Growing in Your UX Career: Study Guide

Growing in Your UX Career: Study Guide

Summary: Unsure where to start? Use this collection of links to articles, videos, and a free report for advice to grow in your user experience career.

By Mayya Azarova on November 21, 2021

Topics: Study Guides

UX practitioners come from different backgrounds, yet there are specific skills and responsibilities deemed as crucial in the industry today. Here’s a compilation of NN/g’s most useful articles and videos about growing in your UX career. We also share a free report based on research studies carried out with 722 UX professionals around the world. Within each section, the resources are in recommended reading order.

UX Careers: An Overview

This compilation is a collection of resources geared toward existing UX practitioners and those considering a career transition into UX.  It’s meant to help you with career-related questions such as which path to choose within UX or what to include in a research or design portfolio. 

As people come to UX at very different stages of their lives and from different roles, the resources are divided by career levels (entry-level and mid-level or senior) so you can jump straight to the content that applies to you. The first section below is dedicated to the general UX-career advice and ways to present your work when applying for user-experience positions.

UX Career: Useful for Everyone

In this section resources cover the following topics: 

  • UX lessons learned and general advice for UX professionals
  • UX portfolios: design vs. research
  • UX job descriptions and salary trends
NumberLinkFormat Description
1How to Start a New Career in UX (Jakob Nielsen)VideoHow to steer your current position onto a UX path or join an established UX team
2Becoming a Usability ProfessionalArticleEssential skills for usability professional and actionable advice on how to get started in UX
6Transitioning from UI to UXVideoSkills needed to go beyond simply creating interfaces and truly address user’s needs
7Can People with Established Careers in Another Field Become UX Professionals?VideoTransitioning into UX from another field
3Most Important Skill Required for UX ProfessionalsVideoWhy empathy, the ability to understand the perspective and motivations of other people, is important in UX
4What Has Made You a Better UX Professional?VideoReflections from UX professionals on what they have done to become better at this profession
5What a UX Career Looks Like TodayArticleA summary of NN/g’s research on UX careers: skills, activities, and backgrounds 
6User Experience CareersReportA free 90-page, research-based report that explores in detail what a UX career looks like today and how to get a job in the field 
7Describing UX to Family and FriendsVideoHow to explain to people what a UX profession is about 
8Portfolios for UX Researchers: Top 10 RecommendationsArticleHow to choose what work to include in a UX-research portfolio, summarize your research findings, and clearly showcase your skills
9UX Portfolios: What Hiring Managers Look ForVideoThe hiring expectations for designers vs. researchers and junior vs. senior positions
105 Steps to Creating a UX-Design PortfolioArticleHow to create a compelling UX-design portfolio that appropriately captures your skills and achievements
11UX Portfolios: Preparing for InterviewsVideoThe role of your UX portfolio and how to showcase your work within a portfolio
12UX PortfoliosVideo
13Creating a UX Design Portfolio Case StudyVideoHow to create a case study for your portfolio and what aspects of your work you should emphasize
14The State of UX Job DescriptionsVideoBreakdown of the UX job descriptions and roles 
15The UX Unicorn MythVideoWhy it’s not a good idea to expect a UX specialist to be an expert at all aspects of a UX job
16Salary Trends for UX ProfessionalsArticleAn overview of a 20-year period of UX salaries 

UX Career: Entry Level

If you are early in your career, use the following resources to learn how to:

  • Build necessary skills based on advice from seasoned practitioners
  • Make the most out of your internship 
  • Find mentors and create a plan to advance your UX career
1UX Lessons I Wished I Learned EarlyVideoWhy you should balance the demands of UX with your organization’s business goals and count every single small step in the right direction as a victory, instead of aiming for UX perfection 
2UX Lessons I Wish I Learned in SchoolArticle 
3User Experience Career Advice: How to Learn UX and Get a JobArticleA summary of our data on how UX professionals view their careers and their recommendations for getting started in the field
4How to Grow a UX Career and Advance Your User-Experience ExpertiseVideoJakob Nielsen’s advice on how to advance through various career stages
5How Did You Get Into UX?VideoUnique journeys into UX shared by attendees at NN/g’s UX conference 
6First Online UX InternshipVideoA UX intern’s advice on how to succeed in an all-remote UX team
7UX Intern: Looking Back 3 Years After the InternshipVideoHow the internship experience relates to the current job and what to look for in a UX internship
8Finding UX MentorsVideoDefinition of a mentor and how to find one

UX Career: Mid-Level and Senior Level

If you are a more senior user-experience professional or are transitioning from a mid-level or senior role in an adjacent field, use the following resources to learn how to:

  • Think about management vs. specialization in your career growth
  • Become an effective UX leader and foster UX maturity at your organization
  • Have a conversation about the future of UX as a field 
1A 100-Year View of User ExperienceArticleWhat growth to expect in the UX profession by 2050
2UX 2050 (Jakob Nielsen keynote)Video
3Poor Management = Mediocre UX DesignArticleA survey of UX professionals regarding the challenges encountered by UX at their organization
4Management vs. Specialization as UX Career GrowthVideoJakob Nielsen’s advice on how to decide between choosing further skill specialization or management role
5How Can UX Professionals Balance a Range of Skills as They Build Their CareersVideoHow to balance breadth and depth of skills within UX 
6What Makes an Effective UX Leader?VideoPractitioners’ perspectives on the role of soft skills for UX leadership leaders


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