From Novice to Expert: My Journey Through UX Design Salaries 🚀

From Novice to Expert: My Journey Through UX Design Salaries 🚀

Table of Contents

Understanding UX Designer Salaries: Factoring Location, Experience, and Negotiation Tactics

Explore professional UX design salary insights and learn valuable creative skills today. Start your journey now!

 

Join me as I share my UX design salary progression and experience!

 

– Introduction
– UX Designer Salaries
– Entry Level Salaries
– Taking Growth Opportunities
– Location Impacts Salary
– Negotiation Tips
– Conclusion

 

Estimated reading time: 20 minutes, 3 seconds. Contains 4013 words

 

Hey there! Today, I’m going to delve into the world of UX design, focusing specifically on the ins and outs of a UX designer’s salary.

 

Hone New Skills with Skillshare

During my quarantine, I have been using Skillshare to stay motivated and engaged by learning new skills like acrylic painting, drawing, and even creating my own merchandise.

Pairing this fun, therapeutic activity with my typical work routine has been a wonderful way to recharge. Skillshare also offers affordable, engaging UX design classes, which I’m sure some of you will be interested in.

I have especially enjoyed Writing for Self-Discovery: Six Journaling Prompts for Gratitude and Growth by Yasmin Cheyenne. This class has aided me in navigating my complex thoughts and emotions, a particularly valuable tool in these challenging times.

A second recommended class is Intro to Procreate: Illustrating on the iPad by Brooke Glazer, a great starting point for iPad drawing beginners like myself.

What excites me about Skillshare is the fresh content they regularly upload from artists I admire.

 

Navigating Salary Conversations: A UX designer’s perspective

My Journey Through UX Design Salaries 🚀

Now, let’s get to the main event. Revealing personal salary information online can be daunting due to potential judgement or misinterpretations. However, I believe that sharing these experiences can inspire and inform fellow UX designers navigating the job market.

 “Knowledge is power, and the more you know, the better equipped you are to make decisions for yourself.”

 

I’ve witnessed talented women and people of colour often receiving inadequate pay simply because they do not know what they deserve, much like settling for a toxic partner in a relationship. The confidence to assert oneself often stems from an understanding of reasonable expectations within the industry, which can be hard to navigate without open dialogue.

I embarked on my career right after college, earning a modest $42,000 in a marketing role. Jump forward to my first UX design position; my base salary ranged from $70-85k, progressing to $100k in my second year. At present, three years into my UX design career, my total compensation package (inclusive of base salary, equities, bonuses, and benefits) now exceeds $200k. Comparing this to my starting salary, I’ve effectively increased my income fivefold.

Ambitious? Absolutely.

 

Demystifying UX designer salaries: Location, Experience, and Comparison

As the saying goes, “location, location, location” plays a massive role in determining your salary as a UX designer. If you’re based in Seattle, New York, or Texas, chances are your salary will be lower than if you worked in San Francisco or Silicon Valley due to the cost of living.

Public domain websites such as Levels.fyi offer a comprehensive breakdown of salaries according to different roles and levels—all information willingly contributed by employees from large companies, including Google and Facebook. Detailed insights include years of work experience overall and within the company, painting a realistic picture of your potential earning capabilities.

Newly graduated UX designers can expect a starting salary anywhere between $65 and $90,000.

This range is influenced by your educational background and levels of experience, with higher salaries generally offered to those holding degrees in interaction design or human-computer interaction. As an intermediate designer with 1.5 years of experience, my basic salary was within the $100–120k range plus equities. This compensation package, although deemed low by some, offered valuable growth opportunities that were pivotal in my career development.

 

 

The Importance of Negotiation and Advocacy

A UX designer’s perspective

“Negotiation is fundamental to the job search process. If you don’t ask for what you want, you’re unlikely to get it.”

 

Ensuring you’re adequately compensated begins with negotiation. Although nerve-wracking, advocating for what you’re worth is a critical skill needed to ensure fair compensation. More often than not, simply asking for a higher salary can initiate a discussion. Especially for women or POCs, who often tread lightly to avoid being perceived negatively, it’s imperative to engage in these conversations.

The strongest negotiating tactic is to have a competing offer. This gives you the leverage to request a higher compensation package, and if they value you, companies are likely to match the better offer.

Ensuring you're adequately compensated begins with negotiation

Always remember that your worth extends beyond what you produce at work. It’s essential to understand what you deserve and to engage in the conversations that will lead you there. But beyond that, your value is innate and not tethered to your product output.

Knowledge is crucial in your negotiations and career journey. To foster such discussions, 50% of my income from this blog will be donated to organizations committed to anti-racist work.

 

TLDR

  1. Skillshare offers affordable, creative, and therapeutic classes, beneficial for those seeking inspiration or wanting to learn new skills during quarantine.
  2. Understanding what is a fair salary helps in preventing the shortchanging of marginalized communities.
  3. Websites like Levels.fyi provide a comprehensive breakdown of salaries according to job title, level, and location.
  4. Beginners in UX Design can expect a starting salary of $65-90k.
  5. Negotiation is crucial when discussing compensation packages.
  6. Having a competitive offer is a strong negotiation tactic.
  7. Your worth doesn’t equate to your work productivity. Value yourself.

See you in the next post!

 

Takeaway!

Understanding UX Designer Salaries

The primary topic of this post is about salaries in the field of UX design. The author details their own salary experiences, starting with a 42K annual salary in their early career in marketing, to a 70-85K base in their first full-time UX design role, and now exceeding 200K in total compensation including bonuses and benefits. They share that they benefited from transparent salary discussions and encourage others to know their worth and negotiate accordingly.

The author gives a detailed discussion on compensation disparities due to gender and geographical location. They also discuss the significance of career progression and growth opportunities, especially for those starting off their career. They conclude the article asserting the importance of knowing one’s worth and discussing salaries more openly, while also reminding readers that they are more than just their productivity.

 
This is a guestpost*
 

FAQ

Newly graduated UX designers

Interested in this fulfilling, fast-growing field? You probably have questions. And I’ve got answers! In this guide, I’ll cover everything you need to launch an epic UX design career.

Let’s dive in!

 

Do UX designers make good money?

Yes, UX designers are well-compensated for their work. According to Glassdoor, the average UX designer salary in the US is $94,544 per year as of December 2023[1]. This is significantly higher than the overall average salary across all occupations ($61,900). With demand growing for user-centric design, salaries keep rising too.

 

Can a UX engineer earn 300K?

The average range of a UX engineer is $100k, but it is also noticed that years of experience can make a top handful of UX engineers from the top companies make $300k or more from highly expensive areas. Though hard to find, it can be achieved by the UX engineer at the executive director level.

 

Is UX design a stressful job?

UX design can be stressful at times, especially when deadlines loom. However, most UX designers report high job satisfaction. UX design offers variety, creativity, collaboration, and the chance to solve interesting problems. This helps offset the stress levels typically.

 

Are UX design jobs hard to get?

The need for UX capabilities is growing at a high rate. There are many job openings, but there are many job vacancies in that region. The jobs to get in UX are generally easy with capability in the respective field of the job. A degree specifically in UX or HCI isn’t required; transferable skills from other fields can usually also be transitioned into UX jobs.

 

How high is the demand for UX designers?

With the global UX design market expected to reach $300+ billion by 2028, demand is skyrocketing. As companies realize the business value of user-centricity, they scramble to recruit UX talent. LinkedIn’s 2022 Emerging Jobs Report ranked UX design at #2 for fastest-growing jobs. High demand makes a compelling career case for UX. McKinsey research shows design-led companies have 32% more revenue and 56% higher total returns to shareholders. No wonder employers crave UX skills!

As AI and new technologies emerge, human-centered design will only grow more crucial too. Rest assured, UX designers will stay in demand.

 

Is UX design a good remote job?

Yes, UX design adapts well to remote work. Key UX tasks like user research, testing, interviews, analytics, and some design/prototyping work can readily be done remotely. Many companies switched to fully-remote UX teams during the pandemic – and many stayed that way. With the right collaboration tools, UX can thrive remotely.

 

Does UI or UX pay more?

Currently, average salaries for UI and UX roles are fairly comparable. On Glassdoor, UI designers in the US earn an average of $91,869 while UX designers average $94,544. However, specialized UX roles like UX researcher or UX architect may pay more than comparably specialized UI roles.

 

Is UX design a side hustle?

Absolutely, UX design makes an excellent side hustle. It’s easy to find freelance gigs and build a client roster incrementally in your spare time. Start by offering UX research, testing, or accessibility audits. Then expand into strategy, prototyping, and design. A side hustle keeps your UX skills sharp too.

 

Is UX design a safe and also a competitive career?

Yes, UX design qualifies as a relatively stable and future-proof career with excellent growth prospects. As technology expands, nearly every company needs UX strategy and design. With demand for UX talent surging rapidly in recent years while supply struggles to keep up, it’s both safe and competitive for now. Getting your foot in the door while demand is high can set you up nicely for long-term success.

 

What is the salary of entry level UX designer in Google?

According to Glassdoor, the average base pay for an entry level UX designer at Google is $108,757 per year as of January 2024. Keep in mind that total compensation with bonuses and equity can drive that number much higher over time.

 

Is becoming a UX designer easy?

Becoming a job-ready UX designer does require effort – like any specialty. You’ll need to build skills in design, research, prototyping, testing, and analysis. However, the field is accessible to people from many backgrounds. With drive and consistent skill-building, transitioning into UX jobs is very achievable within 6-12 months for most.

 

What skills do UX designers need?

Key skills for UX designers include:

  • User research methods
  • Data analysis
  • Prototyping & testing
  • Visual + interaction design
  • Information architecture
  • UI, CX, and usability knowledge
  • Critical thinking
  • Creativity + problem solving
  • Communication and collaboration

Empathy, curiosity, persistence, and passion for the user experience are crucial too! Hard skills can be learned, but intrinsic qualities make top UX talent shine.

 

Is it worth it to learn UX?

With high salaries and ample career opportunities, yes – investing in UX skills is incredibly worthwhile. Glassdoor lists over 15,000 open UX jobs on their platform as of January 2024. And UX design tops LinkedIn’s list of emerging jobs, growing 48% annually. As technology expands, nearly every company needs UX strategy and design. Building UX expertise now can pay dividends for decades to come in this rapidly growing field.

Fortunately, you can gain entry-level UX skills through self-directed learning if time or money constraints make classes/bootcamps tricky. Quality online resources like Coursera, Interaction Design Foundation, Springboard and more offer flexible and affordable UX learning. With a few key projects for your portfolio, you can position yourself for junior roles.

 

What type of UX designer makes the most money?

Currently, UX researchers and UX architects edge out other UX specialities when it comes to average salaries according to Glassdoor data. For example:

  • UX researcher: $98,565
  • Information architect: $134,145
  • UX designer: $94,544

However, salaries vary widely based on factors like company, industry, city, and years of experience too. All specializations offer ample earning potential over time.

 

Is 30 too late to become a UX designer?

Absolutely not! Many people successfully enter UX design in their 30s or 40s. UX rewards transferable skills from other fields too. Your maturity and professional expertise at 30+ can be assets so don’t let age deter you from pivoting into an exciting UX career.

While a common misconception holds that UX is only for recent grads, professionals from all backgrounds thrive in UX daily.

Your life and work experience provide invaluable context for human-centered design. If you have the drive, making a successful career change to UX in your 30s or beyond is very realistic.

 

Is 40 too old to become a UX designer?

Not at all! UX design is a profoundly human-centric practice. Like design thinking itself, maturity and professional experience are assets – not limitations. Many talented professionals successfully transition into UX design after years in other specialties. Your expertise can allow you to advance rapidly and offer immense value.

 

Where do UX designers make the most money?

Currently, the top-paying metro areas for UX designers are the tech hub cities of San Jose, San Francisco, Seattle, Austin, Boston, and Washington DC. However, salaries vary based on company, industry, specific role, and years of experience (like I said earlier). With remote UX work on the rise, your location matters far less than your skills and expertise.

 

Do UX designers earn more than developers?

Currently UX and development roles have comparable average salaries – both pay very well relative to national averages! According to Glassdoor, the average base pay for UX designers is $94,544 vs $97,297 for software engineers in the US as of January 2024. However, salaries vary widely within both fields based on specialization, experience, company, geography, and other factors. Both offer fantastic earning potential over the long term.

 

What is the highest salary in UX?

Currently, specialized UX roles like UX researcher and UX architect report the highest average salaries according to Glassdoor, at $98,565 and $134,145 respectively. However, seasoned UX directors and VPs at major tech companies bring home the biggest paychecks, potentially over $350-400k or more in some cases when you include bonuses and equity compensation. But all UX careers paths pay very well relative to national averages.

 

Do UX designers work a lot?

Work-life balance for UX designers is generally good compared to some other tech roles. Occasional crunch times do happen, but UX roles tend to offer flexibility too. Because productivity requires creativity and insight, few companies benefit from driving 60-80 hour weeks in UX long-term. With excellent time management skills, most UX designers avoid excessive overtime while thriving in their careers.

 

UX design = A good career?

Yes, UX design is an outstanding career choice with ample opportunities. As technology expands, nearly every company needs UX strategy and design – making talented UX professionals profoundly valuable. With high salaries, abundant jobs, excellent work-life balance, and recession-resistance, UX offers fantastic prospects for the decades ahead.

 

Does UX design require coding?

While helpful, coding skills are not strictly required for many UX roles focused on strategy, research, testing, and design. Some familiarity with HTML/CSS helps create realistic prototypes, but most UX tools don’t demand full-on development skills.

For UX engineers and other technical roles, coding prowess is vital of course! But multiple UX career paths exist both for coders and non-coders.

 

Is UX design a lot of coding?

For most non-engineering UX roles, little to no coding is required day to day. UX strategy, research, analysis, and design skills are far more important in roles like UX designer, researcher, analyst, or manager. But technical UX roles like UX engineer do emphasize coding mastery – to turn concepts, prototypes, and wireframes into real digital products and experiences. There are paths for all preferences!

 

Is UX design harder than coding?

Neither is intrinsically “harder” – they simply require different skill sets. Like coding, UX design takes considerable knowledge and practice to master. Key skills like psychology, design, analytics, prototyping, testing, and research take time to develop through study and application. But for those with innate empathy, creativity, and problem solving abilities UX logic clicks beautifully in time. Choose your path to play to your unique strengths!

 

Why does UX pay so much?

Exceptional UX design provides tremendous strategic value in the digital era. Research shows design-led companies substantially outperform the broader market on revenue, profitability, and shareholder returns. With ROI like that, top UX talent earns every penny! Furthermore, demand for UX skills grows much faster than supply as technology expands exponentially. Scarcity powers salaries too.

 

Is UX design oversaturated 2023?

Far from it! LinkedIn’s 2022 emerging jobs report ranked UX design #2 globally for fastest recent growth, expanding 48% annually. UX job openings vastly outnumber qualified candidates in most regions. With demand accelerating across nearly all industries, concerns about over-saturation seem unfounded. Projections suggest ample growth in UX jobs, firms, and salaries for decades to come.

 

Is there a shortage of UX designers?

Absolutely. Supply struggles to keep pace as UX demand accelerates – creating prime conditions for those entering the field now while growth is red hot. Hiring managers widely report shortages of mid and senior-level UX talent especially. With industry demand expanding by nearly 50% annually, UX skills gaps impact companies worldwide right now. Seize the opportunities!

 

What degree is needed for UX design?

No one specific degree is required to thrive in UX design. While degrees in human-computer interaction, UX design, information science or psychology set strong foundations, professionals from all backgrounds make successful transitions into UX every day. Transferable skills in design, research, analytics, writing, and more open doors. Drive and continuous learning matter most.

 

What qualifications do you need to be a UX designer?

More than academic credentials, UX design requires a curious, empathetic, creative mindset paired with key skills. Must-have abilities include:

  • Conducting user research
  • Data analysis
  • Design thinking
  • Visual + interaction design
  • Information architecture
  • Prototyping + testing
  • UI/UX expertise

Soft skills like communication, collaboration, time management and adaptability are crucial too!

 

Can UX designers work remotely?

Yes, most non-engineering UX roles adapt extremely well to remote work, which exploded across the industry during COVID-19. Tools for research, design, collaboration, and testing enable fully-distributed teams to function smoothly. Many companies plan to keep some if not all UX team members fully remote indefinitely. Location flexibility creates immense opportunities for skilled

 

Resources:

[1] https://www.coursera.org/articles/ux-designer-salary-guide

[2] https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/user-experience-designer-salary-SRCH_KO0,24.htm

[3] https://careerfoundry.com/en/blog/ux-design/how-much-will-i-earn-as-a-ux-designer/

[4] https://www.ziprecruiter.com/Salaries/What-Is-the-Average-UX-Designer-Salary-by-State

[5] https://www.indeed.com/career/user-experience-designer/salaries

 

So You Want to Become a UX Designer? Also, Who Earns More💰: Web Developers or UX Designers?

The importance of user experience can be brought to the forefront with a simple example. Have you ever felt confused while using a particular app since you couldn’t find what you were looking for? Or, have you ever struggled with a website that failed to respond? If you have been in scenarios similar to the ones mentioned above, then you must understand the importance of user experience in making a product or interface easy for your prospective customers’ use.✨

 

What is a UX Designer? UX designers primarily deal with designing painless, intuitive digital interfaces. They jump into user’s minds to create products and webpages that please rather than puzzle.

Pro-Tip: Understand that most people can walk to the store and buy products. Even opening a webpage requires no heavy lifting. But navigating through a confusing, unengaging webpage isn’t exactly what they signed up for. UX designers contribute to building awesome webpages that have the viewers returning for more after the first view.

The salary of a UX designer in the United States is roughly $97,000 per year. The top 10% of UX designers based in the United States earn $140,000 or more annually.

Average Salaries of web developer vs. UX designer💰: On average, salary of a UX designer in the United States is around $97,000 per year. The top 10% average $140,000+ a year!
The average U.S. salary of a web developer? Around $77,000.  Top earners net $121,000+ per year.

So at most experience levels, UX designers out-earn web developers. However, web dev is a broader field with more specialty niches. An elite JavaScript developer at a FAANG company may well beat a mid-level UX pro’s salary. But for the average Jane or Joe, UX design offers superior earning potential. Cha-ching! 💰

 

🎨 Do UX Designers Need to Draw?

Can you pursue user experience design if you flunked high school art class? Absolutely! While drawing skills are great, they aren’t mandatory.

Here’s what UX designers really need:

  • A sharp eye for design elements like layout, spacing, and typography
  • Keen observational skills to pinpoint usability issues
  • Empathy and logic to map optimal user journeys
  • Clear communication to sell proposed solutions

While some UX designers create detailed interface illustrations, others stick to wireframes and prototypes. Diagramming apps reduce the need for drawing mastery. Focus on honing the core UX skillset rather than artistry. That said, sketching interfaces by hand has unique cognitive benefits. Consider taking an illustration course but don’t let an unsteady hand stop your UX ambitions!

 

🔮 Does UX Design Have a Future?

“Should I learn UX design, or will robots replace me?” Don’t stress! UX design boasts phenomenal future-proofing. For starters, employment in the field is exploding. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts 22% UX growth by 2029 – over 6x the national average. Global demand is skyrocketing too.

But what about automation? AI currently handles narrow UX tasks like user testing. But replicating human intuition and creativity poses a mighty challenge! Rest assured, the unique value sharp UX thinkers provide is safe. In fact, expect soaring demand for empathetic, big-picture UX pros who can deploy new technologies thoughtfully.

The future looks rosy for user-centered designers ready to evolve!

 

⏱ How Long Does it Take to Learn UI/UX Design?

In a hurry to begin your UX career? Let’s assess the timeline.

  • 3-6 months:
    • Immerse yourself in UX principles and tools through online courses
    • Absorb mentored projects and feedback from the UX community
    • Curate an eye-catching portfolio demonstrating core skills
  • 6-12 months:
    • Continue sharpening abilities with higher-level courses
    • Seek an internship or junior UX role to gain real experience
  • Within 1-2 years:
    • Build an impressive portfolio and professional network
    • Land an associate or mid-level UX design position!

This assumes dedicating at least 25+ hours a week. With consistent effort, you can break into UX design within months but never stop leveling up your expertise!

 

🥵 Is it Hard to Learn UI/UX Design?

“That learning timeline seems intense…is UX design difficult to pick up?” Another resounding “No!”

Unlike technical skills like programming, UX revolves around creativity and intuition rather than complex logic. You don’t need fancy degrees or Photoshop mastery. With online education and passion-fueled consistency, anyone can thrive. That said, UX mastery demands lifelong learning but growing your skills is fulfilling! The challenge lies more in job-seeking rather than UX skills themselves. But we’ll cover that next. 😉

 

💪 What Skills Are Required to Be a UI/UX Designer?

Sure, UX skills aren’t extremely complex. But what abilities should you focus on cultivating?

Hard Skills

  • Information architecture: Structuring interfaces and content logically
  • Interaction design: Crafting intuitive user flows
  • Prototyping: Transforming concepts into clickable models
  • Usability testing: Identifying pain points
  • Visual design: Developing interfaces that align with brand aesthetics
  • Wireframing: Mocking up page layouts

 

Soft Skills

  • Communication: Conveying concepts clearly and persuasively
  • Creativity: Taking innovative approaches to problems
  • Empathy: Connecting deeply with users’ needs
  • Teamwork: Collaborating with stakeholders

Sharpen this well-rounded repertoire, and you’ll shine!

 

💻 How Much Coding Do UX Designers Need to Know?

“Do I need to be a JavaScript guru to design web interfaces?” Nope! UX designers require just foundational HTML/CSS skills rather than advanced programming.

Here’s why a little coding goes a long way:

  • Communicate better with devs using shared language
  • Grasp technical constraints for viable designs
  • Prototype basic responsive interactions
  • Hand off cleaner specs to developers

So aim to:

  • Know core HTML tags for marking up content
  • Feel comfortable with basic CSS for styling and layout
  • Tinker with JavaScript to build prototypes

With these fundamentals down, you’ll sidestep reliance on devs during design. But you don’t need to be a coder or match a computer science major!

 

🎨 Do UX Designers Need to Know Graphic Design?

Should you bother learning visual design principles like color theory and typography? Short answer: yes!

Grasping graphic design unlocks skills like:

  • Crafting professional, appealing visual interfaces
  • Aligning UIs with brand style guides
  • Mocking up ideas more effectively
  • Communicating design intent persuasively

Luckily, you don’t need a graphics degree. Just get familiar with layout, visual hierarchy, color palettes, typography, and tools like Figma, Sketch, or Adobe Creative Cloud.

Treat design as a UX superpower rather than a chore. A little know-how goes far!


And there you have it – everything you need to break into the exciting field of UX design! With passion and diligence, you can transform yourself from UX newbie to pro.

Still have questions? Sound off below! I’m here to help you start mastering user experience.

Let me know what UX topics you want to explore more so I can craft helpful follow-up posts. And be sure to follow our blog for future design guides!

Now – are you ready to change the world through UX? 😎

 

Resources:

https://www.ziprecruiter.com/Salaries/UX-Designer-Salary

https://www.ziprecruiter.com/Salaries/Web-Developer-Salary

https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/web-developers.htm#tab-6 

 

Lord1