IN THIS ARTICLE
- What Does a UX Designer Do?
- How Much Do UX Designers Make?
- How To Boost Your UX Designer Salary
- FAQs About Working as a User Experience Designer
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If you are considering a career as a user experience (UX) designer, there is a ton of potential ahead for you.
The number of UX designers increased from about 10 in the 1950s (UX has been around since the first touch-tone phone!) to 1 million in 2017. By 2050, it’s predicted that UX professionals will top 100 million.
This impressive growth can lead to an impressive salary. Check out this guide to UX salaries for a comprehensive look at what you can expect from a career in UX.
What Does a UX Designer Do?
UX designers consider everything that affects the user’s experience. They are involved in every stage of the creative process— identifying users’ needs, analyzing problems, and developing innovative solutions.
Simply put, a UX designer creates accessible, relevant, efficient, and all-around pleasant experiences for users.
Designers fulfill all of these key UX design roles and responsibilities to create a seamless user experience:
- Conducting user research
- Developing strategies based on target audiences and user personas
- Designing products
- UX writer
- Conducting user testing and analysis
- Creating information architecture
Related Read: What is UX Design?
How Much Do UX Designers Make?
UX designer salaries in the United States vary based on several factors. Most often, salaries primarily depend on the role of the designer. The industry and geographic location of the job, as well as your experience and education, also play an important part. Salary should never be affected by factors like race, gender, or disability.
UX Designer Salaries by Role
The job title UX designer plays a big part in determining salary (more on how to become a UX designer here). UX design is a broad field, so a designer’s responsibilities vary depending on their particular role. Some UX designers will be a jack-of-all-trades and do a little bit of everything. In contrast, others will specialize in one area, like user interface (UI) design or UX research.
Specialized roles typically have higher earning potential than other positions. It takes more time and education to become an expert in a specific technique, which translates to a higher rate. For example, a UX researcher with data analysis skills or a UX engineer that knows coding languages can demand higher rates than a UX designer with general skills.
Let’s take a closer look.
Average Salary: $105,295
UX designer professionals are responsible for a wide range of tasks. They usually start out as generalists at entry-level and support more senior designers. After several years of experience, senior designers may be promoted to lead teams and earn a higher salary. Among the duties a UX might perform are:
- Design concepts, wireframes, and prototypes
- Assist in the process of creating and documenting information architecture
- Develop personas, workflows, and journey maps
- Contribute to research activities, including recruiting participants, analyzing data, and preparing reports
UX designer salary ranges have a national average of $105,295, according to Glassdoor. Salaries range from $77,000 to $143,000.
Related Read: 7 Entry-Level UX Designer Jobs To Break Into the Industry
Average Salary: $83,421
The UI/UX designer position incorporates a few elements of UX but primarily focuses on UI tasks. Consequently, it is a little lower in salary than a UX design position since UX design is more complex. Some responsibilities of a UX/UI designer include:
- Planning user interaction flows
- Research user pain points, backgrounds, and motivations by conducting multiple surveys or studies
- Design intuitive and user-friendly interfaces to meet user requirements
- Develop a style guide to ensure that the product’s look and feel is consistent
Glassdoor reports the salary average for UI/UX designers is $83,421. The salary range is between $55,000 and $125,000 annually.
Average Salary: $105,448
Product Designers, sometimes referred to as product developers, fill a more specialized role. Unlike UX designers, who focus on user needs, product designers consider the needs of stakeholders as well. A product designer might be responsible for:
- Leading or contributing to the entire process of turning ideas into products
- Assisting in the acquisition and transformation of user needs and functional requirements into sketches, concepts, wireframes, and prototypes
- Developing user experiences using visual and interactive design skills and standard tools of the trade
- Coordinating various project phases from start to finish
With increased responsibility comes increased earning potential. The salary average for product designers is $105,448 on Glassdoor. The salary ranges between $64,000 and $173,000 per year.
Average Salary: $103,747
UX architects, also known as experience or information architects, are responsible for defining the content of digital spaces. As these designers require more specialized skills to structure designs and ensure accessibility for everyone, they earn a higher salary. UX architects may perform tasks like:
- Researching and analyzing the needs and wants of users
- Categorizing and organizing information on websites and apps so that it can be easily accessed
- Creating digital interfaces that ensure ease of task completion and quick access to information
- Developing intuitive user interfaces that encourage user engagement
Glassdoor’s national average salary for a UX Architect is $103,747. Annual salaries range between $78,000 and $138,000.
Average Salary: $125,012
One of the most lucrative UX design jobs is UX engineering. The job involves making designs a reality via code. It takes education, skill, and experience to use coding languages like HTML, JS, and CSS, and thus demands a higher salary. A UX engineer is likely to do the following:
- Work with the UI/UX design team to develop practical, functional, and visually appealing designs
- Write functional, high-quality, and efficient code that meets the project’s requirements
- Verify code across all platforms and browsers for
- Continually keep stakeholders informed of project progress and issues
Glassdoor reports that UX engineers earn an average salary of $125,012. The salary range is between $83,000 and $189,000.
UX Designer Salaries by Industry
Earning potential is also affected by the industry a UX designer works in. Some industries, like tech and finance, invest more money in user experience than others, such as healthcare. Because they cater to an audience that requires more digital experiences, they have a greater need for skilled UX designers.
The demand for UX designers varies across different industries, so the pay ranges widely. Sectors with many digital products place a greater emphasis on user experience, therefore they pay more competitively. An orthodontic company, for example, isn’t likely to have as many digital users or complex needs as a fintech company, so they probably won’t pay as much.
Let’s examine the average yearly salary range for each position.
Average Salary: $119,405
It’s no surprise that UX jobs are plentiful in the technology and telecommunications sector. The tech industry is rapidly growing at 5-6% annually, encompassing areas like consumer electronics, hardware, and software.
The result is a booming outlook for a UX career in the tech industry.
A UX designer’s salary in the tech industry is heavily influenced by the company’s size and location. Start-ups usually don’t have the same budget as large, wealthy companies like Apple, IBM, and Microsoft. Also, tech hotspots like California and New York will offer more competitive salaries than areas with less population.
According to Glassdoor, the national average salary for UX designers in the internet and tech industry is $119,405 per year. Compensation ranges between $85,000 and $165,000.
Average Salary: $99,932
After the pandemic, UX design is in high demand in the healthcare industry. Research shows that 88% of healthcare providers either use remote patient monitoring technology or are considering it. Similarly, healthcare software, hardware, and service investments are expected to reach $34 billion worldwide by 2025.
Healthcare UX focuses on optimizing people’s experiences with healthcare technology and services. UX designers in the healthcare industry work on everything from electronic health records to fitness apps to ensure usability, accessibility, and enjoyment. This role is crucial because, as Clinical UX Specialist Dr. Gyles Morrison MBBS MSC states, “Great healthcare UX equals great health for all.”
Although the healthcare industry is currently one of the lower-paying industries for UX designers, earnings are likely to grow with so much growth ahead.
A UX designer in healthcare earns an average salary of $99,932, according to Glassdoor. Salaries range from $68,000 to $148,000.
Average Salary: $115,743
The government sector makes extensive use of digital systems. Programs in national security, policy, and welfare need to be easy to access for both government workers and citizens seeking information and services. Two-thirds of Americans use the internet to interact with the government in some way, according to a 2015 PEW report.
It is important for government agencies to prioritize UX so that citizens can easily access and understand the information they provide. In addition to providing usable systems, UX-driven government programs are also likely to save money for the government.
When it comes to UX, however, government agencies face unique challenges. Sites for government entities need to accommodate many users, reduce security risks, maintain security, and update frequently to keep up with changes in policy and events.
The critical nature of this design work translates into a higher salary. The national average salary for a UX designer in government work is $115,743, according to Glassdoor. Salaries range from $81,000 to $165,000.
Average earning potential: $99,000
There is a high demand for UX designers in the financial sector. Despite the overall record declines caused by the pandemic, many core elements of the finance and insurance industry have recovered or even flourished.
Research shows that both consumer and business adoption of digital systems advanced the equivalent of five years in around eight weeks. Banks developed remote sales and service teams and began offering more online arrangements for loans and mortgages.
Financial services companies are increasingly being urged to offer engaging, intuitive, and purposeful services. Growing demand for UX designers leads to more job opportunities and a higher salary.
Glassdoor reports that the national average salary for a finance UX designer is $111,004. Compensation ranges from $79,000 to $156,000.
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UX Designer Salaries by Experience
Experience also affects UX designers’ earning potential. Job titles often correspond to knowledge levels since more specialized titles require more knowledge. For example, a lead UX engineer is likely to have more experience than a junior UX designer.
UX careers usually follow a few paths: technical, craft, and managerial. Technical and craft tracks are for designers who specialize in a particular field, like interaction design or software engineering. Management tracks are meant for designers who want to manage projects and people. These roles focus on planning, strategy, and communication rather than hands-on creating.
Typically, UX designers at the beginning of the path start at the lower end of the salary range and advance to the higher end with more experience.
Entry-Level/Junior UX Designer Salary
Average Salary: $66,369
Entry-level UX designers with 0-3/4 years of experience are called junior UX designers. Typically, this person is a recent graduate or has made a career change. Most junior-level designer positions require internships and/or a portfolio.
Under the supervision of experienced designers, junior UX designers are responsible for designing and modifying features to improve the overall user experience. It is common for them to work with senior UX designers to make software changes.
A junior UX designer’s national average salary is $64,121, according to Glassdoor. Compensation ranges from $41,000 to $99,000. Factors like your location and experience from internships can help you earn a higher salary.
Mid-Level/Senior UX Designer Salary
Average Salary: $129,187
Senior UX designers generally have 2-6 years of experience. The UX designer has demonstrated expertise in creating and implementing UX designs and has proven proficiency in all aspects of the job.
There is a pretty wide range in starting wages at this level, which may also be explained by demand. There is a significant need for UX designers at the mid-and senior-level, so many companies have openings for these positions.
Glassdoor estimates the national average salary for a senior UX designer is $129,187. A common UX designer salary ranges from $100,000 to $167,000. An experienced UX designer who has the required skills such as prototyping, UI, and interaction design can negotiate more effectively.
Principal UX Designer Salary
Average base salary: $117,681
A senior lead UX designer with 6-8+ years of experience is a principal UX designer. These designers have mastered the UX process, are proficient with the tools, and possess a big-picture strategy.
Having good strategic thinking skills and leadership experience is essential for this role since these designers are responsible for leading projects from beginning to end. The quality of experience and ability to demonstrate mastery is more important than years of experience when determining rates at this level.
The national average salary for a principal UX Designer is $176,493, according to Glassdoor. These salaries range from $121,000 to $257,000. A strong portfolio demonstrating your ability to design and lead highly complicated experiences may earn you a higher salary.
UX Designer Salaries by Education
Since UX is still relatively new and multidisciplinary, there aren’t many formal degree programs. A UX designer may hold various degrees or have pursued a variety of educational paths, such as boot camps. This makes comparing degrees and salaries difficult.
Recent data gathered by Zippia shows that a UX designer’s salary potential increases with their level of education. As the chart shows, those with a Master’s degree earn the highest base salaries.
However, evidence suggests that advanced degrees are not necessarily required to succeed in the UX field. Although college isn’t a requirement for success, technical training and education are highly recommended. You’ll not only be better prepared for success, but you’ll also earn more money as a designer.
Here’s how a UX design education can affect your earnings.
There are plenty of successful UX designers who do not possess a college degree. Although a degree can help employers find candidates with strong design skills and knowledge of UX design, there are other ways as well. Ultimately, recruiters are looking for candidates who have demonstrated skills, understanding, and passion for UX.
Many designers pursue an unconventional path to prepare for their jobs, like attending a bootcamp. The Nielsen Norman Group found that as many as 59% of non-degree-carrying designers took online courses or earned certificates from UX-related education sources like those here at Springboard.
Zippia reports that the most common degree for UX designers is a bachelor’s degree. Currently, 71% of UX designers possess a bachelor’s degree, usually in graphic design, fine arts, or computer science.
UX designers with a bachelor’s degree earn an average salary of $95,174, compared to $89,548 for those with an associate’s degree.
According to Zippia, about 17% of UX designers have a master’s degree. An NN Group survey of UX designers with a master’s degree found that over 20% were degrees in human-computer interaction or human factors.
Because of their specialized focus, designers with a master’s degree can demand a higher salary. These designers earn around $100,243 annually, about 5% more than those with a bachelor’s degree.
How To Boost Your UX Designer Salary
Obviously, there are many factors that affect the salary of a UX designer. If you want to ensure that you are starting at the higher end of the range, what should you do?
Be sure to cover the basics first. In addition to a solid understanding of UX design principles, prepare a stellar resume and be ready to deliver a great interview. You can also do a few other things to increase your earning potential.
Expand Your Skill Set
Make yourself more marketable by adding new skills to your resume. As technology causes rapid changes in work environments, acquiring new skills is a great way to stay current. According to Forbes, “upskilling” can help you stand out from the crowd and future-proof your job.
Take a new course, pursue a new project, or strengthen your average design with a fresh perspective. Take time to learn a new skill, such as frontend development or voice design, to complement the hard skills you already possess. And don’t forget your soft skills—92% of hiring managers say those abilities significantly impact their decisions, so pay attention to your creativity and communication.
Choose the Right Location
As a UX designer, your earning potential is affected by your location. Pay attention to the UX hotspots if you’re considering relocating. Zippia’s salary map shows where UX designers are paid the most, with darker colors denoting higher salaries.
It’s no surprise that America’s tech capitals, California and New York, lead the way in compensation for UX design. Research shows New York and San Francisco are the most popular locations for UX designers. Salaries reach well above average at $99,474 in Sonoma County, CA.
Several other areas with active UX job markets include hotspots along the West and East coasts. Washington tops the list, with Maryland and Nebraska close behind. The UX designer job market on the Washington coast is lucrative, with salaries 9.8% higher than the national average.
If you’re hesitant to move to one of these hotspots, consider remote work. Relocation may not be necessary to work for a larger company if you land a remote gig. Shutdowns during the pandemic created a whole new market for remote UX design. It is anticipated that around 36.8 million Americans will work remotely by 2025, up 87% from before the pandemic.
Gain More Experience
Add valuable experience to your resume by studying new areas of knowledge after you’ve mastered the fundamentals. Designers in their early and mid-career stages should consider volunteering on more projects to gain more hands-on experience or taking on leadership roles to gain experience.
UX designers at the upper levels of the technical or craft tracks may choose to specialize in a new skill to gain additional experience. Adobe suggests the following five up-and-coming areas to upskill as a UX designer: frontend development, voice design, microcopy, UI design, and data science.
Negotiate Your Job Offer
If you are not satisfied with the salary offer you have been given, consider negotiating higher pay. Research what other UX designers are making so that you can ask for a fair wage.
Use the figures and resources in this guide, and check out this chart to see how much UX designers make right now in your area. You can also ask other UX designers what they make to determine how you compare.
Negotiating pay may seem intimidating. Research and practice what you will say beforehand. A little bit of preparation before beginning the conversation will go a long way toward easing your nerves and ensuring your success.
Pursue a New Degree or Certification
A higher level of education will also help you stand out to employers and increase your salary. With today’s competitive job market, education is essential to landing a job with higher pay.
Consider taking a new course and/or earning a UX certificate. Additional education will give you credibility, increase your skills, and help you gain a competitive advantage. Here’s a list of the top UX certification courses to help narrow your search.
FAQs About Working as a User Experience Designer
Still have questions? We’re here for you with answers.
Is UX Design a Good Career?
Absolutely! User experience design is a lucrative and fast-growing career field. Over the next decade, about 17,900 new jobs are expected to open for positions in the UX design field. A 13% growth rate is predicted between 2020 and 2030, far more significant than other occupations’ 8% growth rate. The more significant the demand for skilled designers, the greater the earning potential.
Do UX Designers Get Paid Well?
Yes, UX designers are very well paid. UX is one of the highest-paying entry-level positions, and the growth potential is excellent. The $93,000 median earnings of UX professionals are significantly higher than the national average. In 2020, the National Average Salary was $56,310, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
How Much Money Can a UX Designer Make?
An entry-level position can start at $80,000 to $100,000, and salary increases as you gain experience. The base salary of a UX designer is usually around $100,000, and successful senior UX designers make over $125,000 per year. In management and leadership roles, salaries can surpass $175,000.
Do You Need a Degree To Be a UX Designer?
A degree is not always required to enter the UX field. There are many designers without degrees or with degrees in other areas. However, those with education do earn more than those without. The most common education among UX designers is a bachelor’s degree, and many hold certifications from institutions and bootcamps dedicated to UI/UX.
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