I get asked this question waaaaaaaaaay too often. 

And rightfully so, because people who are just starting out want to know if those readily available learning options are worth it. Let’s face it: you have a handful of options to pick from: Interaction Design Foundation, General Assembly, CareerFoundry, Udemy etc.

As with everything in life, short answer is: it depends. But without fluffing around too much, let me give you just a few points that might help you make the decision. 

TL;DR:

Is it recognised? Yes, as much as any other course/cert. but rarely does anyone look at these when assessing you as a pro. Check the below notes on why.

What I think of it? Any course is a great course as long as you plan to apply that knowledge. These options make it easy to get fundamentals in one place, at an affordable cost.

Should you do it? Yes. If you’re wondering about it and reading this article – chances are you’d benefit from it. For each its own. It could be that it would boost the confidence in your UX skills or just add an extra marker to your resume.

Now here are the key elements and context:

  1. If we talk about your resume: the courses and certifications are most relevant if you’re a novice. Think of it as an ice breaker or supplemental info for getting an internship.
  2. Let’s face it, you will get a certificate in the end of it, doesn’t matter the performance. Just keep in mind that the more senior you’ll become the less relevant such info will become. Instead, the key achievements, awards (if any) and everything out the expected will make the biggest difference.
  3. And don’t get me wrong: any course or certificate is useful to shape you as a professional. Just keep in mind that the hiring manager won’t look at it as a priority. They will look for: work history, portfolio examples, education. Usually, in that order too.
  4. As hinted in the previous point: if you’re thinking to do to find a new job, then what matters most is: experience, portfolio cases, your design thinking capabilities, design rationale etc. Everything what you can only acquire with time. Note, that some courses will help you produce portfolio case as you learn – check the agenda and outcomes to expect.
  5. When picking the right course, the name or prestige of the course does not matter. Hiring managers will care about the outcomes and what you have learned. The brand or school name? not so much.
  6. Speaking of ROI: It’s an affordable option to 1) boost your resume with extra creds. 2) create a foundation for your future self. 
  7. It’s what you make of it. As no school can make an average person into an Einstein the same principle applies to any course you will take. You need to set goals and objectives before even applying for it.
  8. Immediately after the course, if you plan to kickstart a project (passion or paid) to test newly learned skills, then you’ll get the biggest bang for the buck. The knowledge and experience acquired this way will allow you to progress much quicker. On the other hand if you don’t, it’s definitely a waste of your time and resources.
  9. Consider that you should invest in education and personal development regardless. I go by using this rule of thumb: at least 10% of your income has to spent on self improvement. Short term you’ll sharpen the sword, in the long term you’ll build a versatile toolkit.
  10. What worked for someone else probably won’t work for you. You see, there is no clearly etched blueprint when it comes to learning UX. On top of that, depending on the geography, demographics, tech availability you might need to do extra work to achieve what other UX pros could achieved in less time and effort. Perhaps a course could give you a competitive edge, but maybe you need to change other variables to achieve your goal?

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