I tend to call myself a UI/UX designer - though I'm lacking in practicing a lot of what it means to be a UX designer. However, I'm very well read on the subject, and I insist on continuing to call myself that because I refuse to simply be a visual designer (which is, unfortunately, what I am currently - but only because UX designer isn't really a thing at Match).
It's important to me that my work isn't surface level visual design, and that critical aspects of the experience aren't being dictated to me by people in business suits with no concept of their users. I don't have the opportunity to do hands on research and testing, but there is testing and data available to me - and I utilize that along with my understanding of web patterns and psychology as it applies to the use of digital products in my work. Hopefully I'll have more opportunities to practice proper UX - because I can't stand watching things be done incorrectly, and UX is the key to doing things correctly.
Curious, what does the "visual design" role entail for you now -- are you involved in interaction design work like putting together wireframes, user flows, etc.?
It uh... well entails visual design. Haha. But I do unsolicited UX design and am a huge pain in the ass to all the Product Managers who more or less do UX tasks such as low-fi mocks (in place of wires), site flows (not true user journeys, but maps of the general methods of possible interaction) and running/analyzing A/B tests.
My previous job was at a much smaller company where I had the opportunity to wear more hats. The company had no concept of UX, so it was very DIY and not something that was requested - but something I did to the best of my ability.
I'm strongly considering taking your UX courses, by the way. I'm just trying to convince myself to part with the money. However, I think everything about your courses falls into a sweet spot for me. Good price point, working directly with mentors (and with impressive backgrounds from what I've seen), and a reasonable time investment.
That's a fantastic way to break the concept down. I don't think many people realize the opportunity for research and data isn't available for one reason or another. Organization just have different agendas it's not always possible to sell the benefits but that doesn't mean we can't apply what we read about and gather doing own own form of research to make educated decisions.