start a design career in tech

How to Start a Design Career in Tech (hint: no coding needed)

One student was in her late 50's and didn't know how to use the copy-paste function. She went through their intro course and before long was a designer.

Joel Bein
Joel Bein

Maca had a dream job, but she started to hate it.

She was a mechanical engineer at Boeing, but she started to feel sad and desiring a fresh start.

She called her mom to talk it over. Within a week, she had quit and was starting from scratch.

She then dived into YouTube videos (e.g. "YouTube University") and learned everything she could about UX/UI! At the same time, she cold-emailed businesses asking if she could do projects for them, and from there, starting building a portfolio.

It all started with her initiative.

After launching her career and working for a few years, she was inspired to found Avocademy, as a way to give a concrete way for others to embrace the "learn by doing" approach that also includes structured support and mentorship.

But let's define our terms. What exactly is UX/UI design?

What is UX/UI?

Let's be clear: UX/UI is not coding. It's designing!

It's true that designers work closely with developers, but UX/UI is a way to break into tech without doing the tech.

In short: UI (User-Interface) is how a UX (User-Experience) is how it's gonna work.

"Any app that we use on our phone, people understand that it's coded. Before that happens, someone needs to design it. Someone needs to decide what it's gonna look like (UI), and how it's gonna work (UX). In UX/UI design, you work with a developer. They build what you design."

Related: The Career Hackers Guide to Design

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Can You Break into Tech and UX/UI with No Experience?

Yeah yeah, totally! Avocademy students aren't graphic designers who are getting trained in UX/UI - they come from all backgrounds and ages.

One student was in her late 50's and didn't know how to use the copy-paste function on a computer. She went through their Foundations Course and before long was designing strains in Figma and prototypes in InVision. "I get goosebumps thinking about how she went from learning copy-paste to finishing our course," Maca said.

"We're taking teachers, hairdressers, caretakers - all the people with completely different backgrounds who just put in the work," she said. Bottom line? If you choose to engage your natural curiosity and creativity, you can learn anything you want!

Related: How to launch your career with a 365-Day Design Challenge

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What does the Avocademy experience look like?

The Avocademy Foundations Course will give you the basics of UX/UI at a super affordable investment. While other programs may ask you to pay a large amount upfront and fully commit, with Foundation you don't decide if you're going to make a huge career change. You can just get a feel for it!

On average, you'll spend a couple hours a day (self-paced) over 8 weeks.

From there, you have the option to dive into the Career Jumpstart program, where you'll do real client projects. "We've actually created a studio where we find clients, startups, and nonprofits, and then we put 4-6 designers to support you in actually working on month-long projects."

Building those projects builds that portfolio, which sets you up for the job hunt, for which Avocademy also gives you ongoing support for 6 months (though you probably won't need that long, if you send a video pitch to the company!).

Get Unstuck and Play with Possibility


If you're feeling that drudgery of your current job or career, it's time to get unstuck, just like Maca did by listening to her gut feeling about her old career.

Starting to get unstuck can just mean a little tiny action, a little baby step. A small step now can have a huge effect on your trajectory.

That could just mean tinkering with ideas and playing with possibilities. Take a walk and daydream about what you might want to do - no need to be practical! Then go do some tests, go create a project, or go reach out to someone in a new industry.

If you're curious about design, you could learn more in the short webinar by Avocademy, "3 Great Reasons to Become a UX/UI Designer." Learn more.

You got this!

Learn Out Loud

Joel Bein

Joel Bein is CEO at Career Hackers and passionate about personal growth and self-driven learning. As a classically trained musician, he is Founder of the New Orleans Chamber Players.