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How to Become a UX/UI Designer in 2021

Behind every successful product is a designer who created the look and feel of the product. The User eXperience (UX) and User Interface (UI) of a product are incredibly important, few people want to use a product that’s unattractive or difficult to navigate. Because of this, UX and UI designers have become hot commodities, with more and more businesses offering competitive salaries to find a dedicated designer for their software or web app.
In this guide, we are going to cover how to become a UI or UX designer. We’ll give you all the information you need to decide on the path you’ll take to become a one. We’ll also share some helpful resources about expected salaries, the responsibilities of a UX/UI designer, and more.

What is a UX Designer and UI Designer?

UX design is the process of designing how users will experience a product. They employ programming, visual design, usability testing, and psychology to craft a product that’s easy to use and navigate. UX designers accomplish this by thinking about the potential challenges customers may face with a product. They will also make changes to a design or feature based on their research to ensure customers can easily understand how to use a product.
UI designers, on the other hand, are responsible for creating the overall graphic design of a product. They will choose the colors used for a site, and make sure the font is readable for as many people as possible. They will also consider accessibility features for a product, and the overall style each element will use.
UX and UI designers often work hand in hand to create the entire user interface for a product. In smaller teams, these two roles can be taken on by the same person as a UX/UI designer.

UX/UI Designer Job Description - What Does a UX/UI Designer Do?

UX/UI designers are responsible for turning an idea into a web design which meets a certain set of specifications. After they complete a design, it will be passed onto the development team, who will turn the design into a functioning application.
UX/UI designers will ensure that a site is easy to use and navigate through. They’ll also work with other members of an organization to come up with designs which meet the specifications associated with a product. For example, a UX designer may work with the customer success department to find out what problems have been commonly reported among customers, which will help inform new designs.

UX/UI Designer Job Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not track the job outlook for UX/UI designers. That said, they predict that the number of jobs in web development — including web design — will increase by 13 percent over the next decade. This is “much faster than average,” according to the Bureau.

How Much Do UX/UI Designers Earn?

UX/UI designers earn high salaries. The average salary for a UX/UI designer, according to ZipRecruiter, is almost $90,000 per year. Some jobs — those which require more experience — offer salaries of up to $154,000.

There’s no way to determine exactly what salary you can expect because many factors influence the salaries offered by a company. One of the main factors that influence salary is location. The average UX/UI designer in San Francisco can earn an average of over $105,000 per year, whereas the average designer in Atlanta, Georgia, can expect to earn around the national average of $90,000 per year.

The amount you earn will also depend on the type of designer you want to be. UX designers, for example, can expect to earn an average of almost $98,000, whereas UI designers can expect to earn an average of around $90,000 each year. Further, your salary will depend on your experience — the more experience you have, the higher your salary will be.
Some UX/UI designers choose to work as a freelancer, rather than working in an office. These engagements can pay hundreds of dollars per hour if you have a lot of experience, but most starters with only some experience can charge around $50 per hour of work.

How much can you earn? (source: Glassdoor)

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Companies that Hire Bootcamp Grads

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Is UX or UI Design Right For You?

Anyone can learn how to design, however, having certain qualities may mean that you will find greater success or find more joy in a design career. Here are a few qualities happy UX/UI designers see in themselves:
  • A love or knack for visual design
  • An interest in how other people think
  • Humbleness, and a willingness to learn and grow
  • The ability to present or sell
  • A passion for technology
While you don’t need every one of these qualities to.

How to Become a UX Designer or UI Designer

While there are different ways of becoming a UX or UI designer, here’s the most common route:
  1. Choose a design career path
  2. Learn about design through a UX/UI design bootcamp, self-study, or college
  3. Develop and refine your technical skills while building your portfolio
  4. Prepare for and start your job search
Let’s take a look at the first step: picking a career path.

Types of UX/UI Designer

There are different types of UX/UI designers. The most common two are UX designers and UI designers. As we have discussed, the UX designer will conduct research and identify problems customers face with a product and work with the UI designer, who will make an attractive and functional design for a product or service.
However, here are a few other types of designers:

UX Researcher

UX researchers are focused on understanding how customers use a product or service. The UX researcher may use surveys, interviews, and other methods to identify problems customers encounter with a product, and pass on their findings to UX or UI designers.

UX/UI Designer

UX/UI designers perform both user interface and user experience functions. They’ll assist in designing the UI that a user sees, and researching how the design should be structured by using UX design techniques.

Product Designer

Product designers work on all aspects of a product from designing components to creating site maps. These designers will assist UX/UI designers, and work with other teams such as engineering to turn designs into a functioning end product.

How to Learn UX/UI Design

There are a few different ways to learn UX design and UI design. However, here are the three most common methods:
  • Pursue a degree in a design-related subject at a traditional college or university
  • Attend a coding bootcamp specializing in UX/UI design
  • Learn about UX/UI design through your own studying
Each of these paths has its own positives and negatives. Pursuing a design degree, for example, may make new designers more attractive when searching for their first job, and is a very common path among UX/UI designers. Many UX designers will pursue a degree in psychology, which is also sought after in the industry.
Many other designers are self-taught via books or free online courses and have found great jobs based on the skills they learned in their spare time.
Another option that has gained a lot of popularity is going to a bootcamp. Instead of going to university for four years and spending tens of thousands of dollars a year on a degree, prospective designers can instead go to a coding bootcamp focused on UX/UI design to learn practical, job-ready skills to enter the workforce as soon as possible.
Coding bootcamps are short-term, intensive courses where students can learn the skills they need in a particular field, and build a portfolio with projects. In addition, most bootcamps have career services featuring mentors, career guidance, interview prep, and portfolio help.

Top Skills Needed for UX/UI Design Careers

In order to succeed in a design career, you’ll need to practice what you’ve learned while growing your skills and portfolio. The best way to do this is to find a junior position right out of school, where you can learn and grow as you gain work experience.
If you’re having trouble finding a junior position, here’s a list of a few ways to gain valuable work experience and grow your portfolio:
  • Personal projects
  • Freelance work
  • Pro bono work
  • Internships
Let’s also take a look at the skills you should be focused on growing during this time.

Essential Technical Skills for UX/UI Designers

The following skills are required in most design jobs to succeed as a UX/UI designer. These skills include design techniques, processes, and other technologies.
  1. Wireframing and Prototyping.

    Wireframes and prototypes allow designers to communicate and test their ideas. UX/UI designers should be able to create low-fidelity and high-fidelity prototypes to showcase their ideas without creating a full design.

  2. User Research.

    UX/UI designers should be able to conduct user research to find out what customers are looking for in a particular interface. This research may be conducted through surveys, heatmap research, and other techniques.

  3. Branding.

    Every company has a unique brand. The UX/UI designer is in charge of developing a brand which represents the company, which will involve designing logos, colors, and more. The UX/UI designer should be able to create effective branding materials, which will later be passed on to the marketing department.

  4. Implementation with Developers.

    UX/UI designers do not stop after a design has been completed. A UX/UI designer should be able to work with the development team to help them implement a specific design. During this process, the designer may be expected to walk through their designs, justify their decisions, and ensure the development team has all the information they need to successfully implement a design.

  5. Interactivity and Animation.

    UI designers should be able to create interactive designs which meet user needs. They should also be able to use animation to make designs more aesthetically pleasing for the user. This is important because design is becoming a competitive advantage — the better a design, the more likely a user is to look at a website — and so designers need to be capable of creating an intuitive design.

Essential Soft Skills for UX/UI Designers

Technical skills are not the only skills you will need to succeed as a UX/UI designer. You’ll also need to have a set of “soft” skills to be a great designer. The soft skills you will need to have to succeed as a designer include:
  • Problem Solving.

    One of the most important skills UX/UI designers need is the ability to solve problems, and break problems down into smaller components. UI designers will often have to create a design from scratch, which will involve a lot of problem solving; UX designers need to be able to analyze user problems and come up with ways to solve them.

  • Empathy.

    Empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and understand how they are feeling. As a designer, you need to be able to empathize with your target customer and get to know what they need. This will allow you to develop designs which meet the exact needs of users, and solve any problems users may experience.

  • Adaptability.

    Designers need to keep up with the latest trends. As a UX/UI designer, you’ll need to stay on top of design trends and figure out how those trends can be added to your designs. You may also have to adapt to new requirements if a strategic product decision is made.

How to Keep up to Date

UI design and UX design are both exciting and constantly changing fields. There are new ideas and standards all of the time, so keeping up to date with the latest design trends and requirements is essential. Both are fields that require continual learning.
You can keep up to date with UX/UI blogs, courses, and books. Here are some of the best UX design blogs available in 2021:

How to Find a UX/UI Design Job

If you’ve done all of the above you should be ready to start your job search. Here are some of the important steps to keep in
  • Prepare a resume
    Your resume is your first impression. It’s important to create a resume that will show off your experience and skills in a good light.
  • Craft your portfolio
    Your portfolio is what matters most to the majority of hiring managers. Unlike many coding positions, most of your skill as a designer can be shown upfront with a portfolio. When building your portfolio focus on projects that show the most skill, and cut out any extra projects. When it comes to portfolios four amazing projects far outrank eight average ones.
  • Prepare for a technical interview
    A technical interview gives potential employers the chance to test out your knowledge in the field. While your projects might look good, they want to see how you handle the design and user testing process, and how you will fit into the company’s team.
If you’ve gone to a bootcamp for UX/UI design, these steps will be a breeze. Most bootcamps include robust career services that include all of the above, with mentorship, interview prep, portfolio guidance, and resume reviews.


UX/UI Design Overview
Education PathsBootcamp certificate, Bachelor's degree, or self-learning.
Essential Technical SkillsWireframing and prototyping, user research, branding, implementation with developers, interactivity and animation
Essential Soft SkillsProblem solving, empathy, adaptability
Average Salary$90,000

Career Karma is here to help you through every step of your journey to becoming a UX/UI designer, from choosing a career path to finding the right training program for you. We’ll provide you with free coaching, mentorship, and access to a community of your peers who can hold you accountable along your journey.
We can also help you prepare for and get accepted to one of the top UX/UI design bootcamps, so you can access the training you need to succeed in your new career.
There’s never been a better time to become a UX/UI designer, and you can get started today!

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