PS: This article reflects my personal opinion and is not based on any study or data.
I conducted a poll on my LinkedIn profile asking if a UX Designer needs a degree. Surprisingly, 67% of the respondents answered NO!!! This response raised a red flag for me.
As someone with two degrees (Digital Media and Graphic Design), as well as additional courses in coding, arts, and UI/UX, I can understand why some people believe a degree is not necessary. There are no undergraduate programs specifically focused on UX Design, although there are postgraduate degrees, master’s programs, and even doctorates available in the field.
Furthermore, even with a college education, if you want to enter the UX Design field, you must still take additional courses and seek mentorships, which can vary in duration (3, 6, or 9 months and so far so on) and format (online or in-person). Additionally, there are amazing designers who offer free courses on YouTube or create valuable content on platforms like Instagram and LinkedIn. These resources might contribute to the perception that a degree is not essential.
Why you should consider taking a degree
However, there are several reasons why you should consider pursuing a degree:
- Importance of Related Courses: While there are no specific UX Design bachelor’s degrees, courses in Graphic/Digital Design are highly relevant and often sought after by companies looking to hire UI/UX Designers.
- Shared Concepts: Marketing and UX Design share common concepts, making a background in marketing beneficial.
- UX Research Roles: A degree in Psychology is particularly valuable for UX Research positions.
- Interaction with Engineers: Given the collaboration between UX Designers and engineers, a solid understanding of Computer Science can be a valuable differentiator.
Professionals with educational backgrounds in these areas often have an advantage over those who haven’t studied these subjects during the job hunting process. Moreover, studying these disciplines can open doors to various companies and fields, facilitating career mobility.
Soft skills matter
While technical skills are important, soft skills also play a significant role in success. These include understanding business and tech aspects, effective communication to articulate and defend ideas, empathy, curiosity, collaboration, and research abilities.
What about the tools?
Regarding tools, it’s not necessary to be a master in every single one of them. It’s beneficial to have some knowledge, but don’t spend excessive time on them. Tools come and go, so it’s more important to focus on mastering UX Design principles rather than specific tools.
Work hard on your portfolio
Building a strong portfolio is crucial, regardless of whether you have a degree. Dedicate effort to showcasing your best projects and consider having your own website to present your work. While platforms like Behance are acceptable for displaying portfolios, they have limitations in terms of personal expression and design customization.
Seek inspiration from other designers, perform competitor analysis, and engage with recruiters, designers, business owners, marketers, developers, and product managers. They can provide insights into what they expect from a UX designer’s portfolio. Apply your knowledge and skills to create an exceptional portfolio that demonstrates your capabilities. Remember, if you can’t design something outstanding for yourself, how can you convince a hiring manager that you can do it for their company or clients?
In conclusion, if you conduct some research, you’ll find exceptional designers who have succeeded without those related degrees, such as Debbie Millman, President Emeritus of AIGA, who majored in English literature, or Don Norman, the father of UX terminology, who holds degrees in electrical engineering and mathematical psychology. However, it’s important to recognize that these professionals are exceptions and likely invested significant effort into reaching their current level of expertise.
From my perspective, having a degree holds importance, and the aforementioned professionals are outliers.
How about you?
Do you think a degree is a major thing to jump in the field or not, please let us know your opinion in the comments.
Wrote by: Rafael de Rezende BassoFollow on LinkedIn