User experience (UX) designers take a user-first approach to product development. As more businesses recognize the benefits of keeping their customers front and center, the demand for professionals with UX skills continues to grow.
If you’re interested in landing an entry-level UX design job, you may be wondering how you can build these in-demand skills and gain experience. More advanced UX designers, on the other hand, may be looking for ways to validate their skills to potential employers. UX certification programs and bootcamps provide an opportunity to meet both needs.
Let’s take a closer look at ten common certifications, certificates, and bootcamps to consider. After, we'll discuss how to evaluate a certification program to match your career goals.
By completing the Google UX Design Professional Certificate, available through Coursera, you can equip yourself with the job-ready skills you’ll need for an entry-level role in UX design. This beginner-friendly program lets you learn at your own pace from professional UX designers at Google as you build a foundation in UX principles, best practices, research methods, and tools like Figma and Adobe XD.
Throughout the course, you’ll have the opportunity to build a portfolio that includes high-fidelity mockups, case study reports, and interactive prototypes for three different projects. Upon completion, you can share your information with top employers hiring UX professionals.
Who it's for: Beginners with no prior UX design experience who want to learn from professionals at one of the world's leading tech companies
Length: Approximately nine months (six hours per week)
Tip: Start exploring the course materials for free when you audit the courses. If you decide you want to earn the Certificate, you can upgrade at any time.
Don Norman coined the term “user experience” when he was working at Apple in the 1990s. He went on to co-found the Nielsen Norman Group, a UX research and consulting firm, with the “Guru of Usable Web Pages” Jakob Nielsen.
Become UX Certified by taking any five courses from any NN/g UX Conference and passing an exam for each course. Pre-COVID, these conferences were in-person at destinations around the globe. For now, they’re conducted live virtually with online breakout rooms and other interactive elements.
Advanced certification options from NN/g include Specialty Recognition (pass at least five courses in a single specialty area) and UX Master Certification (complete UX Certification and pass an additional 10 courses).
You can choose to take between one and seven courses at each conference, and you only pay for the courses you register for. That means you can complete your certification in one conference or spread it out over multiple conferences. You’ll have 35 days after each course to pass the exam.
Who it's for: Beginners looking to learn about UX design fundamentals and professionals seeking advanced certification options
Cost: $3200 in tuition for five courses (if you register early for all courses at once), plus $400 in exam fees ($80 per exam)
Length: Flexible (as little as five full days)
Tip: To get a better idea of whether NN/g certification is a good fit, try one of their hour-long, on-demand seminars.
You can achieve two levels of certification from Human Factors International (HFI): Certified Usability Analyst (CUA) for those new to the career, or Certified User Experience Analyst (CXA) for more advanced UX professionals who have already passed the CUA.
Official HFI training programs for both the CUA and CXA include four courses held over the course of 10 days. While attending training isn’t a requirement for taking the certification exams, enrollees have an in-person option (during non-pandemic times) and a live online option.
Active UX consultants teach the courses, which include interactive individual and group exercises, exercise books, and study guides.
Who it's for: Beginners seeking entry-level knowledge or professionals who want advanced training
Cost (US): $5,860 for training and exam ($800 for CUA exam only, $850 for CXA exam only)
Length: 10 days for training, 2.5 hours for exam
You can take this beginner-friendly full-time bootcamp at one of General Assembly’s more than 30 campuses around the world (paused for now) or online. There’s no exam, so you’ll get a signed certificate of completion for finishing the course.
Throughout the 12-week program, you’ll cover a broad range of interface and visual design topics through live lectures, one-on-one instructor check-ins, project toolkits, and interactive collaboration. At the end of the course, you’ll team up with other students to complete a capstone project over the course of a three-week sprint. You’ll also spend time preparing for a job search. The course includes resume reviews, interview prep, and whiteboarding practice.
Who it's for: Beginners who want a concentrated, immersive training experience without the pressure of an exam
Cost: $14,950 (can be paid all at once or in three installments)
Length: Full-time for 12 weeks
Tip: General Assembly also offers part-time and on-demand options for learning UX design.
This fully online program from CareerFoundry is designed for beginners looking to make a career change. Students choose a specialty—voice design, advanced UI skills, or frontend development—and complete a project-based curriculum. Coursework is presented as pre-recorded videos and reading materials.
Tuition includes day-to-day guidance from a tutor and written, video, and phone feedback on portfolio pieces from an industry expert. The program also includes a job guarantee for students that meet specific requirements.
Who it's for: Beginners looking for a flexible online-only program that allows them to focus on one specific area of UX design, and who want personalized mentor resources
Cost: $7,505 if you pay upfront
Length: Six months at 30-40 hours per week or 10 months at 15-20 hours per week
Tip: If you’re considering CareerFoundry, take their free six-day short course to get a feel for their materials and see if it might be a good fit.
The Interaction Design Foundation (IDF), one of the world’s biggest online design schools, offers a variety of online courses and bootcamps for those looking to transition to a UX career. Choose from full-time six- to nine-week bootcamps in topics like UX Fundamentals, Introduction to Design Thinking, or Get a New Job in UX Design. Each includes one-on-one coaching, guided project work, and the chance to build a portfolio.
If you’re looking to develop specific skills, IDF also offers self-paced courses in topics like usability, data visualization, human-computer interaction, accessibility design, and designing for augmented and virtual reality. Each course comes with a certificate of completion.
Who it's for: Beginners and professionals who want a number of course options when building their UX design training
Cost: $16 per month (paid yearly) for access to all courses; $1,182 to $2,192 for bootcamps
Length: Six to nine weeks for bootcamps (40 hours per week); 15 to 18 hours per course
Several universities have started offering graduate certificates in UX, and Bentley University runs one of the most well-established programs. Earning a certificate means completing nine courses: three required courses (Human Factors and the User Experience, Usability Testing, Managing a User Experience Group) and six other courses of your choosing.
Each course is held online or in-person over the course of two days, followed by a portfolio assignment that you’ll have two weeks to complete. Courses take place from 9am to 5pm on Thursdays and Fridays—something to consider if you’re working or have other scheduling obligations.
Who it's for: Beginners and professionals who want the backing of a respected university certification program
Cost: $1,455 per course ($13,095 for full certificate)
Length: Nine two-day sessions plus 45 to 63 hours to complete assignments (five to seven hours per course) completed in as little as one year
The London-based School of UX hosts a range of single day classes and five-day intensives that can be broken down into day-long modules and taken at your own pace. Modules in the intensive program include UX Design, UI Design, Wireframing, Prototyping, and Career Advice. Each day includes a live question and answer session with a professional designer.
While courses are typically held in-person in London, everything has been moved to Zoom during the pandemic. Learners based in North America should consider the time zone difference, as everything is conducted live.
Who it's for: Beginners who want a crash course in UX design followed by personalized mentoring
Cost: £799 ($1,109 at time of writing); individual courses start at £199 each
Length: Five days (flexibly spaced)
The complete UX Academy Journey from DesignLab comprises three sections. The UX Academy Foundations segment is designed to introduce students to the world of UX. The Academy itself includes 480 hours of coursework and projects. Everything is online and on-demand, aside from mentoring sessions and group critiques that will need to be scheduled.
Students who complete the UX Academy will have four projects for their portfolios and have access to the Career Services module for six months. During this time, students are paired with a career coach to practice interview skills and polish their portfolios.
Who it's for: Beginners who want to gain a firm footing in UX design with the option of additional trainings
Cost: Beginning at $6,249 if you pay upfront
Length: Up to 36 weeks (plus six months of Career Services)
With Springboard, you can choose between a UX or a UI/UX Design career track. Programs last six months with the flexibility to study when and where you want. Tuition includes weekly one-on-one mentorship calls, three portfolio projects, and the chance to collaborate with a real company for four weeks.
Completing the course unlocks career support and a six-month job guarantee for eligible students. You’ll also have lifetime access to the course materials (including updates) and the online community.
Springboard recently released a four-week Introduction to Design option geared toward those trying to decide whether a career in UX is a good fit.
Who it's for: Beginners who want a job guarantee from their certification program
Cost: From $6,900 for UX track and $10,000 for UI/UX track
Length: Six to nine months (15 to 20 hours a week)
Working as a UX professional can also be a financially rewarding career. The 2021 Salary Guide from Onward Search, a recruitment and staffing agency for creative professions, reports that the average annual salary for UX designers is $100,400. That figure is $86,800 for UI designers and $90,100 for user researchers .
Unlike in nursing or law—industries with established licensing and certification requirements—you don’t necessarily need a certification to get a job in UX. By earning the right certification, however, you can:
Build essential UX skills
Develop your portfolio
Gain experience in the industry
Validate your skills to potential employers (in some cases)
If you're looking for a structured way to build a foundation in UX design skills, develop some projects for your UX portfolio, and stand apart from other UX designers as a job applicant, then a certificate program or bootcamp could be a good fit for you. It's also an excellent way to start building your network within the industry.
Do some searching for UX certifications and bootcamps, and you’ll notice a wide range of options. Universities, industry associations, and private companies all offer certification programs and bootcamps that can vary significantly in both cost and quality.
As you research and evaluate whether a UX certification or bootcamp is a worthwhile investment for your career, consider the following:
Your goals: If you’re new to UX, you might choose a comprehensive certificate program or bootcamp to start learning the skills, tools, and techniques of the trade. If you’re already established in the industry, you may opt for an advanced certification to hone a particular skill or keep up with trends and technology.
Scope: UX is a broad term. If you have a more specific interest, you’ll find programs on UX design, user interface (UI) design, user research, UX management, and design thinking. Look for programs that align with the area of UX you’re most interested in.
Cost: Prices for UX programs can vary from several hundred to more than ten thousand dollars. Remember, cost and quality don’t always correlate.
Online vs. in person: Before the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the certifications in our list were only available through in-person events. For now, you can complete any of them online. If you choose to pursue a program online, consider whether the program was designed for online learning or adapted due to circumstance.
Full-time vs. part-time: In a full-time program, you’ll be able to move through material more quickly than in a part-time option, but taking a part-time program could make it easier to continue working and managing other life obligations.
Fixed schedule vs. self-paced: Self-paced certification courses allow for greater flexibility—a bonus if you’re working or have a busy schedule. For some learners, following a fixed schedule makes it easier to stay on track.
Projects or portfolio: Your portfolio shows potential employers what you’re capable of doing, and it’s often among the most important elements of your application. If you want to get certified as a way to build out your portfolio, choose a program that includes hands-on project work.
Teachers and mentors: Research who’s teaching the program and what their standing is in the UX industry. If you want professional feedback on your work as you progress, look for programs that include regular one-on-one mentorship calls.
Job guarantee: Some certification programs and bootcamps come with job guarantee offers. For example, if you don’t get a job within six months, you’ll be reimbursed for some or all of your tuition. You may need to meet set requirements, so be sure to read the fine print.
What is validated?: Some courses will give you a certification for attending. Others require an exam or portfolio review to evaluate your skills. Think about what you want your training to communicate to hiring managers.
UX design certifications and bootcamps represent just one way to learn the art and science of UX design. If you're comfortable learning on your own and managing the time it takes to develop new skills and complete UX passion projects, then you could save money by taking advantage of free resources, books, and blogs instead.
Whether you’re just getting started in UX/UI design or are a seasoned professional looking to develop new skills, familiarize yourself with some other learning options.
You don’t have to spend a dime to learn about UX. Do some searching, and you’ll find blogs, podcasts, webinars, and design communities, many of them available for free. These resources are a great option to supplement your studies or to build your own UX curriculum if you enjoy learning independently.
Your portfolio is a visual representation of your skills. Develop one, and you’ll uncover new skills and (hopefully) impress future employers with your work. A portfolio project could be a UX redesign you do for a friend or family member, or some volunteer work for a school or non-profit.
Coursera also offers Guided Projects designed to be completed in less than two hours. Build an e-commerce dashboard in Figma, learn the basics of customer journey mapping in Miro, or work on prototyping in Adobe XD. Each project has a split-screen video so you can follow along as you work, as well as access to all necessary software.
With an individual UX design course, you can evaluate whether UX design might be a good fit or focus on developing a particular skill. Many of the organizations we listed above offer individual courses.
You’ll also find a wide selection of options from top universities on Coursera. Get an Introduction to User Experience Design from Georgia Tech, learn about UX Research at Scale from the University of Michigan, or dive into Web Design Strategy with the California Institute of the Arts.
Many UX designers have at least a bachelor’s degree. While it might not always be required to have a degree in a UX-related field, you might find it helps when it comes time to apply for jobs. Some universities have started to offer degree programs in interaction design or user experience design, but programs in computer science, graphic design, or information architecture often cover overlapping skills. The Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Science from the University of London, available online through Coursera, features UX as a possible focus area.
1. LinkedIn. "The Most In-Demand Hard and Soft Skills of 2020, https://business.linkedin.com/talent-solutions/blog/trends-and-research/2020/most-in-demand-hard-and-soft-skills." Accessed October 29, 2021.
2. LinkedIn. "LinkedIn Jobs on the Rise: 15 opportunities that are in demand and hiring now, https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/linkedin-jobs-rise-15-opportunities-demand-hiring-now-andrew-seaman/." Accessed October 29, 2021.
3. Onward Search. "2021 Salary Guide, https://www.onwardsearch.com/2021-salary-guide/." Accessed October 29, 2021.
This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.