How to Become a UX Designer

Brandi Glass
9 min read
Concentrated male entrepreneur analyzing project standing near whiteboard in modern workspace

When a digital product or service exceeds your expectations, it’s likely the work of a competent UX designer. UX designers make sure that when you navigate a website, scroll through an app, or purchase a product, you have the best experience possible without issues or confusion.

If you want to know how to become a UX Designer but don’t know where to start, we have it covered. From essential skills and education to career prospects and day-to-day responsibilities, we review everything you need to know to help you determine if this profession is right for you.

What is a UX Designer?

UX means User Experience, and a UX designer crafts and enhances your experience when interacting with a product or service. UX designers place user needs and expectations at the core of their process.

Their goal is to create intuitive, engaging, and satisfying experiences that serve a purpose. UX designers blend research, psychology, design principles, and technical knowledge to map out user journeys while identifying pain points and generating solutions.

What Does a UX Designer Do?

A UX Designer’s role is to view a product from the perspective of a company’s target audience, address their needs, and craft a positive and intuitive experience that drives user engagement. They understand user needs through research, interviews, tests, and surveys. Then, they take this information, synthesize it, and create detailed user personas and scenarios.

UX designers generate information architecture, organizing and structuring content to facilitate navigation and comprehension.

They create wireframes and prototypes that serve as blueprints for the final product, showcasing its layout, structure, and functionality. Additionally, they collaborate with UI Designers, Developers, and Product Managers to create functional and visually appealing products.

Once they finish with their product, they continually monitor its performance post-release, making improvements when necessary to enhance user satisfaction and encourage user loyalty. If you want to know how to become a UX designer, you need to start with learning about these factors.

How to Become a UX Designer

To become a UX designer, you need knowledge, practical skills, and software proficiency. You can start by familiarizing yourself with design principles and UX design methodologies like user research, information architecture, prototyping, and usability testing. If you don’t have a degree, you can learn from free or paid online resources or by taking courses and attending workshops.

With practice, you can start gaining hands-on experience and building your portfolio. Whether you want to work in a company or as a freelancer, you need a portfolio to showcase your work. The more you work on your portfolio and improve your knowledge, the likelier you’ll find a high-paying job or customers.

How Long Does It Take to Become a UX Designer?

Depending on your approach and pace, it takes a few months to four years to become proficient in UX design. If you have a design background, it’s easier to transition to a UX design role. But if you don’t have experience, getting used to design principles and UX methodologies might take time.

How Long is UX Designer Training?

Training by taking a crash course differs from getting a degree. Depending on the program, completing your training and starting work can take several months to a few years. Self-learning using online courses, books, and tutorials gives you more flexibility if you are doing something on the side as you learn, but it also requires discipline and commitment to maintain your pace. A college degree is the most time-consuming when it comes to your options. Still, it leads to more substantial results when recruiters review your UX designer resume instead of certification.

A Day in the Life of a UX Designer

Focused female employee reading information on computer in office

As a UX designer, your day usually starts with reviewing and prioritizing your tasks. If you work in a company, you will attend team meetings and collaborate with Product Managers, UI Designers, and Developers to discuss project progress.

Your day involves heavy user research, data analysis, and synthesizing insights to inform your design decisions. You’ll also perform usability tests and analyze the results to improve and enhance your designs. Continuous learning is a significant part of your daily routine because industry standards constantly change. Designs become outdated, user expectations change, and industry standards evolve. Part of being a good UX designer means keeping up with the ever-changing tides, and making sure you have the most current information to meet user expectations.

UX Designer Salary: How Much Does a UX Designer Make?

The average UX designer makes $76,429 annually.

The lowest earners make $24,000, while the highest earners make in the six figures at $145,000 annually. This number also depends on where you live, as salaries differ between states. Your education and experience factor into this number as well.

UX Designer Salary Ranges

Depending on your experience, below are the most common UX designer salary ranges:

  • UX Designer Salary: $24,000 - $145,000.
  • Entry-level UX Designer Salary: $24,000 - $93,000
  • Senior UX Designer Salary: $94,000 - $154,000

How Much Does a UX Designer Make an Hour?

If you make $93,000 a year, your hourly wage is $45.19. If your annual salary is $70,000, your hourly rate is $33.65. Higher earners who make $154,000 a year make $74.04.

Is Becoming a UX Designer a Good Fit for Me?

Being a UX designer is enjoyable for someone with specific skill sets and emotional intelligence. You must be passionate about problem-solving because design involves complexities and user issues. It’s also essential to have a healthy interest in design and technology, with a firm grasp of design principles and digital tools. Moreover, a keen interest in design and technology and staying updated with industry trends is essential.

UX Designers work closely with various stakeholders, so they need excellent communication and collaboration skills. If you like solving problems, have a knack for design and technology, and don’t mind spending long hours behind a PC, this job may be a great fit.

Where Can a UX Designer Work?

You can work in numerous settings because this role continues to experience high demand. Some places include large tech companies, software development firms, digital marketing agencies, and e-commerce businesses. You can also work in various sectors like finance, healthcare, education, and government, where design services are increasingly essential for user engagement.

Other places include startups, small businesses, and nonprofit organizations. If you prefer working alone, UX design gives you an excellent opportunity to work with clients on a standalone basis. Freelancing gives you more flexibility and allows you to work on diverse projects across multiple industries. With so many opportunities, you can choose the work environment and industry that best aligns with your interests, time constraints, responsibilities, and values.

How to Apply for UX Designer Jobs

Crop person making notes in notepad

Now that you know how to become a UX designer, it’s time to find a job. Applying to UX Designer jobs involves a multi-step process that starts with understanding the requirements in the UX designer job description. Take note of any keywords or phrases that describe the company’s ideal candidate, as you will want to incorporate these into your resume.

UX designer resumes are the documents that recruiters see first before they get a chance to meet candidates. Many designers make the grave mistake of designing a resume with unusual fonts and designs to demonstrate creativity. This is a big mistake as most companies nowadays use Applicant Tracking Systems to organize their recruitment process. With a non-standard resume, you may lose out on a significant opportunity since ATS systems don’t read their formats. That’s where Rocket Resume comes in.

With Rocket Resume, all you need to do is choose a suitable template and answer the prompts. In minutes, you’ll have a professional resume without hassles, guaranteed to pass ATS systems seamlessly.

Remember to craft a tailored UX Designer resume from Rocket Resume highlighting your skills, experience, and accomplishments. Additionally, you need a crisp and modern portfolio website or document to display your work, process, and capabilities.

Along with your resume, create a compelling UX Designer cover letter that highlights your passion for the field. You can browse UX designer cover letter example templates for inspiration. Before submitting your application, research the difference between a UX Researcher vs UX Designer to ensure that you are applying for the proper role. UX Researchers concentrate on gathering insights through user research, whereas UX Designers implement the actual design and development process.

Prepare for a potential UX Designer interview by reviewing common interview questions and practicing your responses. Be ready to discuss your design process and explain your rationale behind specific design decisions. Employers ask questions about your process and rationale to understand how you approach projects. An aesthetically pleasing portfolio without a concept won’t work well in the long run.

By creating a portfolio, using a resume template from Rocket Resume, and preparing for interviews, you’ll soon land an exciting design career.

Rocket Resume UX Designer Template

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How to become a UX designer with no experience?

Start by building your foundational knowledge of design principles and UX design methodologies. You can do this with online resources, books, and articles. Software plays a significant role in your field. You can learn how to use any software online, but working with this software is just as important as theoretical knowledge. If you are able, try taking specialized courses and attending workshops. The guidance of an expert helps you refine your method and accelerates the learning process. Finally, practice and practice often, familiarizing yourself with key concepts like information architecture, prototyping, and usability testing.

What degree do you need to be a UX designer?

You do not need a specific degree to become a UX designer. However, some degrees relate to the field more than others, like graphic design, visual communication design, computer science, and information technology. The key to entering the field is acquiring skills through formal education, self-paced learning, and hands-on experience. By demonstrating your understanding of UX design principles, processes, and tools, you can pursue a career in UX design regardless of your degree.

How long does it take to become a UX designer?

It can take a few months to up to four years to become a UX designer. This time frame depends on your background, learning style, and how much time you take to build your skills.

What makes a good UX designer?

A good UX Designer has strong problem-solving skills, user empathy, and a deep understanding of design principles and methodologies. They communicate and collaborate effectively with team members and stakeholders, demonstrating adaptability when changes affect their pace. Good UX designers also take pride in their work, staying updated with the newest technologies and taking time for continuous learning and growth.

How to become a freelance UX designer?

Freelance UX designer requirements include developing a solid portfolio showcasing your work and illustrating your design process. Then, it’s time to market your skills by establishing a strong online presence. Online and offline networking is crucial for finding freelance opportunities, so engage with the design community, attend industry events, and build relationships with other professionals. Finally, browse websites that help connect you to customers looking for miscellaneous projects. Some opportunities on these sites pay good money, but you will have many competitors.

What skills does a UX designer need?

UX designers need strong problem-solving abilities and a firm understanding of design principles. They should be proficient in user research, information architecture, wireframing, prototyping, and usability testing. Effective communication and collaboration skills are essential; they often work closely with other team members and stakeholders. Finally, they must be familiar with design and prototyping tools and software.

What questions to ask a UX designer in an interview?

In a UX Designer interview, hiring managers ask about the design process, your user research methodologies, experience with wireframing and prototyping tools, and how you handle usability testing and iterations. After viewing your portfolio, they will ask about projects that catch their attention, focusing on design decisions, challenges, and outcomes. Some interviews may include design exercises or case studies to assess your problem-solving skills and practical knowledge.

What is the difference between a UX and UI designer?

The main difference between UI and UX designer roles lies in their part of the design process. UX Designers work on the user’s overall experience, understanding needs and behaviors, creating user personas, designing information architecture, and testing usability.

UI Designers work on a product or service’s visual and interactive aspects. They design layouts, typography, color schemes, and visual elements for a visually appealing and consistent interface. UI Designers also create and implement site buttons, forms, and navigation menus, to help create a seamless experience.

This difference is similar between a product designer vs UX designer. Product designers engage in the entire design process of a product in all of its stages. UX designers concentrate on the practical aspects of the design portion of that process.

How hard is it to become a UX designer?

Becoming a UX Designer can be challenging, requiring developing diverse skills for UX designer roles. If your heart's not in design, problem-solving, and building your skills while constantly adding new ones, it is not the right job for you. But with a commitment to acquire relevant knowledge and blend it with practical experience in your process, you can successfully enter and thrive in the field.

Build your UX Designer resume today with Rocket Resume!