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Mapping Out Your UX Design Career

By: Lindsay McKay

Published On: July 14, 2021

 UX Design Career

UX designers consistently rate their happiness and job satisfaction as above average. It is no wonder that more and more people are joining the field. People from all backgrounds can succeed in UX design, psychology, marketing, communications, graphic design, and so much more. While most professionals have a degree, all you need to start your UX design career journey is a certificate from a UX design certification, as well as a portfolio. You have completed your UX design course, and you are ready to start your career, but now what? You have researched all the other career options in UX design and have decided on a UX designer. But what does that look like? Is there room for growth? Where could you be in 5, 10, or 15 years? These answers are not easy to find. Below, I have mapped out two paths: a managerial path and a technical path. Read on to learn the difference of the two paths and what is necessary for each job role. 

UX Design Career Map

UX Junior Designer 

A UX designer, junior designer, or intern will likely be the first job title you have. In this role, you have 0 -3 years of experience and are expected to: 

  • Have a certificate from a UX design course 
  • Be proficient in your UX design skills 
  • In the mindset of learning and growing 
  • Able to communicate your ideas 
  • Have completed at least one solo project 

Mid-level Designer  

After a few years of learning and growing with your UX design team, you can move up to a mid-level designer. As a mid-level designer, you have 3 -6 years of experience and also: 

  • Proficient in both your UX skills and tools 
  • Not only create designs but able to back up your decisions 
  • Take responsibility for your projects 
  • Know exactly who to collaborate with within your organization and how to effectively communicate with them 

Typically, this is where you come to your two different career paths, the leadership and managerial path or the individual contributor and technical path.  

Leadership/Managerial Path 

UX Team Lead 

To become a UX Team Lead, you will need to be in the industry for 6 – 10 years as well as demonstrate: 

  • Strong communication skills 
  • Your ability to work effectively with stakeholders or clients 
  • Your ability to develop and strategize plans for your team to create designs efficiently  

UX Manager 

A UX manager has 6-10 years of experience as well but can also: 

  • Bring improvements to UX processes to increase efficiency  
  • Develop career strategies for your team members 
  • Delegate UX tasks to team members beneath you 

UX Director 

The final level of the managerial UX design career path is the title of UX director. A UX director will have 10+ years working in the UX design or project management field. Some companies may prefer you to have a degree in a director role. Responsibilities may include: 

  • Develop UX programs and foster growth 
  • Work directly with clients dealing with the business side 
  • Manage and supervise all the UX team leads and designers  
  • Strategize agendas to deliver valuable industry level products 

Individual Contributor/Technical Path 

UX Senior Designer 

To become a UX senior designer, you will need to be in the industry for 6 – 10 years as well as being: 

  • Able to own all projects 
  • Demonstrate expert knowledge of UX processes and tools 
  • Mentoring junior designers and advising on best practices 

UX Staff Designer 

A UX staff designer also has 6-10 years of experience but will also: 

  • Be involved in hiring new team members 
  • Compile design recommendations 
  • Deal with clients 

UX Principle Designer 

The top level of the technical path is a UX principle designer. You are in the most specialized role in your field with a deep knowledge level of UX design with 10+ years of experience. This role includes: 

  • Leading all design projects 
  • Bringing new ideas to the table 
  • Being a mentor to everyone else on your design team 
  • Be involved in hiring new team members 

No matter which path you decide is for you, the most important thing is to start off with a strong foundation. Taking a comprehensive UX design course will arm you with the foundational skills and knowledge you need to succeed in UX design.  


The information contained in this post is considered true and accurate as of the publication date. However, the accuracy of this information may be impacted by changes in circumstances that occur after the time of publication. Ashton College assumes no liability for any error or omissions in the information contained in this post or any other post in our blog


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