My intention with this article isn't to discourage anyone, but it is better to know where are you getting into before it is too late.
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With the ascension of UX Design as the core strategy for many business successes, the demand for UX Designers raised, but, we didn’t have enough qualified people in the market.
To solve this problem UX BootCamps came to the game, working day and night like printing machines, printing UX Design certificates every 3 to 6 months to send newbie UX Designers to the industry.
Well, we will talk about it.
The reality of taking the UX Designer career path is hard, it is disappointing, it is not even close to easy as it seems, and before getting into it, you better know what exactly to expect.
If you arrived at this article because the UX career is taking hard on you, you still didn’t get a job or got too many rejections, today you will learn that it is not your fault, everyone is going through the same and there is a way out.
Disclaimer: Anyone starting off can have different experiences, I am writing this based on my community and own experience.
1- The market is saturated
Don't fall into the idea that we have many empty UX positions, and that everything you need to do is take a UX Design BootCamp to have hiring managers fighting for you.
This idea sells a lot, but it is not the truth.
The only truth here is that marketers are really good at doing their job and if they show the small number of people who had this luck many times in your face, you will start to believe that this is something very likely to happen.
But, unfortunately, it is not.
The industry is looking for UX Designers, but not for juniors that are coming out of BootCamps. Most of the positions require a Senior level, which will take you longer than 6-months of BootCamp to achieve. Way longer.
You know, I see companies asking for 7 + years in senior positions, and startups normally give you a senior title before but don't expect the same salary and advantages.
After a BootCamp you will be considered more or less a Junior UX Designer, I say more or less because the industry expects you to have a bit of experience, even for a junior position.
Definitely, but the market is pretty saturated, we have millions of UX Designers on the Junior level fighting for any opportunity to grow.
I see more than 200 applications for every single position. And believe me, a middle-level or somebody who did an internship will be hired to that position.
Very, very low, but, please, do not stop reading here, because there is hope.
2- It requires self-initiative
If you want something easy, like taking a 6-month Bootcamp and waiting for a position to fall into your lap after a few job applications, please, do not waste your time on UX Design.
It is just not for you, and by taking a BootCamp you will only feel like time was wasted.
Just like any other career, you will need the experience, the network, the ability and the never stop learning habit. But more than that…
To earn experience in UX you will have to come with a lot of self-initiative and entrepreneurial mentality, because trust me, getting your first real project will depend on you in most of cases, and only on you.
It is very unlikely that a company will hire somebody without experience, so here are your options:
1 — Fight for earning it in the world of freelancing and volunteer work programs.
2 — Pay for mentorship, or try to jump into somebody’s project for free.
3 — Apply for jobs and try to be among the very few lucky ones, I am not saying it is impossible, there is a possibility here.
4 — Give Up
— So, are you saying that after a Bootcamp I will have to work for free at an ONG, Try freelancing, get a lot of rejections by companies, before being hired, or give up?
Yes, you got it right! But wait, there is still hope for you, this is already getting better, isn't it?
3- You Won't become a millionaire
Did you ever receive promises or heard of very attractive salaries in UX Design?
Yeah, they are real, I mean, the salaries, not your experience to fit the positions, I mean not after only taking a Bootcamp.
It will take you more than 6 months to build the competence for positions that pay high salaries unless you were already working in a very related field or had a cousin to indicate you inside his company.
Your Bootcamp won't be enough.
You will actually become very poor at first because you will have to compete for GIGs or even work for free to build some experience.
So, just be realistic about your expectations and everything will be fine.
The problem with BootCamps is that they don't warn you about what will come next.
And that's why we see so many people feeling sad, or thinking that they did something wrong, or that there is something wrong with them.
There is nothing wrong with anyone, they just didn't have the right information about how reality looks like. But again, it is not impossible to achieve great positions in this career. You just need to be persistent.
4- You will need experience
A Bootcamp is just the flour of the cake recipe, after that, you will have to build a lot on your own, a lot of knowledge, hard skills, soft skills, and the most critical REAL projects.
You will have to read books, study, design, experience, learn, try again, design, have the experience, make mistakes, get feedback, learn with mistakes, take classes, try again, design, get feedback, and do again, again, and again.
— Oh, but I built a beautiful product in my Bootcamp, we did research and everything! I feel like I am ready!
Oh, That's beautiful, you did great, and that's how the beginning should look like, I am sure you learned a lot throughout the process, and you dedicated time and creativity to it, but don't get me wrong, I am not the one who makes the rules.
I am not saying that you shouldn't start applying for jobs after the BootCamp, you definitely should, because that's how you will learn and get feedback while having a chance of being hired.
But every time you don't get accepted, keep building, keep participating in projects and keep learning.
5- It is not an easier path
If you just got into UX Design because it had attractive salaries, I am sorry to say, that you won’t last long.
The only people who will still be able to spend time fighting for experience will be the ones who enjoy doing it.
Will be the ones who are ok at working on a secondary job and spending the rest of the night working on UX GIGs, or ONG projects to build portfolios.
You won't succeed if you come to UX for the money, because in most cases, you will get tired, your offers will be for very low-paid positions, and you will still be rejected so many times that you will want to give up.
And it won't become easier after getting the job, you will still have to fight for bringing UX to the company when nobody else understands it yet. and all they want is to finish the project as quickly as they can.
You will keep hearing a lot of ''NO''s, but this time, not from hiring managers, but from Project Managers, Product owners, stakeholders, and so on.
Your persistence in starting a UX career will also count a lot after getting a job. Resilience will walk hands by hand with empathy here.
— That sprint you wanted to run? No, there is no time or budget for it, try to find out otherwise, why don’t you send an e-mail with a poll?
— Oh, those improvements that you suggested? Oh yeah, they were nice, but the team had no time to work on them this time.
— Ah, I know you want to do research, but we need it quickly, we need you to care only about the UI at this moment.
So, yes. I Suppose you are still here, so, welcome to the world of UX!
I see many companies that still don't know much about UX Design, and I see a bright future for UX Designers that persist and pass the first phase of rejections.
The Nielsen Norman Group (world reference in UX Design) believes that the overall quality of user experience in the world today is less than 10% of what it should be.
Which they also believe could be solved by great UX professionals, meaning these professionals will be in big demand in the overcoming years.
The chart below shows the raise of UX professionals in the world, plus the estimated number of professionals by 2050.
FONT NN/g: UX professionals in the world (data from 1950 to 2017 are best estimates; 2018–2050 are forecasts)
If you look at the curve, you will see yourself at the beginning of its growth, which could be a very positive place to be right now, because:
- Most companies still don't know how to use UX to improve quality and they are still learning the importance of it, so we have many businesses hiring their very first UX Designer nowadays and many businesses still don't have anyone.
- The awareness of UX Design will increase as more companies learn how to apply it properly, and the Return Over Investment will prove the importance of UX Design itself.
- As the industry understands that the proper UX methodology applied substantially improves product quality, they will hire more, and by this time you will have enough experience.
So, yep, it looks like the future for novice UX Designers is pretty bright, as long as they don’t give up.
Do not waste time not building experience just because you weren't hired yet by a company.
Read the books, learn the tools, make the projects, get feedback, and repeat until being accepted by that company you desire.
And for some of you, build your own, there is still a lot of space for entrepreneurship in this area, so, if you didn't find the right company, build your own.
I saw many people giving up on UX, only 3 months after the BootCamp, and guess what, things will happen quicker if you decide, that you won't give up, no matter what.
Because, yes. There are great positions out there and you will be ready for catching them if you believe that UX is really for you.
I wanted to demystify the belief that the UX Career is an easy path because it is not, the market is saturated with people trying to get into it, and just like any other career, you will have to be very good at what you do.
There is space for everyone, but you get to be able to build products that solve problems and get very good at increasing the return on any investment in UX Design.
Your career will be great, as long as you have your expectations where they should be.
- If you are looking for your first project, this article might help👇
- If you need to understand a bit more about the hiring process or get better at interviews read this one👇
- And if you need to improve your portfolio, this one can help 👇
If the market is seeking experienced UX Designers but doesn't want to give you an opportunity, build it yourself.
The consequence is that you might like it, and you will end up finding out that you can earn more money freelancing than working for companies.
Thanks for reading, and as always, I will see you in the next article.
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