What is a UX bootcamp? UX Question #6

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Levar from Landstuhl, Germany, asks: what is a UX bootcamp?

I love that question. Thanks for asking, Levar. This is UX Question number 6 and I am Ben Judy.

What is a UX bootcamp? Well, it’s a training program that equips you with the foundational knowledge and skills to become a UX professional and get your first UX job.

The training is usually centered around a custom curriculum and most are entirely online, so you can learn from anywhere.

A typical UX bootcamp will promise to take you from knowing nothing about UX to being fully ready for your first job in a pretty short time frame, usually between three months to a year.

Students will usually participate in intensive, project-based training and perhaps some direct mentoring from a more experienced UX professional. The cost can also range quite a bit, anywhere from free to nearly $20,000.

These UX bootcamps are a relatively new phenomenon. They certainly didn’t exist when I started my design career around the turn of the millennium. But they’ve become wildly popular as a faster, cheaper, and more focused alternative to education, when compared to, say, a two or four year degree from a traditional university or college.

The number of bootcamps has exploded with dozens to choose from. Some of the popular names include Springboard, Flatiron School, CareerFoundry, General Assembly, and Designlab. Full disclosure: I am a mentor through Designlab. Some big tech companies are getting in on the action: Google offers a UX Design Professional Certificate that entails 6 months of self-paced, part-time study.

There are some criticisms of UX bootcamps. Some say they overpromise and underdeliver in regard to actually landing a job. Some bootcamps actually make a qualified guarantee that you will get a job after completing their course. Your mileage may vary.

Another criticism is that the curriculum tends to focus more on user interface design skills rather than more comprehensive UX skills that are user-focused as opposed to product-focused. But I think that’s because basic UI design skills are easier to teach, and it’s what employers generally expect, anyway, at the entry level.

I think these bootcamps are a great option for career switchers. They can be a good option for younger people with little or no professional experience, but these bootcamps will not teach you how to be a motivated professional, or how to be a good employee.

Mostly, I’m just jealous that these things exist now, because I came up the hard way. I was a self-taught designer and I had to grind and build my network for a few years before I got a contracting gig as part of a larger UX team where I finally began learning on the job from people who kindly showed me the ropes. Kids these days with their bootcamps and their bitcoin metaverse and their… get off my lawn, you whippersnappers!

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