User experience design shapes the world around us — from the technology in your car to the apps you use on your phone. It involves research, creativity, and testing and can help businesses increase brand awareness and trust. So it’s no surprise UX designers are in high demand.
As an aspiring designer, you might be tempted by the opportunities a career in UX design offers — decent salaries, a variety of roles to choose from, and the freedom to work from anywhere in the world.
UX design jobs are available across most industries, including healthcare, tech, and advertising. So if you’re passionate about a particular sector, UX design can be a great in-road to an exciting new career.
It’s no wonder Glassdoor named UX design one of the top 50 career choices of 2022.
Whether you’re a design student weighing up your options for the future or someone who’s tempted by a career change, it’s important to ask yourself what kind of designer you want to be before diving straight into a career in UX design.
This article will cover the factors to consider when deciding whether UX design is the right career path for you.
Is UX design a good career fit?
UX design is different from user interface (UI) design, visual design, and graphic design, so you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the differences between them.
While UX and UI design are closely related (and many designers do both), UI design focuses specifically on the point at which a person interacts with a device — such as an app, game, or website.
UX design looks at the bigger picture, focusing on the customer’s experience and interaction with the brand and its products at every step of the journey.
Now that you’re clear on what it is — and isn’t — let’s take a look at some of the qualities you will need to become a successful UX designer.
You’re both creative and logical
They say that Tesla’s brilliance lay in the fact that he could visualize his inventions in such detail that he could test them in his mind without even sketching them.
Of course, no one’s expecting you to be the next Tesla. However, this story illustrates the synergy and interplay between logic and creativity that lie behind successful UX design.
So if you’re a problem-solving, left-brained person who also happens to have a strong creative streak, you will probably find UX design a fulfilling career.
Working in UX design will allow you to use both your logical and creative sides to find practical solutions to your users’ needs that are functional, intuitive, accessible, and aesthetically pleasing.
An interest in tech is also a major advantage for entering the UX design field, although technical skills — such as coding — aren’t strictly necessary (but they can help). You can gain the skills you need to launch a successful UX design career through online UX design courses, tutorials, and certifications.
You want to make an impact
UX professionals solve people’s real-life problems — including the seemingly insignificant ones that can make a huge difference in some people’s lives.
So it’s important to want to help people — whether those people are shoppers, people at a bar or restaurant, patients in a hospital, or wheelchair users. Through UX design, you can impact people’s lives in many different contexts.
If you have a gift for empathy and the idea of understanding users’ needs and putting them first interests you, then UX design will likely be a great choice.
You want a career with growth opportunities
A career in UX design offers pretty much unlimited opportunities for learning, growth, and development. Thanks to the extensive and innovative nature of this field, UX designers rarely get bored.
There are many different areas of UX design that you can specialize in, including product design, customer experience design, information architecture, UX research, and service design.
Even if you do get bored and decide UX design is no longer for you, you will have gained a ton of transferable skills that you can use in other areas, including:
- Design thinking
- User research
- Usability testing
- Critical thinking
- Visual communication
- Writing and strong communication skills
These can set you up well for a career in other fields, such as marketing, graphic design, web design, and software development.
You’re a team player
Collaboration is the name of the game in UX design. As a UX designer, you’ll often be working within a design team as well as constantly interacting with other teams and team members, including product development, sales, marketing, web development, and more.
You will also be required to conduct user research and align your work with stakeholder requirements — so being a team player is a must.
You have an eye for detail
Because UX design comprises so many different elements of functionality and aesthetics, having a sharp eye for detail is an absolute must.
If you’re not much of a stickler for detail, UX design may not be for you.
Money isn’t your only motivation
Everyone is motivated by money (and there’s nothing wrong with that), but it shouldn’t be your primary motivating factor behind pursuing a career in UX design.
Although UX designer salaries tend to be higher than those of other types of designers, the pay range varies depending on the company, country, and job requirements.
UX design also tends to be more labor-intensive than other types of design work, which is reflected in the higher average salary. So while the money can be a motivating factor, it’s important to ask yourself what you want from your work.
If you’re not particularly passionate about UX design but do it just for the money, you likely won’t get far in your career. Either you’ll lack the passion to do it well, you’ll never move up in your career, or you’ll jack it in completely and move on to something else.
You’re prepared to learn
Getting started in UX design is a steep learning curve, so make sure you’re keen and willing to learn. Mastering the basics of UX design is only the first step — you’ll then need to upskill continuously to stay on top of emerging trends and technologies — and stay relevant to employers and clients.
Aligning your career with your goals
One of the ways to determine if a UX design career is right for you is to analyze how well it aligns with your goals. For example:
Scenario #1: Money may not be your only motivation, but you may still choose a UX design career because it pays well — as long as you’re passionate about the work.
Scenario #2: You’re at a point in your life where you don’t want to keep switching careers. A UX design job can provide long-term job security, especially as companies increasingly recognize the importance of design.
Scenario #3: You dream of the digital nomad lifestyle or just want a job that gives you greater flexibility to move around or set your own schedule.
While this isn’t a guarantee, many UX designers work remotely from anywhere in the world. Alternatively, you can become a freelancer and set your own rules about where you work and when.
Get started with the fundamentals of UX design
If, by now, you’re chomping at the bit to land your first UX design role, you’ll need to get familiar with the basics of the design process and what it entails. A good place to start is this checklist for becoming a UX designer. UX design can be an exciting, fulfilling, and dynamic career option filled with possibilities, meaning, and growth. If you decide it’s the right path for you, Playbook has more resources that will help you along the way — such as these seven tips to grow your career as a junior UX designer.