How much can UX designers earn? That’s a crucial question if you’re thinking of getting into UX (i.e., user experience design). An excellent UX designer can help elevate a product to best-in-class, but they’ll also need to convince executives and managers that their skills are truly invaluable.
First, some additional exposition: Although you sometimes see the terms “UI” and “UX” used interchangeably, they’re actually very different. In a software context, UI is what the user sees on a screen: the icons, text, colors, backgrounds, and any moving elements (such as animations). UX, on the other hand, is how the user moves through all those UI elements. UX designers spend a lot of their time thinking about how users “flow” through a product, as well as how much friction they experience while trying to reach a particular goal.
Job-wise, UX designers don’t work in a vacuum. They spend a lot of time talking to team members (such as engineers and UI designers), and they often carve out time in their schedule to engage with the product’s current or future users. As a result of these interactions, they create prototypes that they submit for review and notes. In other words, this is a position that requires “soft skills” such as empathy and communication.
As for technical skills, here’s what pops up most often in UX designer job postings for the position, according to Burning Glass, which collects and analyzes millions of job postings from across the country. As you might expect, UI designers use virtually the same tools and programming languages:
(Burning Glass defines distinguishing skills as advanced skills that truly differentiate candidates applying for various roles. Defining skills are the skills needed for day-to-day tasks in many roles, while necessary skills are the lowest barrier to entry.)
What is a UX designer’s starting salary?
With zero to two years of experience, a UX designer’s salary can range anywhere from $66,000 to $102,000, according to Burning Glass. That’s an exceptionally wide range determined by several factors, including (but certainly not limited to) your portfolio and the projects you’ve worked on, the company you’re working for, and whether you have other skills (such as programming) that can make you a more valuable, cross-disciplinary employee.
What is a UX designer’s median salary?
The median salary for a UX designer is $98,485.
What do UX designers make in comparison to other tech professions?
The most recent Dice Salary Report pegs the average technology salary at $94,000 in 2019, a 1.3 percent increase from 2018. Software developers at top companies such as Apple and Google can easily earn more than $150,000 per year, once you factor in bonuses, stock options, and other kinds of compensation.
UX designers with lots of experience and a solid portfolio can land a salary competitive with those numbers. For example, Burning Glass suggests that UX designers in the 90th percentile for compensation can make $128,115 per year, on average. Those kind of numbers, though, generally come after a decade or more of working.
Are UX designers in demand?
According to Burning Glass, the average time to fill an open position is 36 days, roughly similar to many other technology jobs. It’s a lengthy-enough timespan to suggest a pretty high level of demand for UX designers; for jobs with lots of open candidates and relatively few open jobs, time-to-fill is often much shorter.
Is UX designer a dying career?
Burning Glass also predicts that UX designer jobs will grow 14.9 percent over the next 10 years, so it’s not a dying profession by any stretch of the imagination. After all it’s not like businesses are going to stop designing, building, and releasing products—and as long as that cycle continues, they’ll need UX designers to create a seamless experience for users.
Want to know what you can do to maximize your salary? How about acquiring more UX designer training to expand your skillset and get paid what you’re truly worth.