The product design industry is growing, and so is the UX researcher profession. If you have an analytical mind and an interest in design, then this career might be for you. Read our guide to find out how to become a UX researcher and find the UX researcher career path that best suits your needs. We will include the job outlook, average salary, necessary skills, and more.
What Is a UX Researcher?
A UX researcher is a design expert that collects and analyzes data on user experience. The UX research process uses data analytics and quantitative and qualitative user data to produce the best design strategy. You can learn research methods to do this job and aid the product design process.
As a UX researcher, you perform usability testing, user interviews, comparison testing, and behavioral research to enhance the product development process. The UX research process is essentially a step before user experience design and user interface design execution.
UX Researcher Job Description
The job of a UX researcher involves collecting, identifying, and analyzing target user experience behaviors and patterns for the enhancement of a product’s design. Your job includes recruiting end-users and conducting quantitative and qualitative data collection.
Your job duties also include analyzing and conducting user testing on the collected consumer-centric data. Furthermore, you establish an actionable strategy that works with the product design process, business goals, and optimal user experience. As a UX researcher, you work with several product development and design experts, including product managers.
UX Researcher Salary and Job Outlook
The job outlook and average salary of user experience researchers are high, and investing in this profession provides you with a solid career. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer and information research scientist professions are projected to grow by 15 percent between 2019 and 2029.
According to PayScale, the average annual salary for a user experience researcher is $94,465. PayScale reports that these numbers change based on experience and location. For example, an entry-level UX researcher earns about $71,325 per year.
Top Reasons to Become a UX Researcher in 2021
Becoming a UX researcher in 2021 is a rewarding professional investment that provides you with job opportunities at lucrative tech companies. Below are the top reasons to become a user researcher in 2021.
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- Competitive salary. As a result of the increasing demand, UX researchers get a competitive salary. PayScale reports that these professionals earn $94,465 per year.
- Wide range of industries. As a UX researcher, you can work in an array of industries as plenty conduct usability tests to better their products. The industries include big data, the Internet of Things (IoT), travel, marketing, and manufacturing.
- In-demand skills. The user experience research profession includes many popular industry-standard skills. They include analytical skills, critical thinking, dynamic thinking, and social science skills.
- Growing field. As data science technologies and the field of user experience evolve, so does the UX research field. As explored above, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that computer science research positions will grow exponentially in the next decade.
UX Researcher Job Requirements
The job requirements for a UX researcher include knowledge of user experience design principles and an appropriate educational background. Below are job requirements for a UX researcher, all of which may vary depending on your experience and your career goals.
- Solid foundation in user testing. One of the most important job requirements for UX researchers is a deep understanding of user testing, user experience, and user interface design. The job also requires a background in human behavior research and an understanding of the design thinking process.
- Degree, diploma, or certificate. A career in user research requires an educational background in behavioral science or relevant technology fields. The educational requirements are broad, but you’ll still need to have a strong background.
- Data collection and analysis skills. Your job duties involve data analysis and data collection. You must know how to conduct user surveys and create a content strategy with real users in mind.
- Ability to collaborate. The user experience researcher job requires that you collaborate with several teams to work on development, management, and design. You also work with stakeholders to help create optimal product design.
Types of UX Researcher Careers
The field of UX research provides a wide range of career possibilities in the research, design, and management fields. You should choose your profession based on your field of interest. Below are some top UX research careers.
Qualitative UX Researcher
UX research encompasses both qualitative and quantitative research, so you can become a qualitative researcher. Your job duties will focus on the overall quality aspect of user experience. You will use methods like interviews, focus groups, field studies, card sorting, and usability testing to get qualitative results.
Quantitative UX Researcher
You can also pursue a career in quantitative UX research, which focuses more on user testing numerical and objective analytical factors. Methods include A/B testing, funnel analysis, and cohort analysis. Your objective is to use statistical data to provide an analysis of the usability of a product.
You can also become a UI/UX designer with your UX research education. The UX research background includes design thinking principles and user testing, which are both relevant to UI/UX design professions. If you want to start a web design career, this one is a great choice.
UX Researcher Meaning: What Does a UX Researcher Do?
A UX researcher uses many different methods to collect data on the user experience and apply the results to different projects. The job description includes many different tasks, and they can vary depending on your experience and specialization. Below are some of the most common tasks for UX researchers.
As a UX researcher, you meet with several departments, including design, management, development, and product owners, to find the product design and development requirements. You collect information to establish an optimal UX content strategy that allows for efficient and valuable data collection and analysis.
Conducts UX Research
UX researchers use cognitive science and product requirements to conduct qualitative and quantitative user testing. You determine whether to use one or more types of user testing methods for the best results. This is the most important part of the UX research job.
Once you collect the target user data, your job includes performing data analysis. You are responsible for providing efficient design and development solutions that resonate with both the users and the company. Data analysis can be learned from a bootcamp, degree program, or online course.
Essential UX Researcher Skills
To become a successful UX researcher, you’ll need to have both hard skills and soft skills. These include analysis techniques and communications. Continue reading to find the top in-demand UX researcher skills.
Having analytical skills is crucial to this profession, as the job requires you to perform data analysis and use critical thinking to create an efficient end-user strategy. Once you gather data, you’ll need to organize and analyze it to apply the results.
Your job as a UX researcher includes collaborating with UX analysts, product designers, software developers, and UX architects. Therefore, having excellent communication skills is a vital skill for the job. You may have to explain design concepts to someone who isn’t as well-versed in UX.
As a UX researcher, your job heavily involves the product design process. You must have creative and technical design skills, such as wireframing, interaction design, and visual design. Although the research position may not require hands-on design, you’ll still need to be familiar with up-to-date concepts.
How Long Does It Take to Become a UX Researcher?
The time it takes to become a UX researcher varies depending on your educational pathway and background. You can become a UX researcher with a bachelor’s degree that will take you around four years. You can also get a coding bootcamp education that will take a few weeks to a few months.
Another way to become a UX researcher is via certificate programs and online courses. These can take anywhere from a couple hours to a couple years. Do your research and figure out which option works best for you. Depending on the company, certain UX researcher jobs require work experience that can take a few years to get.
Can a Coding Bootcamp Help Me Become a UX Researcher?
Yes, a coding bootcamp can help you become a UX researcher. Coding bootcamps are short-term tech training institutions that teach you in-demand industry skills and get you ready for a job. You can attend UI/UX coding bootcamps and design principles bootcamps to learn everything you need to know.
Most coding bootcamps also provide career support services, including interview prep, hands-on training, and employer networking sessions. Additionally, many bootcamps offer job guarantees that will help you land a job in UX research and save money on tuition.
Can I Become a UX Researcher From Home?
Yes, you can become a UX researcher from home. You can find online coding bootcamps, online college degrees, and online courses. You can also look into massive open online course (MOOC) platforms, such as Udemy and Coursera, to find UX programs. In many cases, these online courses are free, or at least very affordable.
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How to Become a UX Researcher: A Step-by-Step Guide
Although the process is never the same for everyone, there are several steps you should take to become a UX researcher. Below is a step-by-step guide to starting a career in UX research in 2021.
Step 1: Get a UX Research Education
The first step is to get the educational background required to become a UX researcher. Enroll in university degree programs, attend coding bootcamps, or take online courses and learn UX design, data analytics, and research skills. You can choose a pathway depending on your experience and the type of job you want to get.
Step 2: Gain Hands-On Experience
The next step is to build an impressive portfolio and gain hands-on experience. You can take up freelance work or apply for internships relevant to the profession to enhance your resume. Hands-on experience is an important part of the process because you’ll need to show employers your research and design skills.
Step 3: Apply for the UX Research Jobs
You are now ready to apply for the UX research positions of your choice. Look into job search websites, including Indeed, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn for different job postings. Try finding like-minded people in your community and start networking early on.
Best Schools and Education for a UX Researcher Career
No UX researcher follows the same education path. If you already have a degree in another subject, you might only need to take a couple of courses to enter this new field. In some cases, a bootcamp education is enough to get a job. Below are some top institutions with the best UX research courses.
UX Researcher Bootcamps
To become a UX researcher, you can enroll in one of the top UX coding bootcamps. Bootcamps are the best way to learn new skills quickly, and some only take a couple of weeks to complete. The best bootcamps for UX/UI design include CareerFoundry, General Assembly, and Kenzie Academy.
Vocational schools are post-secondary schools that provide you with industry skills training. Most vocational schools offer training for hands-on careers and do not offer UX research training, but there are some design programs out there that can help you gain basic skills.
If you are looking to get an associate degree or a certificate, then community college is a great option. You can enroll in a UX design associate degree program to get your career started. Several community colleges, including Kingsborough Community College and Normandale Community College, offer UX programs.
UX Researcher Degrees
The industry standard for UX researchers by most companies is a college degree. You can get a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science or Graphic Design to be ready for an entry-level position. For more senior positions, you can get a master’s degree. Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Washington offer top UX research degree programs.
The Most Important UX Researcher Certificates
Getting a certificate in UX research or UX/UI design is a great way to enter the field in a short amount of time. These certificates only last a couple of months or years, so they’re more efficient than a degree program. Take a look below at the best UX researcher certificates you should apply for in 2021.
General Assembly is a global coding bootcamp offering an online UX design course. It can teach you design skills through immersive classes and a hands-on project. You will learn prototyping, wireframing, and user research, among other important design tools.
This program from Human Factors International is actually a professional certification. If you want to work on usability analysis, then it’s a great choice. This certification covers user experience foundations, conceptual design, usability testing, and application design. It only takes 10 days to complete.
Bentley University offers a UX certificate program that covers several UX subjects to help you learn everything you need to know. They include qualitative data analysis, human factor and UX, task analysis, content strategy, and customer experience. You can also learn how to lead a team in the field.
How to Prepare for Your UX Researcher Job Interview
It is crucial to do extensive preparation for your UX researcher job interview. You must conduct company profile research, practice your elevator speech, and read through your relevant skills to get prepared. Below are some popular UX researcher job interview questions you can practice before your interview.
UX Researcher Job Interview Practice Questions
- What experience do you have that showcases your UX, analytical, and human behavior skills?
- Which method of UX research best suits our company’s product?
- Describe your process when creating a research plan.
- Describe a project during which you worked on a UX concept.
Should I Become a UX Researcher in 2021?
Yes, you should become a UX researcher in 2021. If analytics, user experience, statistics, and human psychology interest you, then this career is a great fit for you. A career in UX research allows you to work in an array of industries and comes with a competitive salary package. The high job outlook also means you’ll have more opportunities throughout your career.
UX Researcher FAQ
Yes, you can become a UX researcher without a degree. Companies look for technical and soft skills relevant to the UX research field. You can acquire those skills from coding bootcamps, certificate and degree programs, and online courses.
Yes, it can be hard to become a UX researcher. The field is a combination of analytics, UX design, product development, research, and human psychology, which can sometimes be difficult to learn.
A UX researcher is responsible for creating a research plan, conducting user testing, gathering qualitative and quantitative UX data, analyzing data, and providing strategies for product design.
To become a successful UX researcher, you must have UX design, analytical, communication, and research skills.
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