How to Become a UX/UI designer in Austin

UX designers and UI designers are in high demand, enjoy generous salaries, and get to solve complex and impactful problems. Read on to learn more about how to get a job as a UX/UI designer in Austin.

ux designer austin

Austin, TX has earned the nickname the “Silicon Hills'' because of the cluster of technology companies that have made the city their home. In addition to being something of a mini Silicon Valley given the number of major tech companies that have built outposts in Austin (Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon, PayPal, IBM, and Oracle to name a few), it has both homegrown legacy businesses like Dell and Whole Foods, and startups like Convey, BigCommerce, and Bungalo.

As of November 2020, 35 companies have relocated to or opened new facilities in the Austin area, and the city continues to draw talent from around the country thanks to its job opportunities, the lower cost of living compared to tech hub likes the San Francisco Bay Area, and its arts and culture scene, with festivals like South by Southwest and the Austin Film Festival.

The growing presence of tech companies and startups in the area has upped the demand for UX/UI designers across the board, making Austin one of the top eight cities in the U.S. for UX designers when it comes to job openings and compensation. Even the city’s other dominant industries such as higher education, clean technology, advanced manufacturing, and space technology have caught on to the importance of UX/UI designers, which means there’s an increasingly diverse range of opportunities for UX/UI design experts, more competitive salaries, and greater job security.

How to become a UX/UI designer in Austin

There’s no set path to becoming a UX/UI designer in Austin, but below are some proven tips to get you closer to that dream UX/UI design job.

  1. Design skills. Regardless of the city or industry in which you choose to work, if you want a career in UX/UI design, you’ll need to equip yourself with some foundational skills such as creating wireframes, user flows, site maps, and high fidelity prototypes; incorporating user research and feedback into graphic design, visual design, and interaction design; performing user testing and being an advocate for the user; proficiency with design tools such as Figma and Photoshop; and collaborating with stakeholders such as product managers and a larger design team. While many of these skills can be self-taught, introductory design courses and in-depth UX design bootcamps are a great way to fast-track your learning, get you up to speed on design process best practices, and help you build a job-scoring portfolio.
  2. Practice, practice, practice. Find opportunities to apply user-centric design principles to projects. UX/UI design is a visual field, so create your own sketches, mockups, and storyboards for how a website, platform, or app can be improved; identify usability problems that can be resolved through UX research and brainstorm possible solutions using design thinking. Even if you have to create your own opportunities through personal projects or unsolicited redesigns, this will give you the chance to practice your skills and show a potential hiring manager your passion and enthusiasm for the craft. 
  3. Show that you think about the user. Austin has become a tech hub in its own right, but it’s still home to a range of industries that each have different needs when it comes to UX/UI design. This means that when you’re applying to user experience designer jobs, you’ll need to consider the specific experiences and needs of users and the goals of the product or service. Show that you have curiosity and a creative mindset and are willing to embrace user research insights. Demonstrate domain expertise, what innovation looks like in the company’s field, and that you understand both the company’s mission and how to advocate for the end-user.
  4. Get ready to network. Although Austin has many job openings for UX/UI designers, competition is fierce for those roles because many of them are at people’s “dream” companies (Google, Apple, Atlassian, Adobe), and there’s a large pool of qualified applicants from the surrounding area’s universities. This means that being skilled, earning a bachelor’s degree or equivalent, and having a few years of experience in UX/UI design isn’t always enough. Networking is an important part of getting a foot in the door in Austin—many recruiters have talked about the significance of making industry connections by attending meetups, proactively reaching out to companies and hiring managers to inquire about opportunities, and attending career fairs.

What kind of UX/UI design jobs are available in Austin?

Austin’s mix of corporate tech companies, venture-funded startups, and legacy institutions means that there are opportunities for UX/UI designers at any stage in their career.

Companies such as Google, Facebook, and Apple—known for their comprehensive internships and willingness to take on recent graduates—can be an ideal starting point for someone looking for a supportive design team in which to grow; startups hiring their first UX designers can offer opportunities for more experienced designers to take the reins and build out their own team; and institutions such as universities, local and state governments, and energy providers can give UX designers a way of making an impactful difference through design. 

Companies currently hiring UX/UI designers in Austin have posted positions that span the experience spectrum. For example, B.well Connected Health, IBM, and Athena health all recently posted job listings for junior UX designers (1-3 years of experience), while companies such as Dell, Amazon, and Indeed sought UX designers with at least 5+ years of experience.

What companies are hiring UX/UI designers in Austin?

Some Austin-based companies (or companies with Austin outposts) that are hiring UX/UI designers include:

  • Facebook
  • Google
  • Apple
  • Amazon
  • Dell
  • Whole Foods
  • Cloudflare
  • PayPal
  • IBM
  • eBay
  • Adobe
  • BioWare
  • Blizzard Entertainment
  • Nvidia
  • Indeed
  • Unity Technologies
  • Duo Security
  • Procore Technologies
  • BigCommerce
  • Affinipay
  • Giddy
  • Ascension
  • B.well Connected Health
  • Arrive Logistics
  • Athenahealth

UX/UI designer salary in Austin

UX/UI designers in Austin can make more than $90,000 a year, according to Glassdoor. 

Entry-level UX/UI designers in Austin earn an average base salary of around $69,045, with cash and stock bonuses that can range between $1,300-15,000.

Senior-level UX/UI designers in Austin earn an average base salary of around $91,574, with cash and stock bonuses that can range between $1,700-18,000.

UX/UI designer networking opportunities in Austin

There are many casual and formal UX/UI design groups and conferences held in Austin where designers can network, share career and collaboration opportunities, and post listings for UX designer jobs. Some of those groups include:

How to land an entry-level UX design job in Austin

Many entry-level UX/UI design jobs in Austin require candidates to know at least the basics of design—from familiarity with tools such as Sketch and Figma to knowing how to apply design thinking to solve a problem. These skills can be learned without any prior design or technical experience.

Springboard’s Introduction to Design offers a four-week crash course in the fundamentals needed to launch a career in UX/UI design. In addition to covering design tools, principles, and research, the course matches students with a dedicated industry expert mentor who offers both instruction and guidance on the best path into a career in UX/UI design. 

The course is a great way to get a taste of what it’s like to be a UX/UI designer at a fraction of the commitment. Those interested in going further can sign up for Springboard’s UX/UI Design Career Track, a comprehensive, flexible, and mentor-supported course that prepares every graduate for the competitive UX/UI job market.

Ready to switch careers to UI/UX Design?

Springboard offers a comprehensive UI/UX design bootcamp. No design background required—all you need is an eye for good visual design and the ability to empathize with your user. In the course, you’ll work on substantial design projects and complete a real-world externship with an industry client. After nine months, you’ll graduate with a UI/UX design mindset and a portfolio to show for it.

Check out Springboard's UI/UX Design Career Track to see if you qualify.

Not sure if UI/UX design is the right career for you?

Springboard now offers an Introduction to Design course. Learn what designers do on the job by working through a project with 1-on-1 mentorship from an industry expert. Topics covered include design tools, research, sketching, designing in high fidelity, and wireframing.

Check out Springboard’s Introduction to Design Course—enrollments are open to all!

Download our guide to UX design fundamentals

This 50-page guide will take you through the foundations of user experience, including information architecture, user experience, and user interface.

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