What's in a name?

What’s in a Name? UX Job Titles Explained

This piece on UX job titles by Doug Collins, Editor, UXNewsMag.com

There are a myriad of UX job titles out there for our industry. This can sometimes cause issues deciphering what each of the UX job titles might entail.

To help on your career search, here are a few of the more common UX job titles you might see out there. Included are a short descriptions of what might be expected from each one.

UX Designer (or UX Architect)

Perhaps the most common of UX job titles, UX Designers are the most-common front-line UX professionals.

They are expected to have a solid understanding of UX design fundamentals. This includes pieces like forms best practices, data visualization techniques, rules of typography, and other user experience considerations, accessibility standards, visual design knowledge, human-computer interaction fundamentals, and research skills.

These are generalist roles most commonly. They require a wide range of UX skills – though not specialization in any particular field.

Commonly Requested Skills: UX fundamentals, design fundamentals, Adobe PhotoShop, Sketch, BaseCamp

Good Career Entry Point For: Graphic Designers, Advertising Professionals, Artists, General Professionals

UX Engineer

A UX Engineer is expected to have the same skills as a UX professional, but with coding and systems architecture chops to boot.

In many ways, a UX Engineer is a position that combines the skills of a Front End Developer and UX Designer. How these front end skills are used varies greatly from company to company.

Some employers will expect a UX Engineer to actually pitch in on creating the features they design, while other employers will simply ask the UX Engineer to use their skill set to understand what is and isn’t possible or practical given a company’s tech stack.

As far as UX job titles are concerned, this is less common than UX Designer, and may go by other names such as “Full Stack Developer” “End-to-End Developer” and others.

Commonly Requested Skills: UX fundamentals, design fundamentals, Adobe PhotoShop, Sketch, BaseCamp, HTML5, CSS, JavaScript, JS frameworks, APIs, etc.

Good Career Entry Point For: Front End Devs, Back End Devs, QA professionals, Software Engineers

UI/UX Developer

If there’s one fundamental problem with UX, it’s that many companies don’t fully understand what it is, especially in comparison to UI. That’s why you’ll see all sorts of diagrams and illustrations out there that explain what we do.

I stumbled across this (only somewhat helpful) diagram the other day:

The world of UX Design, now in Venn Diagram form!
The world of UX Design, now in Venn Diagram form!

A company that is looking for a UI/UX Developer is looking for someone who has great visual design skills and UX knowledge who can also provide the code for the project.

That’s essentially looking to get three jobs for the price of one, making this a difficult (and often underpaid) position.

This job title (and really any job title that implies UI/UX/development work at the same time) can be a red flag for a company that neither truly understands UX and its importance. It also could be an indicator of a lack of financial backbone to make an investment in enhancing the experience of their product.

Or they could just be really bad at putting a name on a UX job.

Commonly Requested Skills: Graphic Design, UI fundamentals, UX fundamentals, design fundamentals, Adobe PhotoShop, Sketch, BaseCamp

Good Career Entry Point For: Front End Developers, Back End Developers, QA professionals, Graphic Designers with a development grounding

UX Researcher

A UX Researcher deals with the data side of the equations. They must be good with conducting testing of all types, gathering data, and analyzing data from different qualitative and quantitative sources.

This job deals with using the data and evidence collected to ascertain pain points and areas for improvement.

This is usually a design-free job, meaning that a UX Researcher needs to be good with understanding and applying the core concepts of great user experiences without necessarily being fully capable of creating the designs from scratch. This makes the position an excellent “open door” for those coming from other data-driven professions.

Commonly Requested Skills: Business Intelligence, statistics, UX testing methedologies and procedures, SQL/MySQL/other database language, advanced Excel knowledge, customer service acumen, interpersonal communication

Good Career Entry Point For: Business Intelligence professionals, data-driven backgrounds

Lead UX Designer

A lead UX Designer is expected to not only be able and engaged in producing great designs, but also in leading a small team of about 3-5 designers.

This requires not only great design skills, but excellent communication, time management, and leadership acumen. Leads are often responsible for organizing work within a team, overseeing the day-to-day operations of the group, fielding questions from team members, and guiding overall design towards a standard vision.

Commonly Requested Skills: UX fundamentals, design fundamentals, Adobe PhotoShop, Sketch, BaseCamp, HTML5, CSS, JavaScript, JS frameworks, APIs, leadership, communication, Agile methedologies

Good Career Entry Point For: Not recommended for an entry point, but could possibly be a point of transition for a Design Manager or very experienced Graphic Designer with advanced UX knowledge

Sr. UX Designer

A Sr. UX Desinger performs some of the same design functions as a lead. They’ll answer questions from other team members, guide the group towards an overall design strategy, and help solve problems among the group.

They usually do not have any of the managerial components that a UX Lead does.

Commonly Requested Skills: UX fundamentals, design fundamentals, Adobe PhotoShop, Sketch, BaseCamp, HTML5, CSS, JavaScript, JS frameworks, APIs, communication

Good Career Entry Point For: Not an entry-level job. One would need at least a couple of years’ experience as a UX Designer/Engineer to be successful in this role.

UX Manager

A UX Manager is usually a step above a lead. They are more concerned with running of a group of UX teams, each of which has its own lead, as well as guiding overall design strategy.

UX knowledge is certainly needed here, but this job is more about the smooth running of a department within a company. They should be focused on the communication and strategy side of the business, rather than micromanaging the desingers in their charge.

Commonly Requested Skills: Leadership, communication, Rally/JIRA, BaseCamp, Sketch, Adobe PhotoShop, PowerPoint, budgeting, time management

Good Career Entry Point For: Not an entry-level job.


What do you think? What job titles are we missing? What skills would you add? Leave us a comment below!

READ MORE FROM DOUG COLLINS

Stepping Up Your Game: Updating Your UX Skills

Why UX Accessibility Design Should be a Top Priority

How to Survive as Your Company’s Solo UXer

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