experiences, Don’t Make Me Think, or 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know about People.
Gaining experience in the UX field
Along with having received formal UX training, employers or prospective clients generally expect you to bring previous experience to your role as a UX professional. While experienced UX professionals are in demand, you will need to have previous work to be considered for the best opportunities. Gaining experience in the UX field if you don’t yet have a UX job is possible. Work you may have done in similar industries, such as graphic design or website design, may be of value, allowing you to start in an entry level positions. Similarly, working on solo projects, such as creating apps or websites on your own or for small firms in order to build your experience in the UX field. Finding someone in an existing user experience role who is willing to serve as a mentor can provide you with guidance and career advice.
Once you have the education and experience in the UX field, you should create an online portfolio. You’ll also want to make sure that you don’t neglect your website or blog, describing any UX work you’ve completed and experience you’ve gained. Also don’t forget to update your LinkedIn and Twitter profiles to incorporate any of your user experience skills, creating a positive impression regarding your new found UX skills and experience.
About the author
Jennifer Smith is a user experience designer, Photoshop expert, educator and author based in Boston. She is the author of more than 20 books on design tools and processes, including Adobe Creative Cloud for Dummies, Adobe Creative Cloud Digital Classroom, and Photoshop Digital Classroom. She has been awarded a Microsoft MVP three times for her work with user experience design in creating apps for touch, desktop, and mobile devices.
Jennifer delivers UX training and UX consulting for large Fortune 100 companies, small start-ups, and independent software vendors. She has been hired by Adobe and Microsoft to deliver training workshops to their staff, and has traveled to Asia, Europe, India, the Middle East, and across the U.S. to deliver courses and assist on UX design projects. She has extensive knowledge of modern Windows UX Design, having worked closely with the Windows team to create educational material and deliver UX workshops to key partners globally on behalf of Microsoft. Jennifer works with a wide range of prototyping tools including Fireworks, Photoshop, Illustrator, Blend for Visual Studio, and Balsamiq.