Did you transition into UX from another field/industry?


We’re doing some research into UX career transitions. Did you move into UX from another industry?

Tell us your story…


Didn’t you ask this question before? :thinking:


Well remembered. I did ask it out of curiosity in the past, but we are now doing formal research so I’m asking again. :slight_smile:


I started with BAs in Graphic and Interactive design, mostly working as a dual graphic/web designer. Much later, I got my Masters in Interactive Media hoping to get a step up the career ladder, but that’s not really happening. I put UI/UX Designer on my CV, but I’ve mostly had to be a design generalist who knows how to use Sketch.

As a web designer, I was always informally doing UX design beyond what items the marketing director told me had to be in the nav. The Masters just refined the philosophy and goals. I’m not even sure how much of a “transition” I’ve done when it comes to daily work duties except for what software I use more.


web development > web and graphic design > UX


My career has been a very twisted journey.

  1. Fitter & Machinist, and CNC Programmer
  2. Salesperson
  3. Insurance Worker
  4. Graphic Designer
  5. UI Designer
  6. UX




Front-End Dev > UX Designer

I thought the transition would be easy since I already understood all the concepts and had some UX work in my portfolio. It ended up taking a year and a half to land a full-time UX job. The hard work and perseverance paid off. I’m in a much happier place now.


Undergraduate with creative writing degree > Office Manager > Webmaster > Front-end Developer > UX Professional (Sr. UX Designer > UX Architect)


Sports Journalist -> Retail Store Operations Manager -> Call Center Rep -> Senior Call Center Rep -> Corporate Trainer -> Learning Design Developer -> Corporate Communications -> Software Engineer -> Digital Signage Design & Development -> Digital Signage Design & Development Team Lead -> UX Engineer.

It’s been a long road that included being homeless, living out of the back of my car, teaching design classes at 2 AM, and now settling down to a full-time UX career in FinTech.


I did graphic design, motion graphics, web design and advertising work, sometimes overlapping for about 12 years. I also have a traditional art background. During my advertising days and while doing web design I started to become more interested in how people were using the sometimes pretty work I and my coworkers would design. When I got the chance to do my first wireframes back in 2007/2008 I jumped all over it, though I didn’t know what I was doing in hindsight but interestingly enough they were annotated wires. Those wires just kept ramping up into more complex and demanding opportunities and UX deliverables, including user interviews and research. I’ve since dropped the hybrid/multidisciplinary title and have largely focused on UX Research, Design and Strategy for the last 8 years.

As I look back there were signs I ignored all along. My mom is a career psychologist. I won an interesting award in elementary school that speaks to the empathy I personally believe UX designers need. My dad bought my sister and I the Encyclopedia Britannica when we were younger and was BIG on us researching topics daily and telling him what we learned when he got home. I’m annoyingly curious and ask a lot of questions, about everything. I genuinely enjoy helping people and solving problems but not always in the context of what is traditionally defined as UX work.


humanities refugee > brick mason > failed freelance designer > jr baby ‘full stack’ dev > account manager / project manager > am/pm + ux design > ux consultant

i did read “tell us your story” tho… so here’s some of that

i spent 14 years in construction, i’m a licensed brick mason.

i got physically sick and couldn’t do labor anymore, wasn’t in love with the admin and sales side of the work at all. in fact i had no connections or chops to make sales. i also was non-union and couldn’t just jump into a higher profile company - or at least i thought. looking back i had more options than i knew. but - you don’t know what you don’t know.

was able to put together some passive income, juuuuust enough to be ramen profitable :smiley:

i spent that time of my life scared af. i thought i was dying, which wasn’t even the worst thing that could happen to me. i thought i would be dying, and also a financial and emotional burden on my family who were already struggling.

i started learning whatever i could, seeing what would stick. khan academy math courses, thinking i might go back to school and test out of math courses i hadn’t taken since the early 2000s. this was a really scary and dark time in my life, but whoa boy did i zero in my focus. i quite seriously cut everything out of my life that wasn’t helping me find a career.

i ended up slipping back into dev, thinking i could lean on my mid 90’s design chops if needed. i had learned html/css as a 12 year old, was pretty good tactically with creative suite (you used to make websites in adobe by slicing PSDs, btw :smile: ), and had generally been into this between 12-17. but i had largely considered this stuff to behind me though, i really had a ‘been there done that’ kind of attitude to it before deciding to jump back in.

i would have to check the hospital records to be sure, but it was maybe 8 months of all-day sessions in my kitchen studying, coding, breaking everything, losing patience (repeat) until i landed an internship as a developer at a super scrappy startup. i worked for free for a long time, which i always hear not to do, but whatever i was desperate, and no one was paying me to sit in my kitchen either. at least this way i was working with a 23 year old full stack dev black belt. this stuff just made sense to him, and he was generous and friendly. he also had a super bright attitude which helped motivate me. it was worth a lot then.

eventually, a big company made him a really good offer and he left. the scrappy startup took a nose dive - i couldn’t replace him.

somehow, through like 2 levels of acquaintances, really happenstance stuff, i got an interview at a small agency that had just hit a big growth spurt. like, a month later after sending several reminder emails, i got the interview and walked in thinking i was applying as a front-end dev/ designer. turns out they outsourced all that, and they needed an “account manager”

it paid like shit, but it paid! i was making my first regular income. this became the am/pm + ux role.

i’ll end this here unless asked otherwise. it’s late.


@mrcn That’s a fascinating story! Would like to read the continuation…


@mrcn - I’m with @AnLev. I’d love to hear more of your story.


I got into UX early. I was a valuation researcher at Price Waterhouse before the merger with Coopers and Lybrand. Because of the state of research during the early web, a lot of my focus was on new technologies and platforms for delivering research to dispersed teams. During this time I was close to a manager in the printing and presentations shop who was starting a nonprofit design company for volunteer designers. I joined the group and eventually was a board member. At the time of the PwC merger in 1997 I had just had my first child and had left the valuation group. I was freelancing as a researcher and did some web design work for nonprofits. By that time the manager I knew moved to the global website team at PwC and he hired me as a web operations manager. It was mostly technical, performance reporting, link management, databases and lead management via the contact us page. By 2002 the department went through downsizing and I went back to freelancing. I learned about information architecture and realized that there was a name for the approach I was using. I joined the IA Institute as their operations manager for ten years while continuing to freelance. After going back for a MSLIS I’ve done mostly UX research and started a financial wellness company.


The similarities I’ve found along my journey — ID & UXD

There is a number of overlaps I’ve found between both industries. This not a definitely not a comprehensive list, but merely an overview of the most common parallels.

  1. Research
    In both fields we utilise research methodologies like ethnography, storyboarding, user journey mapping, interviewing, surveying, diary studies, observation etc. We have the same research goal; to learn as much about the end user as possible. User research offers both fields the opportunity to design experiences that satisfy the user’s true needs, leaving them with an experience that exceeds their expectations and creates long term engagement.
  2. Ideation
    In both fields we generate, develop, and communicating new ideas. Ideation in both disciplines comprises all stages of a thought cycle, from innovation, to development, to actualisation. As such, it is an essential part of the design process. Ive found in both fields that I have ideated through journey maps, sketches, moodboards, prototypes and similar artifacts.
  3. Evaluation & validation
    In both fields we evaluate and validate customers (do we have a customer?) problems (does this problem actually exist?), concepts (does this solve the problem?), experiences (does this solution present any problems?) and technical validation (code / manufacturing). In both fields this can be done with user interviews, observation, sketching, prototyping and testing.
  4. The end goal
    In both fields the end goal is the exact same, we want to create a great product that satisfies our users needs. The medium we use to achieve this may be different, but the goal remains the same.


I love this comparative summary! People often ask me if I regret the time I spent studying architecture and I always say no, because it informed so much of the work that I do now, but I hadn’t clarified my thinking around that as much as you have.


I’m currently doing so now. I’ve worked in many fields, but never felt I was doing meaningful work. Also, was tired of working “jobs” and I hoped I would be in a “career” but fate thought otherwise. Worked Higher Education as a mentor/Academic Advisor (was trying to get back into this; didn’t work out), Retail (said I wouldn’t do it, but the economy said otherwise), Accounts Payable (actually enjoyed it, but the people in my workplace and their attitudes/behaviors tested my mental health in ways I never thought I would have to deal with), and now pre-settlement finance (disliked it the moment I started and for me, essentially left one place for a worse one (in some ways of course)).

Came across UX by chance. Was desperate for a career change and found a super in depth career test and resulted in fields such as web developer, game developer, etc… As a “here’s some other suggestions”, UX came up and I had never heard of it before. Did some digging and some research and I thought it was interesting because I seemed to have some interest in QA (but didn’t know how to get into it). So I took a short free class to make sure this was something I wanted to do, then bam it happened.

Signed up for CareerFoundry back in May and still doing their course with an expected finish date (with specializations) in April/May.

That’s my story, a bit winded as it may be.


Hey, I did. I was IT engineer in the healthcare industry for 20 years. I had to retrain following some formal university study in webdesign and read a lot (books, forum, specialised website).
I have them at first worked as UX/UI but more UI and get the chance to build a portfolio where I could showcase my thinking. I am now a pure UX designer and love it.