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Certified Usability Analyst: Salary, Career & Exam Prep.

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A Certified Usability Analyst is a designer and developer who wants to showcase his expertise in user-centered design. The CUA examines usability for data collection, task analysis and identifying usability issues and proposing design solutions.

Usability specialists should obtain certifications since they show a degree of knowledge that potential employers may value. This is particularly true if the credentials come from respected institutions or organizations. When looking for new work prospects, certifications can also offer credibility and recognition. Potential employers frequently view them positively and they can aid in differentiating one candidate from another. Additionally, qualifications demonstrate expertise and understanding in the industry, which is a vital tool for any usability expert.

This article’s goal is to examine, justify, and discuss the importance of the top certifications for Usability Specialists and how they might assist such professionals develop their careers.

What are Usability Specialist Certifications?

Professionals who design, create, and manage user experiences may prove their knowledge and abilities by earning a usability specialist certification, which is an industry-recognized credential. Many organizations, like the Human Factors International (HFI) and Usability Professionals’ Association (UPA), provide this qualification. The certification program covers a variety of subjects, including information architecture, graphic design concepts, usability testing methodologies, and more.

Certification as a usability specialist may make professionals stand out on the job market and show their knowledge of the subject. Additionally, it acts as evidence of expertise and experience for employers. Additionally, it aids people in keeping abreast of current advancements in the field of usability engineering, which may be advantageous for their professional progress.

Those who possess a certification are also qualified for private networking events with other certified professionals. These relationships may result in new employment prospects or project partnerships. Finally, obtaining this accreditation demonstrates a dedication to the field and enhances trust with clients and coworkers.

Pro Tip: Before seeking certification as a usability specialist, be sure to explore the many certifications offered and choose the one that best suits your needs. Read up on each certification’s requirements before applying because they could change based on the provider organization. You should also research any extra materials or training programs that could be necessary to earn the certification.

Basic Requirements

You must pass the CUA online test ($ 750) for the Certified Usability Analyst. The test is two and a half hours long and given several times a year.

Here are four related training courses for Certified Usability Analysts, but not required. Training courses range from $ 1,345 to $ 1,645 per person. If you want to complete the training courses, the exam fee is $ 175 instead of 750.


Average Salary: Certified Usability Analyst (CUA) earns over $ 99 thousand


This information for the Certified Usability Analyst is based on 265 survey responses.

Experienced: 42.6%
Mid-career: 21.9%
Early career: 18.9%
Late career: 15.5%
Primary level: 1.1%

Exam and Preparation for a Certified Usability Analyst

(This portion is prepared based on an examinee who successfully appeared in the Certified Usability Analyst exam)

If you are just starting out your UX career, planning to switch to UX, or want to demonstrate proficiency in your organization’s UX policies, a CUA certificate is all you need.

The course is for 10 days with weekly holidays, and after the completion of the 10-day course, the exam is taken on the 2nd day (so basically, the exam is held on the 14th day). Will be Coming to the exam section, this is an open-book exam with multiple-choice questions. There is only 1 answer to each question. There are 4 sections in the test that need to be answered one section at a time. The passing number is 70 (which makes the test extremely challenging) but there is no passing mark by any category (FO!). This means you can get fewer numbers in 1 category and more numbers in other categories. Bottom line – you need a total of 70 numbers. It’s over here.

Although it is an open-book test, this test is not as easy as it seems. We have written a ton of tests in our lives and none of them were open-book exams therefore the method and technique of the study need to be drastically changed to crack this test. But don’t worry, I’m here to rescue you.

Regardless of your experience/knowledge of UX design, you need to have this continuous 14 days. This is the most important part of the process. The purpose is not to remember, but to always remember it! That doesn’t mean you don’t have to focus on WHAT memories, but you do need to put a ton of focus on the WHOE aspect of remembering. Now, let’s see what I mean by that.
Everything you need to do in class.

The course consists of 4 main topics that different teachers will teach. Now, based on your experience and knowledge of UX design, even based on the type of teacher teaching, some topics will be interesting and some will draw you to class. But that’s right.

You will find 1 original textbook for each topic and these are basically screenshots of presentation slides. So, it will not be like any novel or regular textbook. Please remember one thing. These books are like your Bible!

Make sure you always listen to the teacher so that you are in the right place and do not hold back. If you do not understand what he is saying then it does not matter, but try to understand. During breaks, you can always ask him or your neighbors. Now all you need to do is capture your brain and store it in your memory even if you do not understand it. When you return home for a second study, you will be able to appreciate it. But if you do not store it in your memory, as the environment changes and your brain focuses on other things, you may not be able to remember it even when you return home. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it becomes difficult to understand and remember.

Certified Usability Analyst

Most of the test questions are situation-based and very few (about 25-30%) answer very technical and fast. So, the key to answering both these types of questions is keywords. All you have to do is highlight keywords or rotate them very individually so that when you randomly open a page, the keywords are what you first see. Now how does this help? Well, your brain needs to register these keywords and the more you modify, the stronger your brain will be knowing where this keyword was, helping you to quickly navigate around the book to find the answer to the question.

What do you need to do after returning home from class?

The first thing you need to do is dedicate at least 1 hour to correcting what was done that day. 1 hour should be good enough but it can increase depending on your speed and understanding. Start reading at least one of the things you see on each page so that your brain knows it without even realizing it. To give a real-world example, I’m pretty sure you’ve seen someone at a mall, street, wedding, ceremony, etc., and you know who he knows but you’re not sure of their name. Or you could know their names but didn’t know where you met them. You should check your contacts, WhatsApp or Facebook right away to find out who that person is. Use the same concept in experiments. You know where the answer lies, but you do not know what the answer is.

There is a good probability that the technical questions consist of people’s names, numbers, percentages, names of laws, names of the theory, etc. It will not be asked in the exam but there is also a mark. Here is what you need to do for this technical question. Type them in Word or Excel and make sure you have them sorted alphabetically based on keywords. The keyword can be the name of the law, the type of person, the situation/scenario, or what the number represents. Do this every day and keep the list updated.

The other thing was I was making summary notes. The abstract notes are basically one-liners about what each slide is. Make sure you highlight the keywords again. I made my short notes only for slides that seemed new and important to me. I didn’t create notes for each slide. You can follow the same but this is your choice.

The questions are going to be framed in such a way that you have to dig a lot and find the sentence that gets the answer unless the answer is very complicated.

During the exam, you will be allowed to refer to your summary notes and technical notes made with 4 textbooks.

What do you need to do on weekends (holidays)?

All you need to do is just read your short notes, read the Word/excel document that has the technical parts, and read the textbook as a simple novel. Modifying will not only help you remember WHERE but remember WHAT. The more you modify, the more your keywords are written with keywords and the more powerful your brain is at creating virtual books. Most of the time, you can think of the location of keywords or the amount of text in that slide, based on the relevant image on that slide.

These 2 days are for complete correction. Spend time with no hassle and then feel free to do whatever you want. I recommend fixing it once in the morning and once in the night.

In addition to the textbook, you will also be given a workbook that I have not been able to use at all. However, at the end of the workbook, there is a glossary of all the definitions of UX terms. Make sure you go through it at least 2 times in 2 days. While these may not help you with the test, there is a possibility that they can select some of them and create a situation-based question.

What do you need to do on the day before the exam and the day of the exam?

Make sure you get summary notes, textbooks, and technical notes in two days. But be sure to read them slowly so that your brain can capture keywords and remember the location of keywords.

Focus on remembering what is and what is not, because even if you have a fair idea of ​​what the idea is, you will not have time to think about the meaning of your ideas.

The last thing you need to do is to go through the acronym Definition of UX Terms.

Be sure to carry 4 workbooks, 1 workbook containing a glossary, summary notes, and technical notes. The reason I say this is because on the day of the test, I forgot my notes at home. But to my surprise, I didn’t even really need them. I only used 4 textbooks to answer all the questions.

See sample questions provided by HFI. Unfortunately, there are only 6 questions. I checked the whole internet for more questions but was not able to find any more. These 6 questions are fairly simple but do not expect such simple questions in the exam.

Oops! One last thing, on the day of the exam, when you start studying in the morning, drop your phone. From the time you get up until the end of the exam, you need to be fully focused on the exam.

What do you need to do during the exam?

Let’s give you a breakdown of how the test is set up. As I said before, you have 100 questions, 4 sections, and 3 hours. The best part is that there is no deadline for the sections and there is no pass mark for any of the sections. However, you must finish a section before moving on to the next section. This reduces a lot of stress because you only have to search from 1 book and not from all 4 books.

Time Management – You should have 180 minutes (3 hours) with you and answer 100 questions, which gives you 1.8 minutes (108 seconds) per question. Each section that facilitates the exam in the room will tell you how many questions. All you have to do is take a piece of paper and multiply the number of questions in each section by 1.8 minutes. With this number, you will be able to set a time limit for each category. Do your best not to exceed this deadline but most of the time it happens and that’s fine

You will have the option to flag questions in a section so you can check them out later. So what I did was just put 5-7 minutes in each section to just go back to these flagged questions and double-check the answer. I ended up flagging a ton of questions and changing the answers to about 10 questions. It really made a difference because if I hadn’t done it I would have failed since I got the failed 76.

Certified Usability Analyst

When answering a question, make sure you are 100% accurate, not 99%, not 98%. Why so? This is because most of the query options are really, really close and similar. You have to be accurate with the answer. You need to forget about the knowledge you gained in your job, your experience, and what you learned in college. This is a completely different game. Either flag your question or go fast and verify your answer in the book or do both. Don’t worry about the page you are noisy when searching for the answer, believe me, you will not be the only one.

The biggest mistake people make is to not read the question correctly. Make sure you read it slowly and patiently. I have read two questions many times, even though I know what I was asking the question to be on the safe side. I know it is a waste of time, but it is worth it.

Many questions are long but there are a few questions that take 5 seconds to answer because they will be extremely easy and straightforward.

Here’s a great tip. Let’s say you put 35 minutes aside for a section and 10 minutes for the flagging question. So, in the end, you set aside 25 minutes to answer this section’s question. Assuming you take only 20 minutes to answer all the questions and 8 minutes to review the flagged questions, you now have 7 minutes free (35-20-8). Don’t go to the next section, use the minute to revisit the section. You can ask questions again in the section even if you have not flagged them. But make sure you do not exceed 35 minutes. I’m sure you’ll change the answer to at least 1 question.
Make sure you drink water every 15 minutes to keep you hydrated and give your brain some energy. You can also use the restroom during the test. During the test, I used the restroom 4 times. I told you, I’m under pressure

What you should not do in the exam !!!

So now, you know everything there is to do to appear for a Certified Usability Analyst exam. It’s time to say what you shouldn’t do.

Don’t use a ton of sticky notes! I didn’t even use a sticky note to study. Why? These are not easily accessible during testing. You need to be good with them or else you will tear them down. You will not be able to write it in a very small form unless you have written it in a very small way which is basically the reason for the test, but it is not time to read it fast. Would you like to mention a bunch of sticky notes or a few pieces of paper throughout your book? Your pick

Do not assume that you will have time to ask your neighbors questions because I believe it will be like a fish market there. People are sweating, turning pages, drinking water, and clicking mouse clicks. You won’t even have time to turn away for a minute. But yes, if you have to use the restroom, please do.

When creating a note, do not create long paragraphs. You will not have the patience to read all of them even after correction because you will assume that you know it and do not need to read it again.

Do not use any concept examples to answer the question to be a Certified Usability Analyst. Examples are simply to understand your idea, not to remember the concept name. Don’t use examples as keywords.

Top ten certifications for usability specialists

Here is our ranking of the top credentials now offered to usability specialists.

1. Professional Diploma in User Experience Design from Interaction Design Foundation (IDF PDUXD Certificate)

The Interaction Design Foundation (IDF) offers a thorough online program called the Professional Diploma in User Experience Design (PDUXD), which is aimed at giving professionals the information and abilities they need to succeed as user experience designers. The course delves deeply into the fundamentals of UX design, including subjects like user research, usability testing, information architecture, interface design, prototyping, and more.

If you are a full-time student, it will take you around 8 weeks to finish the PDUXD Certificate. There are 8 courses in total, and they all deal with UX design. Each course lasts around a week to complete and consists of homework, readings, and video lectures.

You must sign up for the program on the IDF website, pay the cost, and then finish all 8 courses within 8 weeks to receive the PDUXD Certificate. In order to get your certificate at the conclusion of the program, you must also turn in your final project.

The PDUXD Certificate costs €995 (about $1,200). All course materials, exams, and teacher comments are included in this cost. Additionally, you receive a one-year subscription to the International Development Forum (IDF), which entitles you to extra resources including webinars, forums, and discounts on other IDF programs.

2. International Standards Organization 9241-11 Human-Centered Design for Interactive Systems

An international standard known as ISO 9241-11, Human-Centered Design for Interactive Systems, offers rules and suggestions for creating user interfaces that are simple to use, efficient, and rewarding. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) created it in 1998, and it was updated in 2008.

The interaction between users and interactive systems, such as computers, mobile phones, game consoles, etc., is the topic of ISO 9241-11. It covers a variety of subjects, including user interface design ideas, usability standards, design processes, and assessment techniques. The standard also contains recommendations for ensuring that users enjoy using interactive systems.

The procedure of becoming certified to ISO 9241-11 is not time-consuming; nonetheless, enterprises must first go through an evaluation and verification process. Processes and methods for user interface design inside an organization are often audited to make sure they comply with ISO 9241-11 criteria. The organization can then seek certification from a recognized certifying authority after being evaluated and confirmed to fulfill these standards.

The price to become certified to ISO 9241-11 will vary according to the organization’s size and other aspects, such as how complicated its user interface design procedures are. In general, the price ranges from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars or more.

3. Certified Usability Analyst (CUA)

A professional certification that certifies a person’s knowledge and abilities in usability engineering is called Certified Usability Analyst (CUA). It is intended to assist professionals in showcasing their capacity to find, examine, and fix usability issues in software systems.

The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES) offers the CUA credential. Individuals must pass a test given by HFES in order to be certified. Topics including user-centered design concepts, usability testing procedures, and usability analysis approaches are covered in the exam.

To be prepared for the exam, it normally requires four to six months of preparation. Individuals should reread the HFES course materials or enroll in a course from a recognized provider during this period. Additionally, they want to rehearse with sample questions or take a mock exam.

Where you take the exam will affect the cost of the CUA certification. The application fee and test fee together often cost between $500 and $700 USD.

4. User Experience Design Essentials Certificate from Interaction Design Foundation (IDF UXD Certificate)

The Interaction Design Foundation’s User Experience Design Essentials Certificate (IDF UXD Certificate) is a professional certificate program created to assist people in gaining the abilities and expertise required to become successful in user experience design. Each of the four courses in the program—Usability and User Research, Visual Design, Interaction Design, and Information Architecture—concentrates on a distinct facet of UX design. The duration of the curriculum is around six months.

Students must first register for the course online at the IDF website in order to receive the IDF UXD Certificate. Students who join will have access to all four courses, which are taught online via video lectures and interactive exercises. In order to earn their certificate after finishing each course, students must also turn in assignments.

For a one-year subscription, the IDF UXD Certificate costs $399 USD, or $599 USD for a lifetime membership. All four courses are fully accessible, as well as any supplementary IDF resources like templates, ebooks, and other things.

5. Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Certification Program in Human-Systems Integration (HSI CP)

A professional certification program called the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Certification Program in Human-Systems Integration (HSI CP) was created to honor those who have attained a high degree of proficiency in the field of human-systems integration. Employers, clients, and coworkers may be certain that certified employees have the knowledge and abilities needed to effectively design, build, and evaluate systems from a human-centered viewpoint thanks to the curriculum.

A practical test that is conducted on-site complements the online evaluation in the HSI CP. An individual’s understanding of the concepts and practices of human-system integration will be evaluated through an online test. In order to pass the onsite practical exam, candidates must successfully complete four activities that are relevant to the design, development, and assessment of a system.

A person normally needs three months or longer to finish both HSI CP components. Candidates are required to study diligently both for the onsite practical test and the online evaluation during this period.

Individuals must first register on the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society website in order to begin the HSI CP procedure. Following registration, candidates will have access to study materials that can help them get ready for both parts of the certification program. In addition, candidates must pay a fee before taking either HSI CP component. As of 2021, the cost of taking both components is $1,000 USD.

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6. User Experience Certification from Nielsen Norman Group (NN/g UX Certification)

The Nielsen Norman Group (NN/g) offers an online certification program called the NN/g UX Certification. Its goal is to aid professionals in developing a thorough grasp of user experience (UX) design and research. Usability, accessibility, information architecture, user interface design, and other issues are covered in detail in the program’s thorough review of UX design.

Three courses make up the certification: User Interface Design Principles, Introduction to UX Design, and User Research Methods. Self-paced and takes about 20 hours to complete the courses. Participants who successfully complete all three courses will be awarded a certificate from the Nielsen Norman Group.

Participants must first sign up for the program on the NN/g website in order to receive the NN/g UX Certification. Participants will get access to the course materials and be able to start their study after registration is complete. The NN/g website will allow participants to get their certificate once all three courses have been satisfactorily completed.

The NN/g UX Certification program is priced at $499 USD. This cost includes enrollment in all three courses as well as a certificate of completion.

7. Certified Human Factors Professional (CHFP)

The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES) offers a professional certification called Certified Human Factors Professional (CHFP). It is intended to honor those who have proven to be highly knowledgeable in the field of human factors and ergonomics. The CHFP certification is meant to show that a person has acquired knowledge and expertise at a level that satisfies or surpasses the criteria established by HFES.

An individual must fulfill a number of requirements in order to become certified as a CHFP, including having at least three years of professional experience in the field of human factors/ergonomics, finishing at least 45 hours of continuing education, and passing a thorough exam given by HFES.

From beginning to end, the certification procedure to become a CHFP normally takes one year. Candidates must finish all criteria during this time, which includes submitting their application documents, sitting for and passing the exam, and paying all necessary costs. For HFES members and non-members, obtaining certified as a CHFP costs $450 USD and $650 USD, respectively.

8. Human Factors International Certified Usability Analyst (HFICA)

A certification program called Human Factors International Certified Usability Analyst (HFICA) is intended to honor experts in usability and user experience design. The Human Factors International Usability Body of Knowledge, which covers subjects including user-centered design, usability testing, and accessibility, is the foundation of the HFICA certification program.

The HFICA certification procedure normally takes three months to complete. A written test, an oral exam, and an online application make up the procedure. The multiple-choice questions on the written test cover subjects including user research techniques, usability concepts, and accessibility standards. A sequence of questions pertaining to the subjects covered in the written test makes up the oral exam.

You must first submit an online application with information about your education and employment history in order to be eligible for the HFICA certification. You will receive an invitation to sit for the written and oral tests after your application is accepted. Your HFICA certificate will be given to you if you pass both tests.

Depending on where you live, getting the HFICA certification will cost you between $1,000 and $2,000 USD.

9. Certified Professional Ergonomist (CPE)

A practitioner who has received training and certification in the subject of ergonomics is known as a Certified Practitioner Ergonomist (CPE). Designing and setting up a workspace, a product, or a system to fit the user is known as ergonomics. This science takes into account the user’s strengths and limits in order to develop a space that is both pleasant and effective. CPEs are specialists in fields such as industrial engineering, safety engineering, biomechanics, anthropometrics, physiology, psychology, and human factors engineering.

A bachelor’s degree in ergonomics or a closely related discipline from an authorized college or university is the minimum requirement for becoming a CPE. Additionally, they must have five years or more of professional experience in ergonomics or a closely related discipline. They must pass a test given by the Board of Certification in Professional Ergonomics (BCPE) after fulfilling these prerequisites. The test is divided into two sections: a written section and a practical section.

Depending on when the exam is taken, the fee varies, however, it normally falls between $400 and $600 USD. Depending on how much prior knowledge you have in ergonomics, it typically takes 3–4 months to study for the exam. After passing the test, you will receive official CPE certification.

10. Certified Usability Professional (CUP)

The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES) offers a professional certification called Certified Usability Professional (CUP). It is intended to honor experts who have proven proficiency in the fields of user experience design and usability engineering. The CUP certification is a widely respected accreditation that shows a dedication to the industry and gives proof of knowledge and abilities pertaining to user experience design.

Preparation for the CUP test normally requires two years of study and practice. Reading books, participating in workshops, taking courses, and performing practical work in the area are all part of preparation. Candidates must also fulfill a number of educational prerequisites, such as possessing a bachelor’s degree or higher in a related discipline.

Candidates must take and pass the CUP test offered by HFES in order to become certified. The examination comprises of multiple-choice questions on subjects including usability engineering concepts, guidelines for designing user interfaces, approaches for conducting user research, usability testing, accessibility standards, and more.

Depending on where you live, the CUP certification costs different amounts. Members of HFES or other organizations that provide reductions on the test price often pay $500 to $1,000 USD.

Final thought

Your professional objectives will determine whether you require a usability specialist credential or not. If you wish to develop a particular degree of knowledge in the subject of usability engineering, a usability specialist certificate may be helpful. Additionally, since companies could be more inclined to hire someone with this kind of qualification, it might provide you with a competitive edge on the job market.

It’s crucial to remember, though, that success in this industry is not guaranteed by holding a usability specialist credential. Having the appropriate knowledge and abilities for the job is still essential. It is ultimately up to you to establish that you possess such attributes through experience and education, even though the certificate may assist in doing so.

Without a formal credential, there are more methods to become an authority in usability engineering. You might take classes or even conduct independent research on the topic. For further hands-on experience and to broaden your knowledge, you might also look into volunteer or internship opportunities in the field of usability engineering.

Ultimately, your personal objectives and the type of job path you want to pursue will determine whether or not you need a usability expert credential. It could be worthwhile to pursue this option if getting the certification seems like it would help you achieve your goals more quickly than other options.

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