Do you need a Master’s in UX for that mid-career switch?

SOURCE: Josh Edelson / AFP
Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks on-stage during a product launch event.

By U2B Staff 

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User Experience or UX for short is a growing field and UX designer jobs are one of the fastest-growing careers globally.

The term UX was originally coined by former Apple Vice President Donald Norman, “I invented the term because I thought human interface and usability were too narrow. I wanted to cover all aspects of the person’s experience with the system including industrial design, graphics, the interface, the physical interaction, and the manual.”

User Experience in Design today has evolved but the essence of it remains the same, it is a type of design skill that revolves around the understanding of the end-user of a product. The applications of UX are far-reaching, is fundamental to the product value chain for any business including technology.

UX Design acts as a checkpoint at each stage of product development, ensuring that the design solutions will provide benefits for the business and most importantly end users.

Ultimately, a good User Experience Designer creates a positive experience for users by understanding and fulfilling their needs.

A career in UX is rewarding, as reports show that the average salary across 107 countries is $52,683. This number is higher in wealthier regions, such as in the US, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Australia, and Western Europe. The average salary for a career in UX is reportedly the highest in Switzerland at $100,890.

More importantly, a career in UX is said to be highly rewarding. Additionally, the need for UX professionals is steadily rising. According to the Onward Search Digital, Creative and Marketing Professionals Salary Guide, UX designer comes in as the second most in-demand role for 2019.

According to a report published by global professional services recruitment consultancy Morgan McKinley, the number of UX jobs in the market has increased by 320% in the last five years.


What do UX designers do?

UX designers are responsible for the entire experience a user has when interacting with a website, digital application (app), or other products. These individuals may work on improving existing products or could be a part of developing new products from scratch.

In industry, UX designers are also sometimes referred to as User Experience Strategists or Information Architects. Regardless of title, professionals in charge of User Experience focus on the many areas of solutions, and product design and development.

These responsibilities include conducting user research, building personas, developing information architectures, drawing wireframes, conducting user and usability testing, and creating visual designs.


Upskilling yourself for a career in User Experience design

There are many ways for mid-career professionals to hop onto the UX design bandwagon. These programmes can be completed in a relatively short amount of time, completely online and do not cost that much.

One of the popular and preferred options for upskilling yourself in this field is through UX Bootcamps. CourseReport has listed top online boot camps for User Experience in Design in 2020. These online UX boot camps offered by course providers such as Bloc, Brainsation, Designation, General Assembly, and Thinkful can be completed on a part-time basis.

Online courses in UX are also offered by CareerFoundry, Designlab, General Assembly, Thinkful, and Springboard. Online boot camps and online programmes provide a general overview of the skills needed for an individual to start off a career in this filed.

It is also worthy to note that there are options for individuals who already hold a bachelor’s degree to obtain a Master’s in UX, on top of a pre-earned bachelor’s degree.


Should you opt for a Masters in UX?

The questions many mid-career professionals who want to switch to a career in UX would be this, is a Master’s Degree in User Experience worth doing?

While ultimately User Experience in Design jobs are more about the experience than getting a high-level qualification in the field, some degree of a formal qualification can be beneficial for those who are switching fields.

It is important to understand that while UX designer is a common term, there are specialised roles within the filet that are a great fit for professionals who own a master’s degree in this field. In fact, some career options for User Experience in Design Master’s degree holders are as a user experience designer, user experience researchers, and user interface designer.

Master’s degree holders in these fields can land roles in huge industries including consulting, educational services, government agencies, healthcare, and even marketing.

A good online Master’s in User Experience in Design should equip students with relevant knowledge as well as the technical and soft skill sets that complement existing on-the-job experience.

These programmes are more suitable for those who are seeking to graduate from the programme to assume roles as User Experience in Design expert or become leaders in the field.

More importantly, UX designers are hired for their experience and portfolios, so a solid programme should include hands-on research and innovation opportunities. A good programme should also be coupled with strong mentorship opportunities that allow the individual to undertake networked study between residences.