Career Change to UX... HELP!

Hey everybody,

I’m 31 years old and from San Francisco. As the title says, I am looking to make a career change from being a Realtor to a UX designer. I have been in real estate for three years now (both working on my and assisting top Realtors). I have slowly realized that the cut throat 100% commission life of a Realtor is not for me. However, in the process I have realized that I really like marketing, and feel that it appeals to my maticulous/OCD nature.

A little about me, I am outgoing, I have a BA in Sociology from San Jose State University, and have an offer active imagination. I have been watching videos on YouTube about UX and I am very interested in this side of business.

I have an interview tomorrow with Tradecraft for their 3-month boot camp. I have heard good things about their programs, but it is quite expensive ($14k). I am the type of person that likes more structure and to show to a school or job, and appreciate more human interaction. Does anyone have any thoughts on attending this program?

Also, if there is some way if finding an “apprenticeship” or starting as an admin worker to gain some experience I would be interested in that, too. The program seems great, however, I would prefer to still be working while attending a part-time class or something similar in nature. SF, as you know, is very expensive and I am getting married in October. If I were to start the July academy I would prefer to not be fresh out of school and unemployed before getting married.

I really want to learn more and improve my professional career. What would you all recommend for getting started? Does Tradecraft seems like a good idea? Or is there a way to get started working full-time in that field, and take night classes?

As you can tell, I’m pretty clueless in this field. Thanks for your time everyone!!


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I had actually never heard of Tradecraft – I’d be interested to hear whether others have (and I’m especially interested to hear back from you on how it goes). Google tells me that it’s a start-up/business immersion program, rather than a UX curriculum, so that would explain it.

I note that Laura Klein is one of the instructors. I rate Laura highly.

So what is your goal here? To become a UXer, or to start your own business (or both)? If it’s the former, then I don’t think Tradecraft is the best starting point. You’d likely be better learning the basics of UX and design. If it’s either of the latter, then it will definitely be valuable, but probably not top priority.

We can recommend some UX immersion programs if you’d like to go down that road.

Congratulations on your upcoming wedding. That’s exciting. :slight_smile:

Hi Hawk,

Thanks for the response, and thanks for clarifying Tradecraft. I kind of thought it wasn’t right, but my friend insisted. Thus the informational interview tomorrow. I am definitely interested in some UX immersion programs, especially if they’re in San Francisco. Would you know which ones are the best? Also, are there any free web sites you can suggest just to get my feet wet?

No worries at all!

First of all, check out this thread which is all about UX training.

Then take a look at our list of online courses here. Some are free and others are paid.

Then, have a read of this article. If you’re interested in the book, I’ll send a discount your way via email in a sec.

Once you’ve done all that, come back here armed with your new questions and I’ll send you in the right direction. :slight_smile:

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Thanks Hawk. After going through the links, I was initially leaning towards California College of the Arts (for Interaction Design), but I don’t have 3+ years and that kind of money for an expensive tuition. Now I’m starting to think one of Design Lab’s programs would better suit me, so long as I can get a job after completion.

Basically, I want to go to the best program, and get a job asap. I’m 31 years old, and don’t have the time to go back to school full-time, plus I’m kind of freaking out that I’m making a career change right now. I wish I would’ve found Interaction Design 10 years ago.

Would one of Design Lab’s programs help me achieve the goal of getting a job asap?

Thanks for your time everybody.

Have you stumbled across this topic yet? It goes into detail on the pros and cons of each course.

It is my understanding that the DesignLab UX Academy offers job support.

Let’s call in @chrisoliver and @jdebari for their input.

The only program of DesignLab’s that would offer job support is their UX Academy. The job support is new so I am not sure how successful it is, but I am sure @joncerri could email them and ask. CareerFoundry also supposedly has some job support as well.
Hope that helps!

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Thanks Julia. Always appreciated!

I never ended up taking the UX Academy, so I’m not sure how their job support works.

Great, thanks so far for the help everyone!

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Hello! I am also in the SF Bay Area and I am interested in pursuing user experience! Currently, I am looking into Designlab’s class. Let me know if you end up taking it, we can form a study group or something.

Thanks again everybody. Pretty sure I’m going to do the part-time DesignLab UX Academy. Time to hustle, baby!

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I did the General Assembly full time course in Sydney and found a job a few days after finishing the course, as did a number of other people from the class. Personally I would really recommend it for career switchers who already have a bit of relevant experience, and who already know how to think critically.

I have heard some good things about the course in SF too.

Thanks kacheekmonstar. I’m starting to lean more towards Design Lab’s 6-month part-time course. The reviews were a little better plus I kind of just like how their site is set up. I have to take a leap so I’m going to start by taking their Design 101 prerequisite class. It’s time for a power move. I’m tired of sales, and working other dead end jobs. I’m very outgoing, love psych/soci, and am very particular/borderline OCD (lol) so I feel this could be a good fit for me. I will find out. Thanks again!

Yay, it must feel good to have made a decision.
Make sure you keep us in the loop. :slight_smile:

DesignLab is an online-only course right? If so, my advice would be…make sure that you’re the kind of person who learns well online (i.e. have extremely high self discipline, very proactive, good at finding out answers yourself).

And be aware of the gaps you will have compared to taking a physical in-person course, e.g. design presentation, working in a team, managing stakeholders, facilitating workshops, which are all extremely important skills that most UX designers need to have.

I did the CareerFoundry course (6 months part time, 3 months full time) and found that it wasn’t for me, whereas there seems to be plenty of positive testimonials online. The DesignLab course does look like it offers more support than CareerFoundry though.

Maybe a good thing to do to complement your online learning would be to network with UXers in real life, e.g. go to Meetups, get a mentor, ask for internships at places that have UX designers.


It is, but they have weekly mentor Skypes which keep you on track.

Great advice though. People often don’t take into consideration how stressful it can be if you fall behind in an online course. Sometimes it feels like it might be an easy option.

Have you considered how your current career could blend in to a UX role? As a realtor I would presume you are good at communicating with people and figuring out their needs. Could you maybe start out by developing a niche working for the realtor sector?

@kacheekmonstar, Yah I was a little nervous about it being completely online. That being said I still have a little more time to decide since I am starting their prereq course on July 15 (6-weeks, and 6 hours a week). I figure that will be a good way to gauge myself in an online program. I would definitely much rather have the 6-month part-time course in person, but there just isn’t much out there… AND I live in SF! But it does seem like they help you out and keep you on track being that you meet up with mentors regularly on Skype. I’ll be sure to keep y’all posted.


@kacheekmonstar Also, did you find work after your course? Do you have a background in computers/design/etc.?

@rachelreveley That’s a great idea. There are definitely a lot of things that can be improved in RE, especially in SF. Just between us, Realtors aren’t the brightest people? :wink: What do you expect from a bunch of sales people.

I am very passionate about real estate, and it just drove me nuts how disorganized the business as a whole is. I’m excited for my prereq course so I can learn some techniques. I feel I can have a real niche in that area. Thanks for the advice.