How to Become a UX/UI designer in Seattle

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 Seattle.

ux designer seattle

Seattle is among the top U.S. cities for UX/UI designers, behind only New York City and San Francisco when it comes to the number of job opportunities and salary potential. 

Although it’s a city dominated by Amazon and Microsoft—both of which are on hiring sprees for UX/UI design talent and routinely offer salary and benefits packages exceeding $120,000—Seattle is beginning to diversify its UX/UI design opportunities.

Companies such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, Disney, HP, and Oracle are growing their bases in Seattle, and local corporations such as Starbucks, Nintendo, Bungie, Zillow, Expedia, and PopCap Games continue to build their design and technology teams. Seattle is also home to many boutique UX design and branding agencies, which means more variety and opportunities for creative professionals. 

Compared to the design-driven companies of the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle’s biggest players, like Amazon and Microsoft, are better known for having engineer-driven cultures. That said, the city’s tech and gaming firms have wizened up to the importance of UX/UI design and have in recent years started to play catch-up with their Californian counterparts by offering designers high salaries, job stability, and ample opportunities, propelling Seattle into the top five job markets for UX/UI designers, according to InVision.

How to become a UX/UI designer in Seattle

There’s no set path to becoming a UX/UI designer in San Francisco, 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. Despite being an Amazon and Microsoft-centric city, Seattle is also home to video game studios such as Nintendo, Big Fish Games, Bungie, and PopCap; food service corporations such as Starbucks and Tully’s Coffee; and internet companies such as the WhitePages and AllRecipes.com. This means that when you’re applying to a UX design job, you’ll need to consider the specific experiences and needs of the user and the goals of the product or service. Show that you can both understand an organization’s mission and be an advocate for the user.
  4. Consider Amazon and Microsoft. There are many different companies and industries in Seattle, but none hire UX/UI designers at the scale of Amazon and Microsoft. In addition to having the most openings for designers, the two tech giants also offer on average higher salaries, more perks and benefits, and job security. It’s not unusual for a UX/UI designer working in Seattle to do a stint at either company before moving on to a different firm, and there are plenty of upsides to it: at companies as large as Amazon and Microsoft, a UX/UI designer gets to work in a team environment, strengthen their communication and interpersonal skills, solve problems and deal with complex concepts at scale, and gain experience working on deliverables alongside those in a related field. Because of this, anyone wanting to land a UX/UI design role in Seattle should keep both companies in mind.

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

Amazon and Microsoft are the two biggest employers in Seattle, so it’s not unusual for UX/UI designers to build their careers by hopping between the two. And while both organizations offer ways for a UX/UI designer to climb the ranks, from internships to roles in management, UX/UI designers in Seattle have a range of options when it comes to the kind of company they want to work for and the ways they can both develop and flex their experience.

For example, Costco, Qualtrics, and Expedia all recently posted job listings in the Seattle area for junior UX designers (1-3 years of experience), while companies such as Zulily, Big Fish Games, Bungie, and PopCap sought UX designers with at least 5+ years of experience. 

Many Silicon Valley technology companies such as Facebook, Google, and Salesforce also have a significant outpost in Seattle, along with a range of IT, cloud computing, and e-commerce startups. All of this means that, contrary to the common narrative of there only being two large companies in Seattle to work for, there are actually many more opportunities spanning different industries and businesses.

What companies are hiring UX/UI designers in Seattle?

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

  • Amazon
  • Microsoft
  • Nintendo
  • Bungie
  • Big Fish Games
  • PopCap Games
  • Costco Wholesale
  • Expedia
  • Zillow
  • Redfin
  • Convoy
  • Pitchbook
  • Chewy
  • Flexe
  • Google
  • Facebook
  • Salesforce
  • DP World
  • Niantic
  • The Pokémon Company International
  • Photon
  • Alaska Airlines
  • REI
  • Zulily

UX/UI designer salary in Seattle

UX/UI designers in Seattle make twelve percent above the national U.S. average, according to Glassdoor. 

Entry-level UX/UI designers in Seattle earn an average base salary of around $83,476, with cash and stock bonuses that can range between $1,600-18,000.

Senior-level UX/UI designers in Seattle earn an average base salary of around $107,449, with cash and stock bonuses that can range between $2,000-22,000.

UX/UI designer networking opportunities in Seattle

There are many casual and formal UX/UI design groups and conferences held in Seattle 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 Seattle

Many entry-level UX/UI design jobs in Seattle 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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