Author Topic: Career Change for English Major, now Paralegal to UX/UI Designer  (Read 4097 times)

diggingout

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 58
  • Age: 37
  • Location: Michigan
Career Change for English Major, now Paralegal to UX/UI Designer
« on: November 25, 2015, 02:59:43 PM »
I posted pretty recently, but on an unrelated topic, I'd like to discuss a possible career change and if anyone in the field could offer some pointers.  I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English, and ended up working as a paralegal.  I started at making $29k, and five years later at almost 29, I've over doubled my salary, but I think I'm near where it tops out for my level of experience.  I constantly get contacted on LinkedIn for interviews, which result in a salary range around $50k.  I currently make $55k, but with not much overtime and bonuses, I've made $63k this year.  I likely won't make it to a base salary of $60k for another five years, and that just doesn't align with my goals. So, I'm trying to come up with other routes.

My old roommate in college was a creative advertising major, and self-taught herself most of the "design" aspects.  She's now a UI Designer making $110k per year, and working from home.  I recently noticed another college friend who has hopped around with certifications since college (health and wellness coaching), and most recently, she took ONE class through DesignLab and had some basic web design skills, and already landed a job as a UX Designer.  I'm not very close with this girl so I haven't asked much or have any knowledge of how she went about her career change, but we're Facebook friends, so I happened to notice her new job and clicked around her LinkedIn profile to see her experience.

I've been looking into the Designlab courses and they're fairly affordable and part-time.  Here's a link: http://trydesignlab.com/courses/

I was hoping that someone who might be in this field already could tell me if this is a waste of time or a good approach for getting into the field.  I have some basic HTML skills, but that's about it.  Also, if any of you have suggestions for other courses / certifications to help me break into this field, I'd greatly appreciate it!

Ricky

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 842
Re: Career Change for English Major, now Paralegal to UX/UI Designer
« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2015, 05:38:35 PM »
I'm interested in the field as well - it's an avenue I am considering pursuing. I do know that UX design is much much more than just coding. UX design is basically like building an information system - but specifically for the "structure" of the system itself. It's like the pre-req for building an actual information system. So, knowledging of coding and what's capable of coding is necessary but I don't think being fluent in any front end language is going to make or break your chances. The same way in that it's not necessarily important to know the detailed code if you're a project manager for an information system. A UX designer is interested in how a customer uses technology to get from point A to point B - and addresses all those problems in between.

Personally I think that replacing a UX designer in the future will be much harder than replacing someone who strictly codes - so that's why I think it's worth pursuing.

I'm not sure if I added anything here - but hopefully I did :P

seattlecyclone

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7263
  • Age: 39
  • Location: Seattle, WA
    • My blog
Re: Career Change for English Major, now Paralegal to UX/UI Designer
« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2015, 05:42:59 PM »
I'm not a UX designer but I know several people who are. Strong coding skills are not a necessity to be good in the field. Some basic HTML and CSS and maybe a bit of JavaScript for prototyping is a plus, but there's a lot you can do with just Illustrator as well. I'm not sure about those part-time courses. Similar to the "coding bootcamps" that are popping up all over the place for people who want to be developers, they work for some people but not others. A master's degree in human-computer interaction (HCI) is a more traditional path into the field, will give you a bunch of practice, and may give you a good shot at top jobs. It will take a year or two though.

gooki

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2917
  • Location: NZ
    • My FIRE journal
Re: Career Change for English Major, now Paralegal to UX/UI Designer
« Reply #3 on: November 26, 2015, 03:53:47 AM »
My 2 cents. Don't chase a career just for the money. If you already have an interest in improving user experiences, have applied some of the theory to pet projects and enjoyed the feed back then yeah go for it, persue it further.

UX specialists should not need to write code. There lots of ways to prototype without coding. Working in the UX field doesn't even mean you have to be working in software. There's a whole sub field dedicated to service design.

A UX/UI designer role will most likely require html/css/JavaScript knowledge. This is what I do. I'm paid well as effectively I do three jobs (UX specialist, UI designer, front end developer).

There's definitely a shortage of qualified and experienced professionals out there. Most tech companies have realised that having the product manager do the UX as well as their other functions is just to much work. And trusting business analysts or developers to do it results in very odd behaviours.

The biggest problem I see in the industry is qualified UX people who can follow the process, but when it comes down to designing the actual solution they fall short due to a lack of knowledge in UI history and not being able to see all the possible options and rapidly prioritise the suitability of them.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2015, 04:03:11 AM by gooki »

gooki

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2917
  • Location: NZ
    • My FIRE journal
Re: Career Change for English Major, now Paralegal to UX/UI Designer
« Reply #4 on: November 26, 2015, 03:59:37 AM »
PS I have no specific UX qualifications. My experience designing interactive shit (web sites, online training, trade show installations) gave a natural path to UI design and UX research.

gooki

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2917
  • Location: NZ
    • My FIRE journal
Re: Career Change for English Major, now Paralegal to UX/UI Designer
« Reply #5 on: November 26, 2015, 04:11:20 AM »
The design lab courses look fine. They should teach you the fundamentals. The challenge will be to find real world scenarios where you can put it into practise and build up your experience.

dcheesi

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1309
Re: Career Change for English Major, now Paralegal to UX/UI Designer
« Reply #6 on: November 26, 2015, 06:48:44 AM »
I'm interested in the field as well - it's an avenue I am considering pursuing. I do know that UX design is much much more than just coding. UX design is basically like building an information system - but specifically for the "structure" of the system itself. It's like the pre-req for building an actual information system. So, knowledging of coding and what's capable of coding is necessary but I don't think being fluent in any front end language is going to make or break your chances. The same way in that it's not necessarily important to know the detailed code if you're a project manager for an information system. A UX designer is interested in how a customer uses technology to get from point A to point B - and addresses all those problems in between.

Personally I think that replacing a UX designer in the future will be much harder than replacing someone who strictly codes - so that's why I think it's worth pursuing.

I'm not sure if I added anything here - but hopefully I did :P
I think the reason UX people may be hard to replace is that it takes a certain "knack" for look & feel and that most technical (or at least software) people seem to lack. If you think you have the aesthetic and design sense for UX, then go for it; but I don't think it's a discipline where just anyone can go through some training and be ready to do the job well.