UX certifications are becoming an important part of the tech design profession. This guide will cover the UX certification basics, including the certification process, some of the best UX certification programs, the cost of a UX certification, and online UX certification programs.
UX design is emerging as a popular and satisfying career path for many students and professionals. With high entry-level salaries, work-life balance, and job satisfaction, it’s easy to see why.
Students and professionals who want to pursue UX design as a career, or further hone their skills, have many options. Choosing the right fit for a career in UX design comes down to several factors: some students seek the flexibility of a self-paced online program, while others require a classroom setting to succeed.
Investing in any education – whether in user experience design or something else – is a massive decision in relation to goals, time commitment, and finances. It can be overwhelming to make the right career decision for students and professionals with many different choices.
A UX certification is one option that deserves consideration when pursuing a UX career path. UX design certifications help students obtain a UX design education without a steep price tag.
What is a UX Certification?
UX design certifications options vary in curriculum intensity, length taken to complete, and even the depth of information covered.
A UX design certification is a certificate establishing a student’s knowledge of UX design, such as design principles and theory.
UX design certificates are geared toward a student or designer who seeks to demonstrate their understanding of design and related skillsets.
Some certifications are exam-based, providing seasoned designers with evidence of their knowledge and skills, making them a more competitive job candidate in the ever-changing job market.
Other certifications are learning-based and give both students and existing designers the ability to further hone their craft before entering the job market or making a career shift.
Obtaining a certification depends on the type of UX design certification. Exam-based certificates are earned through satisfactory completion of the UX design exam. By contrast, learning-based certificates are provided upon completing a course or immersive program. These programs include exams but have additional assignments and coursework required to be completed to earn the certification.
Some of the Best UX Certification Programs
- General Assembly UX Design: This course can be taken online or in-person and it can be broken over seven weeks or taken as a one-week intensive. Designed for working professionals, the goal of the course is to teach the UX design process from beginning to end and also familiarize students with industry leading design technologies and tools. Tuition is $3,950 and courses run on a continual basis.
- Interaction Design Foundation: Take courses such as Practical Guide to Usability, Psychology of Interaction, or User Research in order to gain more experience in UX Design. By joining the Interaction Design Foundation, courses can be taken a la carte for $16 a month. The courses are on-demand and each student is given a certificate of completion at the end.
- Design Lab UX Academy: The UX Design Course at Design Lab is broken into three main parts. The first part covers prerequisites, including basic design principles. This section can be taken over eight weeks and requires approximately 10 hours of weekly commitment. The cost for this program is $499. The second phase of the academy can be taken full-time for 15 weeks or part-time for 28 weeks. The cost is $6,249 and includes 480 hours of intensive instruction including four major portfolio projects. Tha last phase, which lasts six months, is career support to help participants land a job in UX.
- Google UX Design Certification: This Google Certification offered in partnership with the online learning platform Coursera, is designed for people with no prior experience in the UX field. Created to help participants land entry level positions, the certification program is divided over seven courses that teach UX basics. The curriculum can be completed in about six months while dedicating ten hours weekly. The cost is $39 per month.
- Nielsen Norman Group: An industry leading UX research and consulting firm, NNG offers a number of design courses and two UX certifications. The first can be completed in 30 hours (or five different courses) and culminates in a UX certification. The second takes 90 hours of training and results in a UX Master Certificate. Tuition for the UX certification ranges between $3,200 and $6,000.
- Human Factors International: HFI offers a number of different UX certification programs, both online and in-person.The courses are offered worldwide and range in pricing and time commitment. The Certified Usability Analyst Certification Course, for example, consists of four courses taught over ten days with tuition of $5,860.
UX vs UI Certification
User interface design (UI) is a close relative of UX design. While UX design focuses more on the information architecture and user experience of an interface, UI design focuses more on the aesthetic design of the interface itself. Button colors, animations, logos, and site-wide colors are all UI design examples.
Many professionals combine their experience and education to become UX/UI designers. These professionals are most likely found at smaller companies or working for themselves by running their own company or operating as freelancers. Conversely, larger companies often hire UX and UI designers as separate employees.
Many online certificates offer a specialty in UX and UI design for professionals looking to hone both skills.
Additionally, several design certifications offer students a UI design certification that focuses specifically on the aesthetic elements of a user interface.
When selecting a design certification that is right for the student, deciding whether to focus on UX, UI, or both disciplines is essential before enrolling in a program.
Benefits of a UX Design Certification
There are many advantages to obtaining a certification in UX design or a UI certification.
For students looking to learn more about the field, immersive certificate programs can be cost-effective to achieve their goals. Many online certificates are free, charging only an exam fee. Others are relatively inexpensive, especially when compared to an overall bootcamp or degree, costing thousands of dollars.
UX certifications are also much shorter than a college degree, master’s degree, and even UX bootcamp path to a career in design. Many can be completed in just a few months—some even in weeks. For exam-based certificates, the exam is only a few hours long.
For professionals looking to hone their craft further or demonstrate their proficiency in UX design, a certification can be a simple way to become a more competitive job candidate through an exam-based certificate.
Another benefit of UX design certifications is the option to study one particular discipline within UX design. This is a great way for professionals to further craft a specific skill set, such as a design tool or trending design concept that a client or company expects.
Cost of a UX Design Certificate
There are many different types of UX and UI design certificates available for students and designers, and the cost of each program varies widely.
Exam-based certificates usually cost significantly less than learning-based certifications. Exam-based certificates typically cost around $150 for an exam fee, while learning-based certificates cost around $12,000. The main difference in the cost comes from the resources provided by the certification program.
Many other certification programs, both exam-based and learning-based, offer a monthly subscription, like Coursera. These courses provide students both self-paced and curriculum-paced options to earn their UX design certification for a flat monthly fee, usually around $50 per month. Many universities and accredited institutions offer certificates on Coursera and similar learning platforms.
Online UX Design Certificates
UX design certificates are an effective way to learn, brush up on, or demonstrate a student’s skills and knowledge in the field. Many UX design certifications are available today, including remote options.
Before COVID-19, a wide selection of UX design certifications was available to students. Students and professionals can obtain both learning-based and exam-based certifications online. Remote learning and exam certifications can be an excellent opportunity for UX design students who otherwise would not be able to gain their certification for schedule or geographic location.
The time commitment required by a UX design certification varies on the type of certification that a student or designer chooses.
Many immersive and learning-based design certifications include a paced curriculum, collaboration with other students, and feedback from professors who are often experts in their field.
Other learning-based certification programs offer students a self-paced option, where the curriculum can be completed on the student’s schedule. Once completed, a certificate of completion is issued to the student.
Certification courses that are considered longer can take around ten weeks to complete. Generally speaking, the longer the program is, the more immersive the program will be for curriculum-paced programs or courses.
Some certification programs offer an immersive learning opportunity for students to learn everything from the basics to more complex theories and skillsets relating to UX design.
Other programs offer a simple exam-based certification that showcases an existing designer’s design knowledge and ability.
Choosing a UX Design Certification
There are many factors to consider when choosing a UX design certification. Each factor depends on the student’s lifestyle, preferences, goals, and current UX design involvement.
For students who seek to start a career in UX design with no previous knowledge or experience, an immersive UX design certification teaches fundamental theories and principles of design while orienting students with the field. Immersive programs can be quite an undertaking, especially curriculum-paced courses. Therefore, it is vital to ensure that the student can devote time and attention to the program before signing up.
Designers who already understand design principles and experience in UX design will find that exam-based certificates are a fast and straightforward way to increase their competitiveness in the job market by demonstrating their abilities.
The flexibility of UX design certificate programs is an attractive aspect of this career path. Professionals that are already working, have families, or otherwise have a busy lifestyle will find that online or self-paced options can help reach their goals without sacrificing prior obligations. Students ready to dive into UX design will find that immersive programs can teach the fundamentals quickly and provide them with a certificate to demonstrate their aptitude when entering the job market.
Another critical factor to consider when choosing the right UX design certification is the amount of collaboration and feedback that a student requires to succeed. UX design certificates are often self-paced or based on a specific preset curriculum. However, there is rarely tutoring, mentoring, or other student support that some students consider vital in their success. Students looking for a more interactive program may find more success in a UX design bootcamp or degree in higher education, where collaboration with other students and instructor feedback are more heavily integrated into the program.
It’s also very important to research the teachers and curriculum offered by a UX design certificate. Ensuring that the topics covered are relevant to a student’s career goals is an important factor that must be considered. Moreover, the course instructors can have a huge impact on the student’s success. Several certifications are taught by UX designers that are leaders in their field. Choosing a program with high-caliber instructors will give the student a more well-rounded look into UX design.
How to Become a UX Designer
There are many paths to learning UX design or continuing one’s education in the field. The factors above must be considered before enrolling in a program to ensure that the program and the career path these certifications support align with the student’s overall goals.
Whether a UX and UI design certification is the right path to take when learning the field will be contingent on the overall career goals, time availability, learning style, and budget.
UX design certifications are a great way to dive into the field quickly, learning all the fundamentals that lead to a successful career in UX design. Weighing a certification program against other options, such as a UX design bootcamp, will come down to the factors outlined above.
UX design certifications are a great way to learn quickly or to further develop a specific skill set within UX design, such as interaction design, a specific design tool (such as Sketch, Adobe XD, or Figma), and to learn about trending topics that are currently popular in the field.
Educational platforms are one of the top places to find high-quality UX and UI certifications. Offering a low cost, online availability, and both self-paced and curriculum-paced programs make these a popular option for a wide variety of students with different goals.
Coursera offers hundreds of UX and UI certification programs for students at different career levels, those with different budgets, and more. Coursera’s sophisticated search filter allows prospective students to distill their results by discipline, learning product, experience level, duration, skill focus, and even language. This feature creates an extremely accessible and personalized option to begin or continue studying UX and UI design. Coursera offers courses that focus on UX design, UI design, and UX and UI design in a single certification. Courses on Coursera are paid as a monthly subscription.
Another fantastic platform for beginning, developing, or honing UX and UI design skills is Udemy. Udemy offers a flat fee per course that students can complete online. This platform provides both self-paced and curriculum-paced learning options. Udemy also has a robust search filter, allowing students to dive in and professionals to further hone their craft.
Colleges and universities also offer in-person and online UX and UI design certifications. Students and professionals can find these via an internet search or by checking with their alma mater.
Students who seek to learn UX design, and professionals who want to hone a particular skill set, will find a wide variety of certificates to meet their individual needs.