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Is UX Design a Good Career Choice With AI and Tech Layoffs?

9 minute read | June 23, 2023
Monica J. White

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Monica J. White

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Choosing a new career is a difficult decision in itself, but factoring in economic trends and new technological developments makes it even harder. It’s easy to feel decision paralysis when there’s no way to know for sure if the career you’re starting will stay secure in the future.

UX design is just one of many careers right now facing this problem—people don’t know what kind of impact AI will have on the industry, and they don’t know how long the tech layoffs will continue.

In this article, we’ll explore the solid facts about the UX job market today and what the future looks like for UX designers. Spoiler alert: we think UX is and will continue to be a great career to get into for all kinds of people. Let us tell you why!

Is UX Design a Good Career Choice With AI and Tech Layoffs?

Recent tech layoffs, while worrying, are not the product of a deeper problem or reduction in the size of the tech industry. Economic worry, unsustainable growth rates during the pandemic, and social contagion are core causes of the tech layoffs, and it’s a trend that will end soon enough. This issue, at least, shouldn’t dissuade you from pursuing a career in user experience (UX) design.

Artificial intelligence, on the other hand, is a much more complex and uncertain subject. You can find experts with both optimistic and pessimistic views on the topic, but the truth is that we just don’t know yet what the impact will be. We know there will be change, but we don’t know exactly what it will look like or who it will affect.

However, that change isn’t here just yet. There’s still time to jump on the UX design train, learn to leverage AI, and stay ahead of the game.

UX Design Job Market and Demand

Let’s start by diving into the UX design job market and how it looks right now.

UX Design Job Market

UX designer is currently #24 on Glassdoor’s 50 Best Jobs in America list, which rates careers based on the average salary, job satisfaction rate, and number of open jobs. The site counted 7,070 open jobs throughout 2022, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics counts a total of 197,000 “digital designers” in the country.

It’s not certain whether the Bureau of Labor Statistics takes trends like AI into account, but for now, the number of digital designers is predicted to grow by 23% from 2021-2031.

While these numbers look good, it doesn’t mean you can start your job search on Monday and land a role by Friday. It’s still competitive out there, and finding work takes time and persistence, regardless of your career choice.

What Is the Scope of UX Design?

The scope of UX design and the difference between UI (user interface) and UX design are frequently discussed topics. The short answer is that UI design refers only to the design of user interfaces for digital products, while UX design encompasses various aspects of the user’s interaction with any kind of product or service. Here are some of the areas UX designers are involved in:

  • User research
  • Information architecture
  • Interaction design 
  • Visual design (including UI)
  • Usability testing
  • Accessibility 
  • Graphic design
  • Prototyping 
  • Iterative design
  • Collaboration between different elements
  • Strategy and planning to align UX design efforts with business needs

Are UX Designers in Demand?

Right now, Glassdoor shows 2,312 UX design job openings in the United States. Indeed shows 3,684. Apple lists 55 UX-related roles at its company worldwide, and Google lists 471. Amazon lists a further 81 UX design-related jobs within its company, and Microsoft shows 640.

Demand for UX designers definitely exists, and it’s no surprise when you think about it. Every product available has to go through some form of UX design process, and there is a staggering amount of digital products and services available around the world.

A Career in UX Design: Advantages and Drawbacks

When considering a new career, it’s important to be objective and realistic about what you’re getting into. No job is perfect, and the right combination of specific advantages and drawbacks changes from person to person. Here’s what to think about for UX design.

Advantages

  • Creative fulfillment: Visual designers have constant opportunities to be creative and submit designs in a “best idea wins” environment.
  • Impactful work: By working on products and services, you can see the direct impact of your work on users and consumers.
  • Varied job opportunities: UX design is important across a range of industries and you can find projects that matter to you.
  • Cross-disciplinary work: UX designers are part of many different stages of the development process, allowing them to learn from others and even find new interests that can shape their careers going forward.
  • Continuous growth: The UX design industry is constantly evolving. New trends emerge and new challenges appear, keeping the career exciting and fulfilling.

Drawbacks

  • Subjectivity and balance: The “correctness” of a design decision is never absolute, and it can be difficult to balance UX ideals with business needs, user expectations, and technical limitations. 
  • Time constraints: UX designers will often find themselves working to tight deadlines, which can be a cause of stress, design compromises, and insufficient testing.
  • Feedback and criticism: Creative work often feels very personal and it can be difficult to learn how to receive and respond to criticism comfortably and effectively.
  • Conflicting opinions: The importance of UX design is accepted in many areas, but you will still run into companies and people who don’t see its value and fail to prioritize good design when necessary. This can result in non-optimal work environments for UX design teams.

Questions About a UX Career Amidst AI and Tech Layoffs

The topic of AI is on everyone’s lips right now, and aspiring UX designers want to know if they can still have a successful career in the industry. The tech layoffs of late 2022 and 2023 are also a cause of concern that we’ll look into.

Will AI Take Over UX Design Jobs?

We don’t think so. AI-generated art isn’t clean; it isn’t pixel-perfect, and—most importantly—while AI can produce an image, it can’t yet build an entire interface.

Some people writing on the subject ask questions like “How long do you think it will take for someone to fuse these models into a production-ready system?” The answer is that if this ever happens, it’ll take a really long time. Enormous steps would need to be taken to achieve that, and we’re not there yet.

Plus, that’s only addressing visual design. UX is a lot more than just that—it’s user research, it’s focus groups, it’s accessibility functions. It’s thinking, designing, and iterating systems and ideas for a product that doesn’t even exist yet.

As AI evolves and improves, it will hopefully learn to do some jobs well enough that we can entrust it to automate certain tasks. For example, in the area of prototyping. However, the impact of this wouldn’t be negative; it would free up time for designers to focus on more creative and complex tasks and maybe even allow them to take on more UX projects within a set time.

Do Layoffs in the Tech Industry Impact UX Design?

Much of the tech layoffs have focused on closing down side projects that aren’t producing profit. Whole teams assigned to these newly abandoned products and services get laid off, including UX designers.

However, the tech layoffs aren’t going to last forever. They will, unfortunately, affect some current professionals, but it’s not something aspiring UX designers need to worry about. It’s very likely that it will all be over by the time you finish your education and are ready to start your job search. Some companies are back on hiring sprees already.

Is It Hard To Land a UX Design Job?

The job market is a tough place in any industry, often with hundreds of people vying for each position. However, motivated individuals committed to learning UX design, gaining experience, creating portfolio work, and preserving through the job search will be able to succeed.

Is UX Design a Good Career for the Future?

As mentioned before, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has predicted good job security and strong growth patterns for the digital design industry. The growth of AI may have some impact, but it’s not guaranteed to be a negative, and nothing is certain enough that it should stop pursuing your career of choice.

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UX Design Career Overview

As for breaking into the UX industry, there’s quite a lot that you need to learn before you can start applying for jobs.

General Prerequisites for a UX Design Career

Here are some of the key areas you need to address to get started.

Foundational Knowledge

  • Design thinking
  • Design-based research methods
  • Competitive research 
  • Recruiting, writing screeners, and conducting interviews
  • Empathy maps
  • User personas
  • Information architecture
  • Site maps, user flows, card sorts
  • Low-fidelity designs through sketching
  • Guerilla usability testing
  • Wireframing
  • Visual design
  • Psychology principles
  • Prototyping 

Education

While self-study is an option, most UX designers attend a college course in design or attend a UX design bootcamp, specially designed to teach beginners foundational UX principles and train them for entry-level work.

Skills

In addition to the technical skills mentioned above, UX designers also need stand-out communication and empathy skills. Every facet of UX design is centered around the user and how they think, feel, and react to products. Putting yourself in other people’s shoes is essential for doing the job well.

Tools

  • Figma
  • Adobe XD
  • Sketch
  • InVision
  • Axure RP
  • Balsamiq
  • Marvel
  • UXPin
  • Zeplin

Other Requirements

One of the most important things for a UX designer is their professional portfolio. Depending on its quality, it can pull up a lacking resume or drag down an exemplary one. This is because it showcases exactly how good your skills are—portfolio pieces for UX design can take the reader through much of the design process of a project, displaying much more than just your sketching or wireframing skills.

UX Design Salary

The average salary for a UX designer in the United States is $93,982.

is UX design a good career, UX Design Salary

After your experience level in the industry has increased, and your skills have developed further, salaries typically rise to around $101,057. For the most experienced UX designers at the highest-paid companies can earn up to $196,000.

UX Design Career Path

Everyone’s career path is different, and one common choice each individual makes is whether to shift into management or stay as an individual contributor. Here are some of the different job titles you earn as you progress through your career:

  • Junior UX designer
  • UX designer
  • Senior UX designer
  • Manager of UX design
  • Principal US designer
  • Associate Director of UX Design
  • Director of UX Design
  • Vice President of UX Design 

Pursuing a Career in UX Design: Real-Life Examples and Stories To Inspire You

Here are some stories from real people who made a career switch into UX design without a traditional design education.

Rachel How

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Rachel How worked a variation of jobs in sales and spent time as an estate agent and a digital marketer before she decided to quit and learn UI/UX design.

Lily Cameron

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Lily studied Business at university and went into marketing after graduation before deciding to transition into UX design, completely self-taught.

Is UX Design a Good Career FAQs

There are a lot of different elements to think about when approaching a career change. Here are some of the first questions that people ask.

How Stressful Is a UX Career?

While deadlines are a big part of UX design, it’s not known to be a particularly stressful career. In fact, reports on Glassdoor show a 4 out of 5 job satisfaction rating, which is very high.

Does UX Design Involve Coding?

UX design doesn’t typically involve coding, but learning some basic programming concepts can help facilitate a better understanding of the development process and the technical requirements for designs. It will also help you collaborate more closely with the developers who turn your designs into working models.

Do UX Designers Make Six Figures?

UX designers can make six-figure salaries in high-paid states such as New York, California, Texas, and many others. A junior UX designer may not start on six figures, but they can definitely reach this goal if they gain experience and develop their skills.

Who Earns More: UX or UI Designers?

The average mean salary for a UI designer is $98,709, which just beats the $94,096 for UX designers. However, this is such a small difference, and you’re likely to see plenty of UI and UX jobs with very similar salaries.

Since you’re here…
Interested in a career in UX design? Rise to the top of the CV pile when you enroll in our UX Bootcamp—you’ll get a UX job or your tuition money back. Take a look at our student reviews and test out our free UX course to get a feel for our style and results. TL;DR: average starting salaries for our students = $85,440. Let’s do this.

About Monica J. White

Monica is a journalist with a lifelong interest in technology, from PC hardware to software and programming. She first started writing over ten years ago and has made a career out of it. Now, her focus is centered around technology and explaining complex concepts to a broader audience.