Product designers have one of the highest-pressure jobs in tech. They must identify what users want, and then use a variety of tools and design skills to fulfill those desires. When they succeed, customers love the product—is there any company that ever profited more from good design than Apple? But if they fail, it can sink a website or product line.
In light of that, many tech companies are willing to pay product designers generous salaries. At top companies such as Google and Meta (er, Facebook), for example, higher-level product managers can make close to a half million dollars per year in total compensation, according to levels.fyi, which crowdsources its compensation data.
Not every company can afford to pay their product designers that much, of course. However, it’s instructive to look at the average and median compensation for product designers in various metro areas—if you live in one of those places, it’ll give you an idea of the kind of salary you can expect to earn, especially if you have the right skills and experience. Blind, which surveys anonymous technologists on a range of issues, recently broke down the top metro areas in the country for product designers, by salary and compensation; here’s the chart:
Blind’s core list is much longer, so check it out if you’re curious where your town landed. Blind previously ran top-compensation-cities studies with software engineers and data scientists, obtaining similar results to this chart. And as we’ve stated before, there’s a simple reason for that: Cities such as Menlo Park, Los Gatos, Seattle, and Cupertino are home to some of the biggest tech companies in the world, all of which are willing to pay extraordinary salaries for extraordinary talent. Los Gatos keeps topping these lists, for instance, because Netflix, which is headquartered there, is willing to pay absolutely ludicrous salaries (in exchange for world-class performance, of course).
In the case of product designers, though, the list isn’t wholly dominated by mature tech hubs such as Silicon Valley, Seattle, and New York City. San Diego, Chicago, Santa Monica, and Los Angeles made the top 15; Denver, Portland, Salt Lake City, and other cities earned slots on Blind’s overall list. That’s great news for product designers who might not want to move to one of those larger tech hubs—you can secure solid compensation in a variety of places.