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What’s The Best Way To Train User Experience Professionals?



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What’s the best way to get knowledge and skills to be a user experience professional? Can you learn it all on the job? Is there a role for education and classes? If there is, what kind of classes?

Should you try and get a college degree? (There are very few undergraduate schools, that actually have a degree in user experience. Some have some classes, and maybe a concentration, but few have a degree. Should you get an undergraduate degree in something else — anything related — and then get a master’s in HCI (Human-Computer Interaction).

What about short courses? Should you take a week or two of training from a vendor? Or take some online training classes?

I’ve been thinking about this question for many years. I’ve offered “industry training” (i.e., a week-long class), and I’ve offered mentoring programs. I recently taught a semester long class as an Adjunct Professor at University of Wisconsin. And the Weinschenk Institute has online video courses you can take to learn about user experience and user-centered-design topics.

So when my colleague Jim Jacoby (founder of Manifest Digital in Chicago) told me the other day that his new venture was The School for Digital Craftsmanship, I asked him to tell me more. And then after he told me about the user experience/user-centered design “school” he has started, I suggested we do a podcast interview about it.

Below you will find the 23 minute podcast interview.

You can listen to the podcast by clicking on this link

Here are some of the topics we cover:

  • How a shortage of user experience/user-centered design professionals in his agency led him to start the School for Digital Craftsmanship
  • The idea of a “trade” school education for the field, that combines classroom study with practical experience
  • The first flagship courses that start this July (2013). They are 10 weeks long and meet a few nights a week, starting in Chicago and St. Louis.
  • What the application process is like, and what the experience will be like to attend.

As of this writing there are 12 spots still open for the classes starting in July, so if you are interested go to the School’s website: for more information.

What do you think? What’s the best way for people to get the education they need to do UX/UCD work?


2 responses to “What’s The Best Way To Train User Experience Professionals?”

  1. Amy Marquez Avatar

    There are so many disciplines that feed into UX that I don’t think there’s just one right way to teach or to learn. What I’ve found works well as far as on-the-job training is mentoring. And not just one mentor with one “mentee”, but rather several mentors for the one learning. For example, in the breadth of UX design, my depths are visual and interaction design, as well as UX planning (research, strategy, personas, etc.). I know I’m not great at IA. So when I mentor someone, I make sure she has mentors to cover a wide variety of topics.

  2. Jim Jacoby Avatar

    amy, completely agree. it’s a great point. our longer-term goal will be to flesh out a matrix of skills that runs the breadth you allude to and begins to inventory the depth in each ‘track’. in this way, we hope to begin to establish a language of skills and concentration so that we can better communicate with one another in the field as well as our employers. would love to stay in touch as this begins to form up to get your opinion along the way.

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