UX design is an exciting career with many opportunities for growth—especially in 2023. But there's a lot to learn, so it's important to take the necessary time to consider if it's the right career for you.

In this blog post we'll share insights about the UX design profession, as well as quotes from real-world UX designers and top design mentors about what it's like to be a UX designer. It's our hope that these insights (the good and bad) will help make your decision easier.

Table of Contents

  1. What does a UX designer do?
  2. Is it easy to switch to a career in UX design?
  3. Is being a UX designer stressful?
  4. Is being a UX designer exciting?
  5. What is the day-to-day of a UX designer like?
  6. How is UX design impacting the world?
  7. 9 Reasons to Become a UX Designer
  8. How to Become a UX Designer

What does a UX designer do?

A UX designer is responsible for the overall experience of a product, from the user's initial perceptions to the way they interact with it. It's a broad discipline that covers user research, interface design, usability testing, information architecture, and content strategy. UX designers aim to create designs that make the user experience efficient, pleasant, and enjoyable.

→ Want to learn more about the projects and tasks of a UX designer? Read: What Do UX Designers Do?

Is it easy to switch to a career in UX design?

Switching to a career in UX design depends on your prior knowledge and experience. If you have some skills and knowledge in design, you may find it relatively easy to make the switch—and there are many great UX bootcamps out there that can help you move into the field with minimal knowledge of design topics. The most important thing to landing a job in UX design is to have a portfolio of work that showcases your understanding of the design process, as this will play a big role in demonstrating your ability to work on UX design projects.

All UX Academy students graduate with high quality portfolios and career support. You’ll create portfolio deliverables, write case studies, and put it all together with your own online portfolio. After this, you’ll create a cover letter and resume, polish your online presence, and put together an action plan for your job search.

An illustration and image featured UX designers collaborating.

→ Check out these inspiring portfolio examples from Designlab alumni

Is being a UX designer stressful?

Like any job, being a UX designer can be stressful. However, many UX designers find that they enjoy the problem-solving aspect of the job, which can reduce stress. It can be challenging to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and technologies, and to make sure designs are reaching the right people, but overall the job can be satisfying and rewarding.

Al Lucca, Head of Design at Semafor, and Designlab mentor, says, "I wouldn't say being a UX designer is stressful, it can surely be frustrating, sometimes boring, but stress will very much depend on how you manage work and life."

Another mentor, Ben Judy, Director of Product Design at Postlight, adds: "It certainly can be stressful. A few stress-inducers you might encounter include: deadlines, demanding clients or stakeholders, colleagues in other disciplines who don't understand UX, fighting for budget/resourcing (if you're in-house), and finding new client work (if you're in client services or a freelancer.) But it's also highly rewarding when things go well."

Is being a UX designer exciting?

UX design is an incredibly exciting field for many reasons. It combines creativity, psychology, and technology to create functional user experience that is tailored to the user's needs. UX designers get to interact with different people and understand their needs, creatively solve problems, and collaborate with other members in the tech field.

Because of this, UX designers can help shape the direction of user-centric products and digital experiences, making a real impact on people's lives. With the rapid advancement of technology, more and more UX and UI design roles are becoming available to those looking to challenge themselves with this exciting career and design better user experiences.

An illustration of a quote from Al Lucca.

What is the day-to-day of a UX designer like?

The day-to-day of a UX designer depends on the job role and projects they're working on. Generally speaking, a UX designer’s days involve researching and understanding user needs, developing prototypes, testing designs, and other tasks related to product development and design.

Additionally, a UX designer must stay on top of industry trends and advances in order to keep up to date and informed.

Common activities that you might work on throughout your work week include:

Four images of UX designers working on various tasks.

→ Curious to hear more about design team structure and day-to-day ceremonies? Read: A Day in the Life of a UX Designer at a Large Company

How is UX design impacting the world?

UX design is at the core of the modern user experience. By empowering users to interact with digital products and services more intuitively, UX design has revolutionized how people engage with the world.

UX designers are able to reduce complexity, provide more meaningful experiences, and create a better product-to-user connection. This has led to improved customer engagement and loyalty, streamlined workflows, and empowered decision making.

Ultimately, UX design has helped to transform the world of technology and the way users interact with it.

9 Reasons to Become a UX Designer

You may be wondering, "why choose UX design?" There's many reasons people may find a UX career fulfilling. Here's what some of our Designlab mentors and UX industry pros have said ...

1. Utilize transferable skills from your previous experience

At Designlab we teach students from a wide variety of backgrounds—sales and marketing, education, and graphic design, to name a few—how to become UX designers. One common thread we hear from all of our students is how surprised they are to find that UX design uses many skills they already had from their previous career.

Simone Obidah, a former chef and current User Research Apprentice at Asana, and UX Academy alum, says, “With UX design I discovered how to apply my skills in different ways such as flexibility, communication, collaboration and making sure quality is consistent throughout all aspects of product building.”

Christine Li, UX Designer at HSBC, and UX Academy alum, says, “My previous fashion design experience has helped me to think from different perspectives. As I grew as a fashion graphic designer, I started to raise more questions about why, and how to aim at the right audience or solve the right problems. These questions brought me closer to UX design."

2. There is demand in almost every industry for UX designers

UX designers don’t just exist in tech businesses

UX designers are integral in helping businesses of all kinds create products and services that are tailored to their users' needs, making them an essential part of the process when it comes to creating successful products and services. With businesses continuing to shift towards a digital-first approach to their products and services, UX designers will remain highly sought after in the ever-evolving world of business and technology.

Ben Judy says, "Its multi-disciplinary, cross-device, and cross-industry nature. You can specialize or deepen your skills in dozens of sub-disciplines such as strategy, information architecture, qualitative research, or interaction design. You can design for mobile apps, websites, massive data-drive systems, appliances, and all manner of things. UX designers can work in almost any industry on earth. The whole world of business and technology is open for you to explore and apply your skills."

An image of Ben Judy and a quote from him.

3. Build bridges between people and products

UX design builds bridges between users and the products or services they interact with by understanding user behavior, intentions, and preferences. A user-centered design approach focuses on usability, accessibility, desirability, and brand trust, aiming to create a seamless and intuitive experience.

Well-designed UX helps users find and use the product without friction, providing a powerful connection that encourages engagement, loyalty, and satisfaction. Sufficiently planned UX also anticipates possible new requests and demands and offers users a path to discovering best practices quickly. Now more than ever, users have come to expect a clean and easy-to-navigate design that delivers natural outcomes.

Amy Lima, Product Designer at Amazon Music, and UX Academy alum says, “Technology has always bridged the gap between my many worlds, connecting me with my family in Brazil and friends around the globe, and it’s also helped me discover new parts of myself in ways that make me feel whole. When I learned I could have an active hand in building these bridges for others through UX design, I ran towards it and never looked back."

An image of a headshot of Amy Lima and a quote from her.

Amy is a champion for users everywhere and has a particular interest in making a positive impact on the world through her work with nonprofits, like Be the Change—an end-to-end mobile app that donates users’ spare change to local Mutual Aid organization campaigns..

An image of the Be the Change website.

A screenshot of the Be The Change website from the portfolio of Amy Lima.

As a UX Designer, you have the unique opportunity to create impactful experiences that improve people’s lives. Your designs can help businesses succeed and make people’s lives easier.

Ben Judy says: "If you've ever been annoyed or let down by an experience with a digital product that didn't meet your expectations—and you want to do something about it, and save millions of other people from experiencing that same pain—then becoming a UX designer may be for you."

4. The feeling of those magic moments

Many UX designers report feeling very satisfied with their work—especially when a project or product has shipped ...

Divya Maharajula, Product Designer at Ulta Beauty, and UX Academy alum, says, “At the end of the day when your vision comes to life and makes people’s lives better, it feels fulfilling and gives you a sense of purpose."

A headshot of Divya with a quote from her.

Ben Judy adds: "That moment when you see proof—whether in a usability test or from user analytics data—that it's working! Your design has moved the needle: happier customers, increased engagement, customer retention, greater adoption, successful task completion. Whatever it is, that magic moment when you've dialed-in on a winning design that clearly works for humans. There's nothing like it."

5. Creative and logical STEM career

UX design—which is rooted in the scientific process—is both creative and logical because it involves considering the emotional and practical aspects of using an interface.
On one hand, UX design is creative because it involves designing a product that resonates with users and encourages them to engage with it.

On the other hand, UX design is logical because it involves considering how users interact with the interface and the processes that need to be implemented to make the product easily usable.

“I love how product design is about being functional and building for an optimal user experience, while also not being overly creative. I want to be creative, but also pragmatic, in my design,” says Joyce, Product Designer at Optum Financial, and UX Academy alum.

Joyce embraces functional and pragmatic design processes in her role in FinTech. Check out the Vanguard project on her portfolio, which helped her to land her current role at Optum Financial!

An image of the Vanguard website.

6. Never boring, constantly evolving

You will never be bored as a UX designer as every project you work on offers a creative challenge. With each challenge, you can explore different ideas and approaches to create the best user experience.

Rebecca Hancock, Sr. UX Designer at Kickstartabiz and Designlab mentor, says, "This field is always growing, and there's a wide variety of industries and projects to work on. No two projects are the same. It can be difficult at times to keep up with all the new trends in the tech industry, but I promise you it's worth the effort to know the latest and greatest of everything. It never gets boring!"

Al Lucca adds: "I feel like design is a discipline that is always going through transformations, our roles, the impact we deliver to products and ideas, the intangible that goes way beyond the current obsession with metrics. All that combined makes Design fun and not really like a job."

7. Optimal work/life balance

Most UX designers have a great work/life balance. Because of the online nature of the UX field, most UX design jobs are flexible and remote optional.
Rebecca also says, "There's amazing work/life balance. If you find a company to work for that aligns with your own values, work won't feel like work."

A headshot of Rebecca with a quote from her.

8. Salary satisfaction

Generally, UX designers can expect to make a high salary. Though, job market conditions, experience and skills, company size and type, industry, and geographical location all influence how much a UX designer earns. The location of the company, which varies by country and city, determines a large part of the salary you will receive, regardless of whether your role is in-person, hybrid, or fully remote.

According to Glassdoor, the average salary for a UX designer in the United States is:

  • Entry-level UX Design Salary: $75,000-$80,928
  • Mid-level: $90,000-$104,580
  • Senior-level: $110,000-$113,368

An illustration showing the salary ranges for UX designers by experience.

→ Interested in learning more about what factors influence how much you make as a UX designer? Read: What Salary Can You Expect as a UX Designer?

9. Be part of a thriving community

Being a part of the UX design community provides numerous benefits. These include:

1. Access to resources: UX designers have access to a wealth of knowledge, tools, and techniques to support their designs. The UX design community is a great place to learn, share and collaborate.
2. Make meaningful connections: As a member of the UX design community, you can make meaningful connections with other UX professionals and establish relationships that can last for years.
3. Gain fresh insight: Valuable feedback from peers and industry leaders is essential for any designer’s continued growth and development. By engaging in the UX design community, designers can stay on the cutting edge of UX design principles and trends.
4. Stay motivated: With a supportive community behind you, it's easier to stay motivated to practice and refine your craft.
5. Gain greater visibility: By participating in the UX design community, you can help to increase the visibility of your work, making it easier to find new opportunities.
6. Develop a global network: A great way to extend your global network and open up new doors of opportunity, the UX design community can help to connect you with potential customers, partners, and collaborators worldwide.

How to Become a UX Designer

The best way to learn UX design is to start learning visual design and UI design. In UX Academy Foundations, you'll do just that. UX Academy Foundations is an online course that teaches the fundamentals of visual design and UI design in just 4 weeks. This course includes 1:1 mentorship with an experienced designer—and an automatic $500 credit towards our intensive UX Academy bootcamp.

UX Academy Foundations CTA 2023

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Alexa Harrison

Designlab

Content Writer

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