There are many directions that UX designers can take in their careers as they gain experience and grow their skills. These directions include management, senior positions, freelancing, consulting, or becoming a UX specialist in a related field.
- UX management
As UX designers gain experience, it’s common for responsibilities to expand and opportunities to be in charge of projects to increase. This leads to managerial positions like UX manager, UX director, creative director, and, further down the road, executive positions like chief experience officer, or vice president of UX.
Working on different types of projects will also expose you to new challenges and teach you how to respond to them. You’ll also want to be sure to have good interpersonal and leadership skills, as managers oversee groups of people and can interact frequently with employees outside of their team.
- Advanced UX positions
UX designers can go on to become advanced professionals. This might mean continuing the hands-on work as a UX designer, but expanding your capabilities and taking on more complex tasks. Eventually, this might lead you to roles like senior UX designer, lead UX designer, or principal UX designer. Senior designers are designers with expanded responsibilities; lead and principal designers further lead projects and oversee larger decisions, generally while still participating in the hands-on design process. To take this path, you’ll want to have a variety of UX skills under your belt. These can be areas such as user research, graphic design, and experience collaborating across various teams.
If you’re looking for work that will give you more flexibility. Whether it’s the ability to set your own hours or pick your own clients, there are plenty of reasons why UX designers choose the freelancing path.
If you’re looking to work as a freelance UX designer, you’ll want to prepare your portfolio. Ideally, you would also have a network of designers that you know to help refer you to projects. Building up a social media presence can be helpful. You might also find groups on networking and social media sites like Facebook or LinkedIn to connect with other designers and find companies looking for freelancers.
- UX consulting
A UX consultant is a professional that helps improve an organization’s design and business strategy by offering solutions based on user experience principles. This might mean training clients in best UX practices, researching a client’s customers, or prototyping websites and other products. This would lead to an improved user experience for the customer and a more UX-minded approach to business by the client.
UX consultants often work as a part of a UX consultancy company. They can also work as freelance consultants, or as in-house consultants in a company. If you want to work as a UX consultant, you’ll want to have experience being closely involved with several projects from start to finish. Managerial experience and an understanding of underlying business practices can also be beneficial.
- UX specialist
If you find you’re drawn to certain aspects of UX design, making a lateral switch to a related position can be an option worth considering. For example, if you’re intrigued by how engineers bring designs to life in a website or app, it might make sense to explore becoming a UX engineer. If on the other hand you’re fascinated by user behavior, you can think about making the switch to UX research.
You can switch by polishing the skills in the field you want to move into. Online courses, shadowing other professionals on your team, or taking on projects that give you more responsibilities in your target area can be the first good step. You might also tell your manager if you think they can help you gain the exposure you want in your current role.
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