I see a lot of people taking this certification nowadays and I wonder if its actually worth it and how is it received by the industry and does it really help in bringing you up to speed with UX and usability best practices. Can anyone who has taken the exam before provide inputs on its benefits and also its cons if any.

I did see the question Certified Usability Professional and David's answer did mention that he found it useful but I would like to get more context in what sense people might find it useful and how it could potentially supplement or enhance a career.


I completed the CUA course back in 2008-9 (I think) followed by the exam a few months later. Although I have a Degree in a related field (Graphic and Interactive Design), I wanted to suppliment this with a UX specific certification.

The course was certainly useful. For the most part it reassured me that my level of existing knowledge was sound, and helped to backup areas of weakness. The module on research was of particular interest, not coming from a particularly research heavy background.

However, I didn't think the module on Design was of particular use.

From a career perspective, at the time, it helped to position me as the UX specialist within the company. However, I don't think it has had much if any impact on me securing subsequent roles. The jobs I've held since have been more about prior experience and current knowledge. Maybe the certificate helped when companies were reviewing my CV, but I don't it would have been a deciding factor. Maybe if you're less experienced (I have 14 years industry experience) it would be of greater benefit.

The job I was in at the time was with a Design agency. In that context the certification was very useful. When we were pitching for new work and introducing the team, it was always mentioned within my bio to help position me as a specialist. In my current role (working internally within a Financial org) it's still recognised, but in my opinion carries little weight.

However, in my old role, I would have liked to have established it as a course for all team members to undertake to ensure a strong and consistent base knowledge. I'd like to do something similar in my new role, as many of the people performing a UX function are from more of a Business Analysis background and educating them on UX will take time.

So in summary:


  • Helped to position me as a specialist within a large team
  • Helped my agency win work and position itself as UCD focused
  • Would be good as a recognised benchmark across a team with mixed abilities and experience
  • Attending the courses enabled me to network with other likeminded people, of which many remain as contacts today
  • Certain areas covered were of great interest and helped me to approach things more professionally (e.g. research techniques)


  • Expensive if undertaking the whole course + exam
  • Made little if any difference when applying for new jobs
  • Experience and knowledge counts for far more
  • Recognised within UX circles, but people have mixed opinions of it, outside of the industry it's rarely recognised.
  • Mixed opinions on the course material, didn't feel like my knowledge improved significantly
  • 1
    I thought I'd expand on my answer with a blog post, which has had some interesting comments added. If anyone's interested you can read it here: shortboredsurfer.com/2013/04/…
    – paulseys
    Apr 10 '13 at 12:26

As someone who is involved with hiring UX designers and researchers, a UX certification on a resume doesn't impact my review of a candidate. The single thing that I'm most interested in is a candidate's portfolio, regardless of their level of experience.

When I review the resume of a fresh college graduate, their college degree is useful to see (a degree in design, HCI, or CS is most likely to be positive, but very few degrees would be negative; also, a MS or MA is more positive than a BS or BA). In their portfolio, I want to see what UX work they've done (class projects, internships, other jobs, volunteer work, etc) and where their UX interests lie (research? design? big data? mobile? ... ).

When I review the resume of someone who is experienced in UX, I glance at their degree, but their degree has a much smaller influence than it does for a fresh college graduate. For someone with UX experience, I only care about what they've done: what they have accomplished, what constraints they were under, what they did well and what they didn't do well, what they learned from those projects, etc. I'm also looking for someone who can show me how they have grown in their career, such as taking on larger UX projects, mentoring other employees, presenting public talks about their work, etc.

When I review the resume of someone who is experienced in another field and is looking to switch to UX, then I look for a portfolio that shows me how they either made UX a part of their current role or did some UX work on the side to build up their portfolio. I also want them to be able to clearly explain to me why they're interested in moving to UX now, and how what they have learned in their positions to date will help them bring a unique perspective to UX and to the position that I have open. For example, someone who has done marketing work and has gone back to school to get a UX degree should be able to tell me about how brand and UX are related. A developer should be able to tell me about how their deep technical skills can help them be a better researcher or designer. There are lots of relevant and important skills that you can learn in other fields, such as communication, presentation, influencing, ability to manage multiple projects simultaneously, and so on.

There are a few things outside of your portfolio that will discount you in my consideration. For example, lots of typos or a poorly-formatted resume is a bad sign, because it tells me that you're not detail-oriented, and a lot of great UX is in getting the details right. A cover letter that is generic and doesn't discuss my company, the position that I'm hiring for, and how you are a great candidate for that position based on the items that are listed in the job description is also less likely to get my attention. A generic cover letter tells me that my position wasn't interesting enough for you to expend sufficient effort to customize a letter to me, and so I'm probably going to spend more of my energy on someone who did take the time to explain exactly why they think they're a great candidate for this particular position.


I took the CUA coursework in July in Seattle and passed the exam a few days later. So it's too soon to understand what impact, if any, it will have on my career. My expectation, however, is that it'll be of very little value in landing a job at a startup, some value in landing a job at an agency, and a great deal of value in getting a UX job at larger enterprise companies.

I had my own specific reasons for wanting to get the certification that might not apply anywhere else: I've been doing UX research at a large enterprise and feeling like I needed a credential to enhance my credibility when talking to people from traditional research backgrounds. Also, frankly, my company was willing to pay for it and Seattle is lovely in the summertime.

I enjoyed the coursework itself. Some of it might seem painfully basic to people who spend a lot of time on here, and many other people in the class came from non-UX backgrounds (everything from copywriting to marketing to SEO). But it was a good review of foundational research (like the study that went into Fitt's Law) and best practices and the instructors certainly knew their stuff.

In sum I'd recommend it most strongly to someone considering a career change, though ideally only after they've spent a year or so doing some sort of UX work. The coursework makes a lot more sense if you have that context.

Hope this helps.


In UX experience and/or a degree is essential. While I am aware of these types of certification I prefer that it is backed up with solid project work or a very good covering letter.

Of course, certifications will give you a solid grounding of the basics of UX, but...

When we're selecting applicants the most important thing is that there is a demonstrable understanding of good UX, now while a certification might indicate understanding it doesn't demonstrate understanding and that's where experience comes in.

Having said that, applicants will get to interview stage no matter what certifications they have if they show passion and insight; I tend to set applicants a mini project to see what they come up with as this tells me if they think a certain way.


Certifications help Experience demonstrates UX skills better Demonstrable understanding, through example, is essential

Also: you might want to post your email you sent me as the guys on here are ninja sharp uxers.


This course is waste of money pls don't do it, HFI is making money out of this, they don't teach exact design and they don't test your designing skills, they test your english skills and within that time what decision you take i mean answer, this is not at all measuring your actual skills, they confuse you saying usability means easy to use, efficient, learnability and so on and at the same time they tell you if you follow only this user will not happy, you need to add playfulness and fun to your applications which we don't know and we are not here to teach you we will only tell you what research say's and that too they will tell you orally in that 10days training section.

The process they suggest is not at all suitable to many organizations and definitely for creative applications.

I will give you one example what they taught in the training, in user research you need to do user interview if this is not possible gather data in different methods which suits for your budget and time and in Usability testing they will suggest you to test application with actual users at the same time they will tell you user might give you wrong data also pls be careful and so on

They don't have standard best practices, they only teach problems faced during their developments and their own answers for that.

Please don't waste your money&time this exam is only for those candidates who are good at speaking english, not for the candidates who are good at design don't have command over english.

Please believe in you work experience and observations those will teach you actual designing standards which suits to your situations.

by paying a huge amount to HFI you can only fail in real life work situations if you follow them client will definitely reject your work which is my experience too.


Yeap, for me, It very useful for 2 reasons.

  • Prepare for big opportunity working with large and professional company. But remember, this just a certificate not your own experience.
  • Creating credential within community and team. In case you don't have evidence to prove that you are an expert, the certificate will indicate your level.
  • This isn't an answer to the question. Is this a useful certificate to hold? Without actually answering the question your answer is likely to be deleted.
    – JonW
    Jan 23 '13 at 9:32
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    @JonW: Is it cool know:) Jan 23 '13 at 9:46

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