What Does It Take to Become a UX Researcher?

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Are you a marketing, cognitive science, psychology, economics, or information science major struggling to figure out what you want to do?  Maybe UX Research might be a fit.  With a projected 19% increase in demand, UX Researchers are highly in-demand.

Why? What do all businesses have in common?  Users and customers.

Most businesses don’t just guess what their customer/user wants.  They used dedicated methods to determine this and then design their products and services accordingly.

This is what User Experience Research entails.  A 2017 user research report showed that 81% of executives agreed that user research makes their company more efficient and 86% believed that user research improved the quality of their products and services.

So, what does a User Experience (UX) Researcher do?  They focus on understanding user behaviors, needs, and motivations through observation techniques like face-to-face interviews, user surveys, card sorting, usability tests, as well as many other methodologies.

Companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Netflix will never release a product without first making sure that users will love it.  They leverage their UX Research team in the design process so they don’t build something no one wants to use.

So, what skills does it take to land a job as a UX Researcher? Employers look to hire a range of individuals but having some of the key hard and soft skills listed below will increase your hireability.

Hard Skills
Like any other job, the #1 way to build skills is through internship experience. An opportunity to partake in a UX Research internship program will give you the hands-on experience and knowledge you’ll need to best prepare yourself for a career in this path. However, you can still be proactive and start learning the skills and tools needed to thrive in this role without industry experience, which can then, in turn, help you land an internship.

As an aspiring UX Researcher, you should be familiar with an array of qualitative and quantitative research methods such as interviews, surveys, ideation sessions, ethnographic field research, and diary studies. Start by learning the strengths and limitations of each method, as well as how and when to implement each type of research.

Once you understand how to collect data, you will want to learn how to interpret and analyze your findings. Some of the top computer software programs used in this field include Dscout, Miro, HotJar, and Axure. Having a basic understanding of how these tools work will give you a leg up in a pool of competitive applicants.

The hard skill at the heart of UX Research, however, is cognitive and behavioral awareness of the consumer. A UX Researcher needs to be able to get into the mind of the consumer and come up with creative yet realistic solutions to the given problem or inconvenience. This is a skill acquired over time, but taking classes related to psychology will help you gain an understanding of the inner workings of the human brain and how you can produce the best product or service.

Soft Skills
A career as a UX Researcher relies heavily on connecting, empathizing, and working with others. These key skills are hard to measure and cannot always be taught in the workplace, and the strength of these interpersonal skills often depends more on who you are as an individual.

Someone in this role must be good at observing others and understanding when someone may need help. They have to think creatively to solve these problems and have the ability to direct a group of people to understand what must be done to better a company and their product/services.

How PathMatch Can Help
These are just a few of the tools and skills that companies look for in UX Researchers. We know finding the perfect career path can be hard, but PathMatch is here to help you navigate through it. We’ve helped tons of students figure out their path and give them the support to plan their careers and achieve their goals. To learn more about jumpstarting your future, check out our flexible plans.

Want all this help on becoming an UX Researcher to fit in your pocket for on-the-go resources? Download our PathMatch app today! 

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