With advances in technology, websites and web applications are becoming increasingly complex. It’s hard to imagine now, but websites were once a static medium with little or no interactive elements. Today, they’ve evolved into highly interactive and experiential platforms.
User experience or UX refers to how you feel when you interact with a system—and whether it meets your needs or expectations. The system could be a website, web application or desktop software. UX addresses things like whether the site is easy to use and pleasant to look at, whether the information on it is easy to navigate, and whether it provides value. A good user experience helps to convert normal website visitors into regular and valued customers.
We've compared the most popular UX design certificates for anyone looking to start a new career.
What Does A UX Designer Do?
The skilled professionals who study and assess how users feel when interacting with a system are called UX designers. They study aspects like how easy the system is to use, how the value of the system is being perceived, and how efficient and useful it is in performing various tasks.
Anyone building websites and apps today needs to have an understanding of user-centric design. The spotlight has effectively shifted onto how people feel about the websites they visit. This has led to a rise in demand for skilled UX designers in the job market.
Do You Need A Certification to Get Hired As A UX Designer?
With impressive salaries on offer, the UX designer job market is highly competitive. Having a certification or two to validate your skills and knowledge in the field will help you to stand out from your competitors. Certifications can also help self-taught designers to formalize their knowledge and enter the job market as a qualified UX professional.
But you don’t necessarily need a certificate to excel in UX design. Potential employers often value work experience and demonstrated technical aptitude over a certification. So if you’re early on in your UX career, then you should focus your energy on building a stellar portfolio and making connections instead of a certification.
A UX design bootcamp will help you forge connections with industry professionals, apply for jobs, and create a portfolio that wins interviews. You’ll gain the hands-on experience you need to prove you have what it takes to excel in a UX design role - even if you’ve never actually held a UX position before.
So at this early stage in your career, be strategic about how you invest your time and money. Weigh your options and consider whether you really need a certification, or whether you should pursue an online education in UX instead.
If you’ve made the decision to earn a certification, then you’ve got a wide variety of options to choose from. Keep in mind that certifications sometimes require a substantial time commitment, and they’re not always free. So before enrolling, do your research. Make sure you’re signing up with a trust-worthy organization that’s well respected within the UX industry. Compare curriculums, and ensure that you’re getting more out of the program than a piece of paper or a badge for your LinkedIn profile.
To get the most out of your certification program, you can also do your own preliminary research ahead of time. Check out some of our definitions for common UX terms so you understand the lingo that’s getting thrown around. And brush up on our best practices for UX designers so you know the ins and outs of working with a design team, performing customer research, and designing a customer-focused product.
A variety of universities and platforms provide UX certifications, both in-person and online. We’ve put together a list below of some of the best and most popular certificate programs:
- User Experience Research and Design Certification
Offered by the University of Michigan, this certification will help you understand the needs of the user to create great products. You’ll also learn how to generate prototypes and assess design concepts. Other elements of UX like ideation and refinement, user analysis, initial conceptualization, prototyping, and user testing will be taught in this program.
The program is comprised of six courses, and you’ll earn a course completion badge at the end of each one. This is achieved through graded assignments and assessments. The program lasts for six months, with an expectation of five study hours per week.
- UX Master Certification
If you’d like to showcase your UX skills or pick up expertise in a new specialty area, the UX and UX Master Certification program from Nielson Normal Group is for you. This is an exam-based program that takes place in face-to-face mode. It’s not a beginner’s program and is curated for UX professionals who want to further develop and hone their skills.
You can earn this UX Certification following five days of study and completing the exam. The UX Master Certification is earned in 15 days followed by an exam. The cumulative fee for the UX Certification course and the exam is approximately $3,900, while the total fee for the UX Master Certification course and exam is about $11,600.
- The UX Design Immersive certificate
From General Assembly, this certificate program is best suited to professionals who want to transition from a different industry into UX design. The program covers user research, information architecture, interactivity and design, and much more. Through this course, you’ll learn from top industry practitioners, acquire in-demand skills to build your resume, and even receive help to land a job after completing the course.
- Certified User Experience Analyst
This program offered by HFI Training is for experienced professionals keen on learning more developed and advanced skills to take their career to new heights. Based on where you are in your career, you can take this certification program in two ways:
- If you’re just starting out, you should begin with the Certified Usability Analyst (CUA) track. In this program, you’ll learn skills to help you grow and advance further in the field of UX.
- If you’re a more experienced professional, then you should proceed to the Certified User Experience Analyst or the CXA program. In this, you’ll learn more advanced skills.
- UX/UI Design - Thinkful
In this course, you'll learn all the skills you need to start a career in UX or UI design. You'll partner up with a personal mentor, and work on projects as you build a portfolio. Before completing the program, a team of career coaches will prepare you to nail the interview and get the job. It's the most direct, comprehensive path to a long-term career in UX.
Take A Course to Start Your Career
Certifications are a nice add-on to your resume, and they may even help swing the odds in your favor at the interview stage. But they won’t lay the foundation for a lasting career in UX design.
If you’re looking to transition from a different industry, then your best option is to enroll in a UX design bootcamp. Our online course will prepare you for long-term success in the UX world. You’ll benefit from an in-depth curriculum that focuses on the tech skills employers need, plus a personal mentor who’s built their own career in UX. You’ll complete the program with interview prep, resume reviews, and career coaches to help you submit your applications and get noticed by recruiters. A stunning portfolio will seal the deal and get you a job that you love.
If you’re interested in enhancing your resume with a UX certification, make sure you research your chosen certificate thoroughly. There will be prerequisites for each course, and it’s up to you to ensure you comply. You can also talk to industry professionals and career advisors to ensure that the certification will add value to your skills and career trajectory.
Once you’ve decided on a certificate that’s right for you, be sure to keep on track with your study schedule. Block out the required time on a daily and weekly basis so you don’t fall behind and end up wasting time and money.