The demand for UX professionals has skyrocketed in recent years as organizations realize the importance of understanding their users and making the most of UX and UI design. With the discipline’s maturation, it has branched out into different areas of specialization, creating user experience opportunities for those with backgrounds in design, engineering, information architecture, writing, and management.
In this guide to UX careers, you’ll find information on the types of UX jobs in high demand, the skills needed for each area of specialization, salary estimates, companies hiring, and tips on finding the right role for you.
1. UX Researcher
User experience researchers are the first port of call when organizations want to understand their users. The main focus of the profession is to gain insight into user needs, behavior, and motives through user research, usability tests, and user analyses, and to translate those findings into design and development recommendations.
- Skills: UX researchers can perform qualitative and quantitative research into user behavior; design, conduct, analyze, and report on usability tests; have a working knowledge of behavioral analysis and statistics; have strong communication and empathy, and can recruit participants for research experiments. They also need to be able to create user flows and journey maps, and mock-up wireframes.
- Duties: The work of UX researchers can be both proactive and reactive—in the former, researchers might try to understand the needs and goals of the user and formulate recommendations to product teams based on their findings; in the latter, they might respond to user feedback and conduct interviews to gain a better understanding of what’s working or not working for the user. Depending on the product or service, UX researchers will also observe how users interact with interfaces and relay their findings to user interface designers.
- Salary range: The average salary for an entry-level UX researcher is around $82,706, according to Glassdoor. The average salary for a senior-level UX researcher is around $119,889.
- Best suited for: UX researchers are akin to data scientists—they are analytical, critical thinkers, and creative problem-solvers. They are also good with people, are curious and open-minded, have strong soft skills, and have empathy for their research participants.
- Companies hiring: Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Spotify, HelloFresh, Verizon, ViacomCBS, Capital One, The Federal Reserve Bank, IBM, Etsy, Squarespace, Vanguard, Casper, Oscar, Walmart, Reddit, Oracle, Macy’s, Peloton, ZocDoc, The Walt Disney Company, and more.
2. UX Analyst/Usability Analyst
UX analysts, commonly known as usability analysts, share many of the same responsibilities as UX researchers, with one key difference: UX analysts have a greater focus on the usability requirements of a website, service, or product.
- Skills: Like UX researchers, UX analysts/usability analysts need to be able to perform qualitative and quantitative research to understand user behaviors. More importantly, though, they need to be analytical, comfortable backing up their findings with hard research, collaborative, and able to clearly identify and communicate usability requirements to product designers and engineers so that meaningful changes and improvements can be made.
- Duties: UX analysts/usability analysts are focused on user satisfaction. A large part of their job is to analyze user behaviors and interactions in order to understand what might make a product or service easier for a customer to use, and then communicate those insights to the product’s designers.
- Salary range: The average salary for an entry-level UX analyst/usability analyst is around $82,706, according to Glassdoor. The average salary for a senior-level UX analyst/usability analyst is around $107,473.
- Best suited for: Analytical and critical thinkers who are organized, have high attention to detail, and good at understanding a users’ needs.
- Companies hiring: United Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Dice, Columbia Bank, Department of the Treasury, DuPont, Oracle, The Washington Post, Aquent, The Hershey Company, Internal Revenue Services, Visa, JP Morgan, Delta Dental, KIA Motors America, Garmin, and more.
3. Product Designer
Where a UX designer prioritizes the needs of the user, a product designer has to take into account both the user and the organization’s business goals. In their line of work, product designers need to be champions for the user and optimize their designs for user satisfaction, while also understanding what the business challenges are, what affects business decisions, and the needs of different stakeholders. In this sense, they also perform the role of UX designers.
- Skills: Product designers can be thought of as “full-stack” designers—they’re multidisciplinary and can design with user experience in mind, create user interfaces and prototypes, code, problem-solve, and manage projects. In addition to having foundational design skills, they need to be well versed in incorporating UX research insights and recommendations into their designs, prototyping and iterating, and be strong communicators.
- Duties: Product designers oversee a product from start to finish—they understand the business objectives; identify problems with a product or service; develop solutions; and focus on the user experience, technical design, and marketing—all while staying within budget. At their core, product designers use design to solve problems.
- Salary range: The average salary for an entry-level product designer is around $91,760, according to Glassdoor. The average salary for a senior-level UX analyst/usability analyst is around $118,724.
- Best suited for: Conceptual thinkers who are collaborative, communicative, and strong problem-solvers, who like taking on a leadership role and are comfortable with decision-making and strategic planning.
- Companies hiring: Apple, Facebook, Google, Twitter, Vimeo, Discovery, Spotify, Square, Hinge, ViacomCBS, Lyft, ZocDoc, Citizen, Frame.io, Etsy, VSCO, The New York Times, Scribd, GrubHub, DocuSign, Ford Motor Company, Citrix, Squarespace, Morningstar, and more.
4. Human Factors Professional
Human factors professionals—also referred to as research scientists—use scientific methods to study human behavior so that the results can be used to design equipment, devices, products, and services that enhance productivity, usability, safety, and comfort. While most people might associate human factors professionals with fields such as ergonomics, organizations across different industries—from consumer tech to space travel—are bringing on human factors professionals to help them improve their workflows, evaluate user interface designs, and lead risk management efforts.
- Skills: Human factors professionals typically have backgrounds in psychology, computer science, ergonomics, sociology, or a related field. They are experienced in conducting scientific research with human subjects, performing in-depth data analysis, managing projects in accordance with regulatory guidelines, and evaluating user interfaces.
- Duties: Human factors professionals use scientific methods to analyze characteristics of human behavior and performance as it relates to the use of technology. This generally involves performing human factors research, working with other disciplines to identify customer needs, developing design recommendations, performing task and use error analyses, designing instructions for use, preparing regulatory submission materials, and determining post-market surveillance and training.
- Salary range: The average salary for an entry-level human factors professional is around $75,850, according to Glassdoor. The average salary for a senior-level human factors professional is around $106,483.
- Best suited for: Analytical, organized, socially perceptive problem solvers who are passionate about psychology, engineering, and technology.
- Companies hiring: SpaceX, Apple, Sony, Dataminr, Johnson & Johnson, US Department of Transportation, GSK, George Mason University, Biogen, Experis, Sprint, Regeneron, AstraZeneca, Siemens AG, Federal Aviation Administration, Lockheed Martin, Boeing Co, and more.
5. UX Manager
UX managers occupy a leadership role that requires them to nurture a design team, encourage collaboration, translate stakeholder needs to designers, and deliver business results to their organization. While they don’t tend to do any UX design or research themselves, they are akin to an orchestra conductor, ensuring that every designer, researcher, analyst, and developer is on the same page, working toward the same goals, and making necessary adjustments and compromises to achieve those goals.
- Skills: Like any kind of manager, UX managers need to be strong communicators, motivating leaders, and able to think strategically about aligning an organization’s business goals with the capabilities and values of the UX design team. UX managers also need to be able to translate business goals into design objectives, measure and evaluate the impact of their team’s work using analytics, and advocate for the work of their designers.
- Duties: Similar to product designers, UX managers balance the needs of the organization with the needs of the user. Where they differ is that UX managers must also lead a team and build a culture in which user-centered design aligns with the organization’s business and validation metrics. Day-to-day, they manage upward to secure the resources their team needs, liaise with project managers across the organization, and manage downward to ensure their team is supported, trained, and on task.
- Salary range: The average salary for an entry-level UX manager is around $104,517, according to Glassdoor. The average salary for a senior-level UX manager is around $133,995.
- Best suited for: Organized, strategic, collaborative, big-picture thinkers who can juggle the needs of both the company, users, and the design team, and can find a middle ground between stakeholders.
- Companies hiring: Google, Facebook, Etsy, Ford Foundation, Glossier, Peloton, Squarespace, FuboTV, The Walt Disney Company, CapitalOne, UnitedHealth Group, Qualtrics, Macy’s, Stripe, Samsung Electronics America, Twilio, ZenDesk, Amazon, Phillips, Peacock, Autodesk, Cisco, Best Buy, CVS Health, Nationwide Insurance, Federal Reserve Bank, Warner Media, and more.
6. UX Consultant
UX consultants are jack-of-all-trades whose skills overlap with other UX professionals. They are typically brought in because an organization wants an outsider to assess their UX strategy with fresh eyes and make recommendations. Unlike a UX designer role, where the UX specialist is responsible for the design itself, a UX consultant tells an organization what needs to be done.
- Skills: UX consultants possess both technical design knowledge and an understanding of how UX design can be used to solve business problems. They can prototype, create journey maps, perform user research, and establish metrics to measure UX efficacy, on the design front. On the business front, they’re able to zoom out and assess the broader ecosystem to identify hidden business problems, unmet needs, and unexplored opportunities.
- Duties: A UX consultant’s duties will vary depending on the reason they’ve been hired. For example, some UX consultants might be brought on to perform user research, audit products, and services, create and test prototypes, or train their clients in UX best practices. Others might be brought on to evaluate existing systems, highlight weaknesses and shortcomings, and make recommendations for improvements. Others yet will be responsible for helping solve specific business problems.
- Salary range: The average salary for an entry-level UX consultant is around $74,778, according to Glassdoor. The average salary for a senior-level UX consultant is around $96,051.
- Best suited for: Analytical, big-picture thinkers who like identifying and solving business problems, and who enjoy new challenges and working with different companies and teams.
- Companies hiring: Infosys, Wells Fargo, SAP, Equifax, Hermitage Infotech, J.P. Morgan, NCR Technosolutions, Appian, Guidehouse, SonSoft Inc., Confidential, BlueSky Commerce, and more.
7. Information Architect
Information architects can be thought of as the ultimate organizers on a UX design team—they create structure and flows for websites, products, services, and apps; they plot out categories, hierarchies, site maps, and metadata; and they’re responsible for laying the groundwork for helping users find information and complete tasks.
- Skills: The skills of an information architect overlap with UX designers, consultants, and content strategists in that all three are analytical, organized, and capable of developing labeling systems, navigation systems, and search systems. Information architects go a step further by also being skilled in search schemas, metadata, and taxonomy.
- Duties: Information architects analyze the results of user research and usability tests, use those results to create navigation structures and hierarchies, sketch out wireframes to help designers understand the connections they’ve drawn, label information, and map data to existing structures. Their role is collaborative and they often work alongside UX researchers, content strategists, and UX designers.
- Salary range: The average salary for an entry-level information architect is around $94,452, according to Glassdoor. The average salary for a senior-level information architect is around $121,244.
- Best suited for: Analytical, organized thinkers who can see the big picture and focus on the details, and who care about labeling and language. Effective communicators who enjoy collaboration can also thrive in this role.
- Companies hiring: S&P Global, Citi, Shutterfly, Nike, Inc., General Motors, Adobe, FedEx, Starbucks, Lockheed Martin, Regeneron, CVS Health, Walgreens, Marsh & McLennan, Sedgewick, Komodo Health, Stanford Healthcare, and more.
8. UX Developer
If the UX designer is the person who plans, prototypes, and wireframes products and services, the UX developer is the person who uses their coding skills and understanding of user interface design to implement those designs. Of all the UX design jobs, UX developers are the most focused on coding and execution of the final product—they work on front-end development, and tweak layouts to meet user needs.
- Duties: UX developers plan, design, and develop websites and apps using visual design tools and code. They often work alongside UX designers and researchers to understand the organization’s business goals, users’ needs, along with the problems that need solving. They use their skill set to implement the prototypes and designs their team members have created.
- Salary range: The average salary for an entry-level UX developer is around $66,661, according to Glassdoor. The average salary for a senior-level UX developer is around $84,733.
- Best suited for: Strong coders and graphic designers who are communicative, collaborative, and care about optimizing products and services for customers.
- Companies hiring: AirBnB, Google, Infosys, Labcorp, M&T Bank, Jobot, Goldman Sachs, Empyrean Benefit Solutions, Peloton, Capstone IT, Stanford University, eSalon, Quest Diagnostics, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, MLWIZ Inc., Roomster, and more.
9. Visual Designer
Visual designers turn a UX designer’s wireframes and prototypes into visual designs that are user-friendly and adhere to brand guidelines. The role is similar to that of a UX developer, although where developers employ coding and development tools to implement the designs, visual designers are more focused on graphic design and use visual elements to solve UX problems.
- Skills: Graphic design skills, proficiency with design tools such as InVision, Sketch, Adobe Photoshop, and Adobe Illustrator, and a strong sense of aesthetics are important skills to any visual designer.
- Duties: Visual designers are responsible for the graphical user interface of a website or app and make decisions ranging from fonts, colors, and images, to identifying visual design solutions that can increase engagement and user-friendliness. Visual designers work alongside UX researchers and UX designers to understand the goals of the organization, the needs of the user, and the kinds of designs that can satisfy both.
- Salary range: The average salary for an entry-level UX visual designer is around $47,418, according to Glassdoor. The average salary for a senior-level visual designer is around $86,602.
- Best suited for: Visual thinkers and graphic designers who like to use design and aesthetics to solve problems.
- Companies hiring: Amazon, Apple, Google, Bank of America, Microsoft, Philips, Bloomberg, CLEAR, KPMG, Accenture, General Motors, Aquent, Viacom, Harry’s, Blue Apron, Riot Games, Deloitte, Allstate Insurance Company, GE, Roku, Coffee Meets Bagel, Platejoy, US Bank, Magic Leap, and more.
10. UX Writer
UX writers write all the copy that a user encounters when they visit a website or an app, from sign-up and login, prompts to error messages. They combine copywriting skills with an understanding of the audience they’re writing for, the goals of the organization, and the kinds of actions they want the user to perform.
- Skills: Strong written communication and the ability to write concise, clear, and tonally appropriate copy are a must. UX copywriters also need to factor in the findings and insights from UX research to come up with a copy that guides the user through the product. Being analytical with strong attention to detail are also useful skills in this role.
- Duties: UX writers collaborate with UX researchers to understand the audience they’re writing for, analyze existing product copy to identify areas that can be improved, and ensure that all prompts, commands, and text on a website or in an app are clear and consistent with the brand’s voice and identity.
- Salary range: The average salary for an entry-level UX writer is around $74,778, according to Glassdoor. The average salary for a senior-level UX writer is around $96,051.
- Best suited for: Those who have a love of words, are passionate about clear and concise communication, understand the power of storytelling, and are interested in using data to support their copywriting strategy.
- Companies hiring: Google, Facebook, Amazon, Spotify, Apple, E*Trade, Uber, Lyft, American Express, Microsoft, Peloton, Lemonade, The New York Times, Lumen, Vimeo, fuboTV, Gusto, Spectrum, Getty Images, Quicken Loans, Rent The Runway, iHerb, Ogilvy, General Motors, Compass, Spokeo, Aquent, Cisco, Verizon, SiriusXM, Thomson Reuters, Stitch Fix, Returnly, and more.
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