When you’re first considering a career change, it may not be clear there are many ways to specialize in UX.
Many people get their start as a UX generalist, and then specialize later in their career.
Below are different UX career options to explore:
The job title “UX designer” is one of the most common, but probably the most varied in terms of the role and responsibilities.
To some, it means strictly designing wireframes, site maps, user flows, and other UX artifacts.
To some, it also includes strategy, visual design, development, content strategy, and/or research.
UX designer is often interchangeable with “information architect.”
UI/UX designers are typically very strong visual designers who can also complete the tasks of a UX designer.
UI/UX designers are sometimes called product designers, visual designers, or web designers.
Like UX designer, product owner also is a muddy job title. It means a lot of different things to different people.
To some, it means doing everything (or some of what) a UX designer does—plus is accountable for driving revenue or other business metrics.
Unlike UX designers and other UX roles, they are responsible for managing the product backlog—an ever-changing list of changes and additions to the product.
UX researchers can specialize in just qualitative research, just quantitative research, or just usability testing. Or they can be research generalists.
I consider myself a research generalist—as I conduct both qualitative and quantitative research, but I also conduct research that doesn’t involve talking to or observing people, such as competitive analyses, weak signal scanning, experience audits, etc.
UX researchers also can be called design researchers or usability analysts.
Content strategists determine what the content should be—and may or may not also be a writer.
Content strategists also often determine the metadata for each piece of content, so that it can be found in a search engine, navigation system, and re-used for different purposes (e.g., blog post, video, social media).
Some organizations are so massive, they have one or more “metadata librarians” who focus solely on creating, mapping, and managing metadata.
UX writers typically write the more straightfoward content you see—such as error messages, instructions, transactional information, and other “less glamorous” content that often falls through the cracks—but critical to the user experience.
UX strategists are sometimes UX generalists—doing a little bit of everything—or are strictly focused on big picture thinking and setting a vision for the user experience.
UX strategists are sometimes called UX specialists.
Accessibility specialists are in-house consultants. They’re responsible for auditing and reviewing interfaces to ensure that ALL people can understand the information and easily interact with the product to complete their tasks.
They also create documentation for designers, writers, and developers to follow as well as keep up with the latest accessibility standards (and laws).
Taxonomists are highly specialized in developing the right categorizations and labeling systems to ensure users are able to easily find the information they’re seeking. Their role may include creating and mapping metadata.
I’m seeing more and more foresight strategists on UX teams. This is a specialized role in UX (and business intelligence teams) that focuses on what’s next. They are constantly scanning the market—watching for macrotrends, microtrends, and weak signals—and forecasting the future.
Other Job Titles
Other roles that work closely with UX professionals include:
- UX manager / UX director
- Developer / engineer
- Project manager
- Business analyst
- Web analyst
- SEO manager / SEO copywriter
- E-mail marketing manager
- Digital marketing manager
- Web writer / content writer
- Interaction designer
- Video producer
- Market researchers
- CX team (various roles)
See also: Where UX teams work
Other Research Roles
If you’re interested in other types of research beyond design or UX research, here are some other career paths to consider:
- Market researcher
- Marketing researcher
- Data analyst
- Semiotics analyst