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The Top 5 Characteristics of Perfect UX/UI Boot Camp Candidates

Enrolling in a UX/UI boot camp wasn’t the right choice for me, and I wished I knew this beforehand.


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Kathryn Lichlyter

3 years ago | 6 min read

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash
Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

Enrolling in a UX/UI boot camp wasn’t the right choice for me, and I wished I knew this beforehand.

Sure, I networked with some amazing designers and challenged my learning and design skills like never before. At the end of the day, though, enrolling in a UX/UI boot camp at a later date may have saved me a lot of time, energy, and money that could have been better spent elsewhere (especially in the midst of a global pandemic).

Having a clear understanding of what characteristics make someone a perfect candidate for UX/UI boot camp may help you save time, money, and energy as well. If you discover you’re not in the ideal demographic for a boot camp, don’t worry — there are other ways to learn about UX and UI design to kickstart your design career.

You Might Be A Perfect Boot Camp Canadiate If…

You have enough time to work on projects outside of class.

Within most programs, the projects you work on are expected to be showcased within your portfolio once you graduate. My admissions counselors recommended we spend up to twenty hours of extra time outside of class on projects and homework. If you are not able to set aside a decent chunk of your week to work on boot camp coursework, then you should pursue other forms of education or wait for when you are able to dedicate enough time to your homework.

You learn quickly.

When admissions say boot camps are a ‘fast-paced environment,’ they’re not lying. Even participating in a part-time boot camp (which met for three classes a week for twenty-four weeks) was extremely exhausting. Not only are you learning new tools, such as Figma and Adobe XD, but you’re also learning about large-scale abstract concepts you’ll continue learning for the rest of your career (how to design for trust, user accessibility, design ethics, delivery tactics, etc.). By all means, you’re not expected to be an expert on all of these within a week, or even over a span of six months.

My boot camp classes were recorded so we could review them at later dates if needed. The classes were structured to offer kinesthetic, audial, and visual opportunities of learning the content, to provide all students the ability to learn in our best methods. I cannot speak on behalf of all boot camps when it comes to how the content is taught, but if you learn in a different method regularly used within classes, there are countless sources online (and most likely provided by the boot camp itself) to aid you in learning in the best ways for your mind.

You have a bachelor’s degree.

Boot camps are designed for people to quickly transition into UX or UI careers, as the demand for designers is very high at this moment. InVision’s Product Design Hiring Report states about 70% of managers increased the size of their design team within the past year and expect to continue increasing the sizes of their design teams in the future. That said, many entry-level jobs still require you either to have a bachelor’s degree or up to three levels of experience in the design field, which can be rough to land if you only have a three-month or six-month boot camp under your belt (it is possible, though).

If you aren’t able to afford a college degree, or even if you don’t have the time to complete one, a boot camp is still a good form of a quick and less-costly education. Just be aware that you may have to take up an internship or freelance for a while until you gain enough experience for entry-level design positions.

You take and provide criticism well.

If you have any presenting, public speaking, or marketing experience, then you can easily apply your skills to one of the most fundamental aspects of the designer’s career: Defending your design decisions.

Prepare to work on your critiquing and communicating skills throughout the boot camp. When it comes to dealing with clients, co-designers, stakeholders, and developers, not only is having the ability to take feedback and criticism important but so is the ability to succinctly communicate your design decisions to each party in a vernacular they understand.

You are able to afford it.

This one’s a no-brainer. If you aren’t able to afford a boot camp, other forms of UX/UI education might be better for you in the long run.

On average, boot camps within this current market cost anywhere from $6,000 to $16,000 (USD). You will also have to buy the tools needed for the course, books to get you introduced to UX/UI design, and fund your own transportation and parking passes (if the boot camp is in-person).

Bonus: You have a previous career in design.

This is not required to be a good UX/UI boot camp candidate, but a background in design gives you an upper advantage during UI-related projects. Having a previous understanding of color theory, typography, grids, and brand guidelines is very helpful when prototyping pixel-perfect designs.

Why these Characteristics Matter

UX/UI boot camps are a huge commitment, and you should not waste your time, energy, or money on a certificate that ultimately leaves you burnt out, broke, or halfway through an identity crisis.

Although the UX and UI industries themselves are very fast-paced and behave similarly to boot camps, during boot camps you have to learn a behemoth of content in a very short period of time. Boot camps aren’t for the faint of heart, especially those who are still unsure if UX and/or UI design is a career path they’d like to pursue. If you are uncertain whether a boot camp is right for you, find someone who has completed a boot camp and ask for their opinion, especially if you find someone who completed a boot camp program you’re interested in since every boot camp program varies slightly in curriculum and pricing.

Photo by heylagostechie on Unsplash
Photo by heylagostechie on Unsplash

Boot Camp Alternatives

If you don’t believe you are the ideal candidate for a UX/UI boot camp, there are plenty of other ways to get started in UX/UI design.

Non-Boot Camp Online courses.

Online courses provide you with the opportunity to have more control over what you learn about. If you’re more interested in UX writing, UX research, UI design, or product design, there are topic-specific online courses that allow you to gain a little bit of a more detailed education in that subject than what’s taught in a UX/UI boot camp, where the curriculum quickly touches on all of these design disciplines in two-week time periods.

Depending on how the course is structured, you should be able to receive feedback on any work completed over the course. If you aren’t able to receive feedback on your work through the course’s network, reach out to other designers in your network so you can still get used to critiques and feedback.

Reading.

As with the online courses, there are boundless libraries of books you can read in order to learn about UX and UI design. If you’re uncertain what books to start reading, look at a list of popular UX and UI books here for guidance. Plus, there are great online publications online such as UX Magazine, Smashing Magazine, and Nielsen Norman Group available to you for free.

Sneaking UX/UI work into your current job position.

Ask your manager or boss if the company’s website needs revamping or revising to gain some UX/UI experience. Gemma Sweeny, a UX designer who did just this, convinced their manager to allow them to conduct usability testing on any new systems released by the company and designed some graphic design elements for the systems. This tactic is a great way of showing how you have initiative and ambition in becoming a UX and/or UI designer.

Networking.

If you live in an area with a strong UX/UI population, sites like Meetup and UXPA are great ways to find events to network and connect with fellow designers. These designers will provide you with more guidance in finding what you need to learn to start your career in the UX and/or UI industry, and they might even set you up with your first internship or entry-level position.

If you find yourself in an area where few UX or UI designers live, Eventbrite hosts great virtual get-togethers.

Bachelors or Masters degree.

Now, this recommendation is not the most accessible to all designers. If you do find yourself in a situation where you’re able to pursue a college degree, you can find a list of the most popular UX/UI-related programs at UX Mastery and Study.com.




No matter how you choose to learn about UX and UI design, there’s a multitude of sources, programs, and courses out there you can utilize to start your design career.

In the end, though, I hope you learn the fundamentals of UX and UI design and discover the joy of learning and challenging yourself. Graduating from a boot camp (or online course, or a college degree) is not the end of your education as a UX and/or UI designer — it’s a lifelong journey of pursuit and peculiarity.

Buckle up and enjoy the ride.

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Created by

Kathryn Lichlyter

Kathryn is a user experience designer in Denver, CO. They uncover practical, inclusive, and accessible digital solutions with great attention to detail and precision. Since graduating from a UX/UI boot camp in 2020, Kathryn has worked as a UX designer for two tech startups and a B2G software company. They're currently enrolled in the undergrad Emergent Digital Practices program at the University of Denver.


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