How to Transition into UX/UI Design from a Non-Design Career


Debunking some of the most common myths of design career transition
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Written by Gyeongwon Kwak, social media content writer at Path Unbound. Edited by Stella Guan, Founder & CEO of Path Unbound.

There are many different ways one can transition to a UI/UX design career from another profession.

Nowadays, it is more and more common to see professionals switching from non-creative careers into creatives ones.

Switching into the design industry can be a stressful experience for some because it is a drastic change from their current or previous careers and it can feel like a set back.

However, contrary to common beliefs, switching careers doesn’t automatically revert you back to a blank slate.

Here are some of the most common concerns people have when they switch careers to design.

  1. Will I need to spend a lot of time to learn design programs?

No, you don’t have to spend a lot of time learning design programs and tools — if you start with the newer ones.

Traditional graphic design tools such as Adobe Photoshop take a long time to master for beginners, but newer digital design tools like Figma, Adobe XD, and Sketch are much easier to pick up.

Start with the newer design tools first.

Once you’re comfortable with them, learn about the more difficult and traditional design programs.

We still recommend learning the Adobe creative suite after you’ve mastered newer digital design tools. Adobe programs are very powerful and remain to be industry standard. It would be a missed opportunity to not know them as a designer.

Our free, full-length visual design course includes tutorials to the most popular digital design programs (Adobe xD, Sketch and Figma) as well as Adobe programs most commonly used by designers such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and After Effects.

2. Do I have to get a design degree?

The answer is no!

A design degree is not required to get hired as a UX/UI designer. It is possible to become a self-taught designer but it is definitely helpful to take online courses to learn core skills and build your portfolio.

At Path Unbound, we offer a learning path different from most UI/UX bootcamps. We launched School of Design — a completely free and open-sourced way to learn design foundation for people new to the design industry.

You can learn at your own pace with exercises to help you practice what you learned. We believe it’s important to provide an equitable path to design for everyone.

As you learn more about design, our Portfolio School provides a bespoke approach that helps students significantly elevate their portfolio competitiveness.

We discuss important topics such as personal branding, storytelling, presentation, visual design and no-code custom website building in depth, which is ultimately the most important factor for students to be job-ready.

3. Do I have to start over from the bottom?

No, you do not have to start over from the bottom.

Don’t think that your previous experiences and jobs outside of design are unimportant or irrelevant.

Create a specialty in your portfolio relating to your previous career or passion. This is going to be what sets you apart from other designers.

4. Do I have to take a pay cut?

No, you do not have to take a pay cut.

Designers are needed in many different industries, from healthcare to consumer packaged goods.

Many employers are willing to great salaries for designers, including junior designers.

For junior UX/UI designers, the typical starting salary is approximately $ 89,500 USD (per year) according to ZipRecruiter.

5. How do I build a portfolio?

If you switched from a non-design career to design, it is very likely that you don’t yet have a portfolio.

Portfolios are essential for designers so it’s important that you have one before you start looking for design jobs.

However, it is important to note again that a design degree is not essential to find design jobs. You can also create personal projects by redesigning apps/websites you use.

Path Unbound’s Portfolio School is a great program to help you build your portfolio pieces when you don’t know where to start.

We provide a free portfolio evaluation for prospective students who want to know where their portfolio stands against industry benchmarks.

6. How long does it take before I can land my first design job?

For some, it can be as short as 2 months after finishing their portfolio. You can shorten this time period for yourself as much as possible by constantly improving your portfolio.

Switching careers can be challenging but hopefully, the tips and resources we mentioned above will make your journey to becoming a designer a little less daunting.

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