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I'm getting more and more into this field and for a while now i've known this is the career I want. There's one thing that bugs me though, I'm 24, no bachelor's degree and my only experience is in menial labor.

I know that you don't actually a computer related degree to break into ux but would the fact that I dont have a college degree at all be a problem.

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2 Answers

This is a tough predicament but I refuse to say that it's impossible to get a career in UX without a BS/BA.

One of the things you can do that comes to mind is to create a blog about user experience - that's a start. Your blog entries must include:

  1. Personal frustrations with specific UI from various devices - not just software. Look around in your kitchen. There's a ton of usability issues in microwaves, toasters, refrigerators, blenders, etc. Also, pay close attention to non-electronic devices like locks, door knobs, and the shower (ugh, lots of terrible designs here especially regarding the temperature of the water). Include screen shots.
  2. Your proposed solutions to anything you write about from #1. This demonstrates that you know what goes through users' minds and how you'll make it easier for more people to use things. Include screen shots of your solutions. (You will probably need to use software such as Illustrator, Photoshop, or Gimp (Free) - and by using these programs, you will find usability issues that you might want to address in your blog.)
  3. Knowledge of UX principles (you will need to do some reading and research), and how a principle solves a specific usability issue.
  4. Review an existing software or website. Write about what they did right and what they could improve based on your experience and research.

Ensure that users can comment on your entries and that you correspond timely and accordingly.

If you decide to earn a degree with UX in mind as your ultimate goal, you could go for Communication, Organizational Studies, or even general studies (because they would address issues about how people receive info, think, and work through things). You wouldn't need Digital Multimedia, Computer Science, or Engineering - those would be overkill for your goal, though I would personally encourage you to go for them if you want.

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Excellent answer :) –  Mervin Johnsingh Feb 23 at 17:19
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Mickael Caruso has given a great answer. In addition to what he has said, I would add a few more pointers which I hope might help.

  1. Build an online digital presence : There are hosts of sites which allow you to showcase your design skills (behance and dribble are good options). A good profile in behance and dribble will help you build an initial profile. Also look at establishing a blog post as Mickael suggested as that would help you showcase your experience and understanding of UX and promote your thinking

  2. While maintaining a blog post is a good way to promote your online presence, also considering writing blogs for well known UX blogs and websites. You will get more visibility that way and establish your online presence stronger.

  3. Read up on UX and learn as much as you can and participate in activities which show case your UX thinking. Quora and UX stack exchange are good choices to learn more and also show your capabilities.

  4. Consider taking upon volunteering for UX projects : This will allow you to get some first hand experience in working on UX projects (skillsforchange.com is a personal favorite of mine to look at design projects) and also will build up a portfolio

  5. Consider looking at roles in startups: Unfortunately most large organizations I know require you to have atleast a bachelors degree. Considering looking at startups to get your career going and in getting some experience. Of course before that start building and online presence and portfolio so that you can make a statement for yourself with your profile.

I also recommend looking at this article about doing a career change to UX. To quote the article

You don’t need a special degree

First off, I’ll say that it’s not necessary to go back to school for another degree to get into UX design. If you’re motivated and willing to teach yourself by reading blogs, web design books, attending workshops, and creating your own projects, then you’re more than capable of breaking into field and finding a good job.

You do need a thoughtfully-designed portfolio

You’ll definitely need a portfolio of work to show potential employers. Ideally it’s a website you’ve built* that showcases a select number of your best projects. Each project should provide:

  • an overview
  • who the client was
  • the problem you were trying to solve (which should proceed from user and business goals)
  • the process you used to work through to a solution
  • who you collaborated with
  • documentation that resulted from that process
  • the solution (usually in the form of wireframes or final visual mockups) and any follow-up research determining the success of the project.

I also recommend looking at this excellent article from UX Matters for additional inputs.

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