Layoffs. Hiring freezes. Economic uncertainty.
Seems like every day we see another dire headline — and hear an even more dire prediction about what the future will bring.
But on the other hand, many sources continue to report a brighter than usual future for UX design.
So … which is true?
Is it a bad time to transition to UX design, or can new designers still manage to land a job and build a successful career in the field?
Let’s take a look at the facts — and how you might be able to pursue a career no matter what the naysayers say.
What’s Happening With the Layoffs in the Tech Industry?
The total count of massive layoffs from tech companies continues to rise, with current estimates sitting around a total of 66,000 so far in 2023.
Reasons for each layoff vary, although we’re seeing a lot of statements from companies that admit to having over-hired during the wild growth of the pandemic, and having to back pedal a bit.
One of the clearest statements came recently from Spotify CEO, Daniel Eck, who announced a restructuring update for the company … which also included a large layoff of 6% of the employee base.
Daniel Eck shares, “To offer some perspective on why we are making this decision, in 2022, the growth of Spotify’s OPEX outpaced our revenue growth by 2X. That would have been unsustainable long-term in any climate, but with a challenging macro environment, it would be even more difficult to close the gap.”
He goes on to say, “In hindsight, I was too ambitious in investing ahead of our revenue growth. And for this reason, today, we are reducing our employee base by about 6% across the company.”
In these cases, it’s important to note that tech instability is often compounded by other factors, such as the volatility of venture capital and startups.
What’s Happening With Non-Tech Industries?
Many new or prospective UX/UI designers have difficulty separating the field of UX/UI design from the tech industry.
So let’s say it again: you don’t have to work in tech to be a UX designer.
Back in November, ZipRecruiter shared results from a recent study that showed many workers who were laid off in the tech industry went on to be hired with other industries like e-commerce, healthcare, fintech, and more.
In fact, the ZipRecruiter analysis goes on to say that “Had tech companies continued growing at the breakneck 2020–2021 pace, they would have monopolized U.S. tech talent and made it impossible for employers in non-tech industries to hire tech talent. Now, other industries may stand a chance.”
If you’re concerned about the instability of tech companies and how it might affect your career, it’s worth looking into the many other industries where UX designers are commonly hired, including:
- Real Estate
- Financial services and banking
- Marketing and advertising
A final note on the topic of layoffs: reports show that layoffs and firings as a whole are about 500,000 less per month than they were before the pandemic.
How Competitive Is the Job Market for UX/UI Designers?
There’s a circulating concern that the recent tech layoffs have filled the talent pool with so many mid and senior level designers that it’s next to impossible for a new UX designer to get hired.
This hypothesis is often linked to the fears surrounding tech layoffs … but in reality, any truth to the concern lies elsewhere:
It’s perennially true that designers with proven experience and competency often have an edge in the job search-especially if they have strong presentation skills and have put the time into creating a strong network. Unless a company is able to provide mentorship and training to a more junior level designer, they will likely gravitate towards candidates who do not require hand-holding in order to fulfill job requirements. (There are many exceptions to this, for specifically junior level or apprentice design roles, internships, etc.)
If you’re serious about becoming a UX designer, take heart: it IS possible to land a job as a new UX/UI designer (and many of our UX Academy graduates have gone on to receive offers for mid and even senior level positions as their first role in the field).
What Are My Chances of Finding Employment as an Entry-Level UX Designer?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment of UX designers is projected to grow 23% from 2021 to 2031-much faster than the average for all occupations.
And that’s good news if you’re wondering whether this field is already too saturated with excited new designers who are ready to make a difference in the world of product design.
Career switchers, especially, have a unique advantage when it comes to hireability as a new designer, and can leverage additional experience to help excel in their roles.
For example: if you previously worked in healthcare, you might strategically apply to UX jobs that are in the healthcare industry to increase your chances of landing an interview for job positions that require X years of experience working in the industry.
Career switchers can also leverage soft skills from past roles (like project management or leading a team) to make their applications stand out for roles that require these skills.
5 Questions to Consider In Your Transition to UX Design
If you’re considering transitioning into UX design, there are some things to think about before taking the plunge.
1. Do you have a passion for UX?
Although UX design is often touted as a great career path for the earning potential, the desire for a bigger salary won’t be enough to merit a job offer.
What will make a difference to hiring managers-aside from your skills and culture fit-is whether you truly care about and enjoy the day to day work of a UX designer.
From conducting user research to finding creative ways to solve business and user needs, there’s no shortage of highly rewarding activities for a UX designer … if you like that kind of thing, that is.
But how do you know if this is something you’ll actually enjoy doing on a daily basis?
There are great intro courses, like UX Academy Foundations, that are specially designed to help people interested in making a career switch to experience a small part of what it feels like to work in UX/UI design … before investing thousands of dollars (or more) in a more intensive program or UX design bootcamp.
2. Have you mastered foundational UX/UI design skills?
This might seem obvious … but it’s worth talking about for a moment.
If a company is looking to hire a UX designer, they expect you to be able to accomplish the day to day successfully on your own, within a reasonable time and with reasonable resources.
If you don’t know how to conduct user research, for example, or aren’t sure why prototyping is even necessary (or how to do it), you will probably not be a hirable candidate for any UX position, even at a junior level.
Invest in UX design courses or a high quality bootcamp to help ensure that you have those baseline skills that are required for any UX-related position.
→ Learn more: A List of the Best UX Design Bootcamps
3. How strong is your portfolio?
Your design portfolio is a make-it-or-break-it tool in your job search.
It’s also about much more than showing off some nice-looking visual designs.
Your UX portfolio is your opportunity to truly stand out from the crowd and prove that you understand the design process, can think critically about a problem, and apply data from research to arrive at strong design solutions.
For the best chance of success, have your portfolio reviewed by an experienced designer or design mentor in your network. The critical feedback you receive can help you uplevel the way that you present your work.
4. Are you building a professional network?
Did you know that an estimated 60% of jobs are found through networking?
For UX designers-regardless of your experience level-building and nurturing a professional network is crucial.
What’s the best way to start? An easy first step is to attend events or join communities where UX/UI professionals are already gathering-either in your local area or via an online UX design community. You can also reach out directly via LinkedIn or social media, if there’s someone in specific you’d like to connect with.
5. Have you considered other roles within the field of UX/UI design?
UX design is a growing field, and one that allows you to pursue a variety of job titles or nuanced roles.
Learn more about the career path options in the field of UX/UI design.
If you’re more data-minded and prefer the research phase of the UX design process, you might want to consider a role as a UX researcher. Or, if you really enjoy crafting microcopy, the specialized role of UX Writer or Content Designer might be a good place to start.
So … Is It A Good Time To Transition to UX Design?
That’s a decision you need to make for yourself.
The latest reports estimate that demand will continue to grow for UX designers in the near future. And, despite the recent tech layoffs, there continues to be a high demand for skilled professionals across many industries.
Ultimately you are the one who has to commit-to fully invest the time into learning, training, and mastering the skills you need to in a UX design role. Finding a new job is always challenging, and commonly takes anywhere from several weeks to several months before you receive a job offer.
But if UX design is a career you truly want to pursue, there are opportunities to pair a high-quality education with personalized mentorship, networking, and career support.
When you’re ready to take the next step, we recommend that you start with something like UX Academy Foundations, a short 4 week course that’s designed to prepare you for a more intensive bootcamp like UX Academy.
In UX Academy Foundations, you’ll learn fundamental visual and UI design skills and meet 1:1 with your own personal, experienced design mentor. With this format, you’ll get to experience the world of design and get an insider’s perspective on what it’s like to work in the field. By the end of the course, you’ll get to work on a design challenge that you can use to apply to UX Academy.