Career prospects for someone in the field of UX without any formal degree?

Hi,

I am trying to change my career path to UX design. I have the following questions. I would be glad if you could answer them so that I could make an informed decision.

  1. I am torn between Designlab and CareerFoundry. Which one would you suggest? I would like to explain my situation here. I am a self-taught graphic designer without any formal degree. So, if I go for one of these courses, will that be enough to get me a full-time job either in the UK or Europe?
    I contacted both the institutes, CareerFoundry promptly responded to me. I haven’t had such response from Designlab (only got a generic reply from a bot and fixed my call with an adviser for next week.
  2. Do you have any idea how they support students who are not from the US or Berlin to find a job? I am aware that Designlab has tied up with some companies which are based in the US. I suppose it will be difficult for someone like me to get a job there.
  3. Also, I have a pc. When I asked about the software/application, the CareerFoundtry adviser said that SKetch is for Mac users. Do you think Sketch or other software is more in demand in the UX industry? Should I switch to a mac?
    Before starting the course, what are the software/applications I should be familiar of as there will not be enough time to learn them while learning UX?
  4. And, I want your honest opinion. Will this be easy for someone like me (who does not have a formal degree, I am planning to enroll to an online graphic design degree this year) to get a full-time job in this field if I have a really good portfolio (but no degree)?

I asked too many questions. Hope you would give me some insights :slight_smile:
Thank you.

Hey there,
Welcome!

This is a pretty common dilemma.

Unfortunately that’s impossible to say. What you really need is experience so as well as taking a course you should be looking for projects to get stuck into. A course is great but it’s not always enough in this competitive job environment. That said, a degree is no guarantee either.

Regarding which course to choose, have a read of this awesome topic by @jdebari

And this topic will help re your Mac question.

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Nothing can guarantee you a job anywhere. What you should focus on is what you can gain from these courses that you can apply in the real world and use that to improve your profile/expertise. They are all good in their own ways. To be realistic with you, that wont be ‘enough’ on it’s own. You need a combination of things to be competitive in any market. There are plenty of self taught, bootcamp designers out there that are doing well. Passion, experience and time spent in the industry is what gets them noticed.

UX design is not just bound to operating systems and software. A lot of it is done in on paper, whitebaords, in person and using other research tools. However, Mac is not necessary especially with Adobe XD, InVision Studio and others now available across Windows. Sketch is still my favourite but that is just my personal preference. They all do the same thing and dont matter much once you get good at the UX and UI process.

No one can tell you. You might be a gifted designer who doesnt ‘need’ all these things to succeed. Or maybe you need some more time and patience to eventually get to where you want to. I will be honest with you, it has taken me more than 3 years to get to a level that I’m now somewhat attractive for the types of jobs I want to work on
I have formal degrees in design and business but I’ve never had to even prove that I ahve these, at some point that aren’t the only thing needed. My friend has no formal educaiton and works for one of the most well known software companies.
The most important things I learnt is network, patience, persistence and network some more. Show off your passion and process.
Create some goals and times you want to achieve those goals in small steps rather than trying to make a giant leap, it will leave you feeling disheartened at the end. I also have a dream of moving to Europe, so you are not alone :slight_smile: You can do it.

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@amrita_jmg CareerFoundry has more international support for jobs than Designlab. Make sure to read their job guaruntee in detail. You need to be in certain metro areas and follow certain criteria.

A degree matters more in Europe than the US. As other posters have said, you really need experience and a great portfolio. Having a graphic design University degree won’t mean much in the UX field.

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Thank you so much for your reply. I am also thinking of taking the CareerFoundtry course (yet to have a chat with the Designlab adviser.) I will remember your words and work really hard to prove myself :slight_smile:

First of all, a Big Thank you for taking your time out to reply to my questions :slight_smile:
I too understand the importance of dedication, patience and more work experience. But one of the other hurdles that might come to me in getting a job either in the UK or Europe is that I am from India currently living in the UK on a dependent visa. I need a sponsor to get a job here. That’s why I have this doubt in mind that would someone hire me without a degree even though I have a kick-ass portfolio. But your words have really encouraged me to give my best and work hard to build a solid portfolio. Hopefully, soon I will be able to share my portfolio with you guys and get some insights.

I have been to some places in Europe and it’s rich and beautiful. I am sure you would love it here. I would also love to move to Berlin someday :slight_smile:

Thank you so much. I have been reading some of the posts here and I am already overwhelmed by the quick responses. I have almost made up my mind to go for the CareerFoundtry course but I have a call with Designlab tomorrow. After that I would be able to make the decision. Thank you once again :slight_smile:

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Let us know what you decide! Best of luck. :slight_smile:

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I’ve been a UXD in the UK since 2007, both full-time and freelance. I’ve worked for lots of different agencies and digital companies, and have recruited junior UX’ers. Based on my experience:

Being self taught

It’s absolutely fine to be self-taught. A lot of UX designers at all levels are self taught. Within the industry, demonstrating what you can do is far more important than formal qualifications. There are 4 main things that employers look for:

  1. A really good understanding of the UX and design process
  2. Real world, practical experience of UX and design tasks
  3. Enthusiasm and excitement for UX, design and digital technology
  4. Good communication and people skills

A note on ‘real world, practical experience’: I don’t mean that you need experience working on professional, commercial projects. You can have worked on projects for a coffee shop, sports club, school, small startup or local business. But what employers do need to see is that you’ve addressed a real design problem and interacted with actual human beings, such as stakeholders and users.

UX Courses

I can’t tell you about the merits of DesignLab or CareerFoundry, but the most important requirements for any course are that they:

  1. Teach you about the whole UX process
  2. Have you working on projects in a team
  3. Have you generating content that you can show in a portfolio

As an example, this case study from a General Assembly course is very impressive:

When I was recruiting, I would definitely have interviewed the person who worked on it.

One final thought on courses. If you want to work in the UK, I’d give serious weight to doing a course in the UK (if you can). The UX design industry operates in its own way here that’s different to the US or mainland Europe. If you’ve been trained by people who work in the UK and done projects with a UK focus, it will reduce any friction in the recruiting process.

Hardware and software

Most UX and UI designers in the UK use Macs, and Sketch is now pretty much the industry standard package for UI design. Again, Mac and Sketch experience will really help you when interviewing for a job. If you’d like to get a head start on your Sketch skills, this course is brilliant and geared for professional designers:

If you have to stick with a PC, I’d focus on learning Adobe XD, which is used in the industry and is frankly a complete rip-off of Sketch. If you know XD well, you’ll be able to pick up Sketch really quickly.

Having said that most designers use Macs and Sketch, they’re also expected to be flexible, with skills and experience in a wide range of:

  • Software (Sketch, Adobe XD and Creative Studio, prototyping tools like Axure and InVision, presentation and documentation software such as MS Office)
  • Hardware and operating systems (Macs, PCs, Android and iOS tablets and phones, lots of different browsers and apps)

And they’re also expected not to reach for the mouse and keyboard first. Talking to people, doing workshops, sketching on paper and whiteboards, and conducting usability testing are all really important skills and most UX designers spend 50% or more of their time away from their computer. Beware of any course that has you learning software or sitting in front of a monitor too much. It’s not teaching you the right skills.

Useful resources

Undercover User Experience Design


Gives an excellent overview of the UX process and skills needed by a UX designer.

Clearleft


Clearleft are one of the leading UX agencies in the UK. Reading their case studies and blog will give you a very good flavour of what UX professional do and the current state of the industry. They’ve also just launched a really detailed professional development framework:

UX Brighton Slack
https://uxbri.slack.com/
A Slack community of UX professional from Brighton, London and beyond. Lots of UX chat and help for newbies from experienced practitioners.

I hope this ‘brain dump’ is helpful for your decision. Good luck! :slight_smile:

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Thank you so much, Michael, for taking your time to reply to my queries. Honestly, I am overwhelmed by the kind of support and guidance I am getting in this community. So, a Big thank you :slight_smile:

In the beginning, I was also looking for a UX design course available in the UK. But, I don’t have the required amount of fund to go for a 3 or 4 years degree. Also, I don’t want to do the popular short courses (2-3 days or weeks). That’s why I looked for courses like DesignLab, CareerFoundtry or General Assembly. But I would really appreciate it if you could suggest any courses available in the UK that you think that I should enroll to.

I am also aware of the fact that in the UK, the industry mostly demands Sketch and Mac. I would definitely love to get one one day. But, before that, I would like to learn the windows software and applications (the reason is mostly because of my tight budget. I am also enrolling to an online degree on Graphic design this year.)

Beware of any course that has you learning software or sitting in front of a monitor too much. It’s not teaching you the right skills.…Thank you for this tip :slight_smile: I also prefer drawing on a notebook first.
I have already bookmarked Clearleft and UX Brighton Slack. Recently I have started reading Don’t Make Me Think. I would definitely read the book you’ve suggested.

Thank you once again for your guidance. I would love to get your feedback on my portfolio one day. Cheers.

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