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How Do I Become a Usability Specialist?

Article Details
  • Written By: YaShekia King
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 19 September 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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A usability specialist is an individual who works to make sure technical products are relatively easy for customers to use. These products could include cell phones, computers, or even electronic medical devices. Usability specialists generally must complete at least four years of college training, although six years of training in this field might make an individual more attractive to employers.

If you would like to become a usability specialist, you can complete a bachelor’s degree in one of several related fields including business, computer science, or even human-computer interaction. Other potential areas of study are technical communication cognitive psychology, as well as human factor psychology. To get into these types of degree programs, you must have a high school diploma or the equivalent certification. Colleges additionally will require you to submit your transcript of past courses taken and provide a copy of your scores on previously taken standardized tests along with an application for admission before you can begin training to become a usability specialist.

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When striving to enter the usability industry, you should complete classes such as software engineering, which will teach you how to design, test, and maintain software. You also must study how to do computer programming for creating systems that computer users will purchase in addition to studying how computer networks operate best for clients. While in your program of study to become a usability specialist, you should understand what types of questions to ask of product users to help you make informed decisions regarding how to develop products that meet their needs.

Becoming a usability professional requires solid hands-on industry experience. While completing a usability specialist internship, you need to focus on assignments such as recruiting customers to use a potential product’s prototype and asking them questions regarding their product likes and dislikes. Prior to enlisting clients for their opinions, you must complete thorough research regarding similar products that already are on the market so that your company can develop a new product that exceeds the performance of existing products. Using your internship to hone your interpersonal communication skills and analytical skills will prepare you to become a usability specialist.

Completing a two-year master’s degree in usability or human-computer interaction, as well as networking with industry professionals will enhance your employment opportunities in the industry as well. A master’s degree program typically requires that you complete a research thesis project before you can graduate and become a usability specialist. While in your graduate school program, you should connect with employers in the field by attending industry conferences so that you have a few job prospects after earning your graduate degree.

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