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How Much Do UX Designers Make? 2021 UX/UI Salary Report

salary May 07, 2021

UX Design Salary Overview

Exploring a new career path requires considerable soul-searching. You might ask yourself, will I enjoy this work? Do my skills and talents make sense in this industry? At some point, however, students and career changers must buckle down and ask the tough question: will this job pay me well?

If you are thinking about a career in user experience or user interface design, you’re in luck. As of 2021, workers in UX design tend to be well compensated, even at the entry-level. Here is a quick overview of typical UX design salaries at different levels of experience from Payscale:

 Entry Level (<1 year of experience) $63,000/year

Junior Level (1-4 years of experience) $72,000/year

Mid-Level (5-9 years of experience) $84,000/year

Senior Level (10+ years of experience) $96,000-$99,000/year

Average Base Salary $74,500/year

 It is important to note that UX/UI design and related fields are relatively new and not clearly defined. As such, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not report specific salary data for UX designers. 

To add to the confusion, different sources provide different salary estimates for UX designers. Some sources, such as Payscale, report entry-level UX designer salaries at around $64,000 a year. However, DICE writes that some lucky UX designers can start out making over $100,000 a year. Different companies also use different pay thresholds when hiring UX designers. 

Despite these disparities, one trend remains clear: with experience, UX professionals have the potential to generate six-figure incomes. 

So how can newcomers to the world of UX/UI tap into this potential? Learning what to expect is the first step toward a rewarding (and lucrative) career. Keep reading to take a closer look at UX design salary statistics and trends. 

Let’s get this guac!

 

UX Design Salary by Location

UX/UI salaries tend to vary based on location. While you may expect that the high-paying UX opportunities would be concentrated in Silicon Valley or New York City, data from Indeed tells a slightly different story. According to Indeed’s analysis, UX designers in Charlotte, North Carolina were the best paid, with an average base pay of around $109,000 a year. 

That being said, cities in Silicon Valley like Mountain View also reported some of the highest salary bases. Ziprecruiter listed San Mateo and Richmond California as the top two highest-paying cities for UX/UI. 

Here is a compiled list of the top states and cities that pay UX designers well. These places are not listed in any order; rather, they represent a collection of locations that consistently rank highly for base UX/UI salaries: 

Top-Paying States and Cities for UX Designers

California

  • San Mateo ($127,029, ZipRecruiter)
  • San Francisco ($112,257, ZipRecruiter)
  • Richmond ($118,766, ZipRecruiter)
  • Mountain View ($109,259, Indeed)
  • San Diego ($102,204, Indeed)

New York

  • Brooklyn ($113,910, ZipRecruiter)
  • New York City ($101,804, Indeed)

Washington

  • Bellevue ($115,371, ZipRecruiter)
  • Seattle ($109, 244, Adobe)
  • Redmond ($106,573, Indeed)

Other Good Cities for UX/UI Designers

  • Charlotte, North Carolina ($109,965, Indeed)
  • Stamford, Connecticut ($115,648, ZipRecruiter)
  • Boston, Massachusetts ($102,859, Indeed)
  • Chicago, Illinois ($96,292, Adobe)
  • Austin, Texas ($101,964, Adobe)
  • Paterson, New Jersey ($110,825, ZipRecruiter)

 

The best-paying cities vary slightly by data source, but overall these numbers are quite similar across the country. A designer looking to earn the big bucks can choose can choose from many different metropolises.

A word of caution: while these salaries might be similar, cities can have vastly different numbers of opportunities available. Before moving 2,000 miles to chase your UX dreams, be sure to scope out the job market and consider local living expenses. Better yet, have an offer in hand before you board a plane! 

 

UX Design Salaries in Other Countries

In the United States, UX base salaries range between $75,000 and $100,000 annually. Our friends in Europe, Asia, Australia, Canada, and South America can generally expect lower salaries, except for Switzerland. According to UXDesignerSalaries.com, Switzerland outranked the U.S. with an average annual salary of $100,890. 

UX Salaries by Country

Country Survey Submissions Average Salary

Switzerland 51 $100,890

United States 790 $97,153

Australia 69 $76,194

United Kingdom 214 $62,137

Canada 119 $60,758

Germany 254 $60,379

Sweden 58 $54,204

All Countries 3743 $52,683

 

UX/UI Design Career Outlook— Why is UX in Demand?

Like nearly all careers in tech, the UX job outlook for the next decade is promising, and UX-related skills are in high demand. According to a recent LinkedIn report, companies ranked UX design fifth among their top-ten most desired hard skills. 

Additionally, according to a 2019 Salary Guide from OnwardSearch, product design, UX design, and UI design were the top three most in-demand skills. These professions outranked marketing analytics managers, frontend developers, social media managers, and 13 other related (and still in-demand) professions. 

Long story short: companies want to hire people who know UX/UI!

While no one can predict the future, industry trends suggest that demand for UX/UI professionals will not wane anytime soon. In fact, the UX/UI job market was forecast to grow 22% between 2018-2028. At the time of writing, there were over 22,000 open UX roles in the United States posted on Indeed and Glassdoor combined. In 2021 and beyond, employers will continue to post fresh UX/UI openings for job seekers.   

Unlike some careers, UX/UI work is not limited to a specific type of company or even a specific industry. Startups and established companies alike value these talents, which helps create a strong UX job market. The CX Lead reports that companies of all sizes currently seek UX/UI designers, from those with fewer than 50 employees to tech giants with over 10,000 workers. 

So why are UX/UI designers in demand? Put simply, there are billions of websites and millions of mobile applications in existence. Someone has to make sure they all work! If a user can’t navigate a digital interface, they won’t return, and they definitely won’t make a purchase. UX/UI professionals keep users, and customers, coming back for more. 

Savvy businesses know that customer loyalty is essential for success. That’s why they hire UX/UI professionals. 

 

UX Design Salary by Job Title

One of the best parts of working in UX/UI is the sheer variety of career paths you can pursue. Those who are interested in this field can find a niche role that plays to their unique strengths. From strategy to writing to research, the different types of UX/UI career paths are nearly endless.

With many unique UX/UI specializations comes many different starting wages. Some roles are in more demand than others, and specialized UX/UI skills, such as voice UX design, can bump up a candidate’s compensation package. 

Before deciding your preferred flavor of UX/UI, consider the pay differences among these roles. You may be only one or two skills away from a higher salary and a new title!

 

UX Designer

What does a UX Designer Do? 

Perhaps the best-known user experience role is the UX designer. User experience designers work iteratively to identify and address product users’ pain points following a cyclic design process. Their work can include wireframing, prototyping, and user testing. 

UX Designer Salary: 

According to Payscale, the average UX base pay is about $74,522 a year.  

  

UI Designer

What does a UI Designer Do? 

While UX designers conceptualize pathways and frameworks for users to interact with a product, user interface (UI) designers bring those ideas to life. UI designers focus specifically on refining digital interactions, optimizing each touchpoint to make effective and delightful digital products. 

UI Designer Salary:

Payscale reports that the average UI designer base salary is $64,757 per year. 

 

Product Designer 

What Does a Product Designer Do? 

Product design is the broader, older cousin of UX/UI design. Product design is related to industrial design, and rather than focusing purely on the user’s needs, it considers other factors related to a product’s success, such as cost-effectiveness and efficiency. 

Product Designer Salary:

Payscale reports that the average product designer base salary is $84,422 per year.

 

UX Researcher

What does a UX Researcher Do? 

UX researchers work to better understand user needs through testing, interviews, and other investigations. They define the pain points of end-users, then synthesize and report their findings to the team. By understanding and advocating for user needs throughout the design process, UX researchers keep projects grounded, resulting in a more effective final product.  

UX Researcher Salary: 

According to Payscale, UX researchers make an average base salary of $87,818 per year. 

 

UI Architect

What does a UI Architect Do? 

UI architects organize the way digital interfaces present information to make them more logical and useful. They work alongside UX/UI designers to help bring structure and flow to a complex product.  

UI Architect Salary: 

Glassdoor reports that the average base pay for a UI architect is $123,852 per year.  

 

UX Writer

What does a UX Writer Do? 

UX writers oversee the textual elements of a digital product and work to optimize them throughout the design process. They ensure that all written content (such as microcopy, instructions, emails, and more) provides clear navigation and a pleasant experience for users.

UX Writer Salary

According to Glassdoor, the average base bay for UX writers is $108,807 per year.

 

UX Strategist

What does a UX Strategist Do?

This role embraces a big-picture mindset. Rather than considering the user’s needs alone, the UX strategist makes design decisions based on the market. They work to determine how improving user experience can help a product, and a business, succeed. UX researchers often work across many teams to synthesize goals, collaborating with designers and stakeholders alike.

 UX Strategist Salary

Glassdoor reports that the average base pay for UX strategists is $96,943 per year.

 

Beyond Salary: Other Perks of a UX/UI Career

Many individuals pivot their careers to UX/UI simply because it pays well. Obviously, salary matters.

Still, it’s worth noting the non-salary upsides of starting a career in UX design. The first major perk of a UX/UI career is the relatively low barrier to entry. This path does not demand nearly a decade of formal education, unlike other high-paying careers. 

UX careers also provide job satisfaction. A 2018 analysis from MeasuringU found that UX professionals had a 72% job satisfaction score, placing them among some of the happiest workers around. While plenty of stress exists in any career, UX professionals get to enjoy creative, meaningful work surrounded by a team of like-minded go-getters.  

Another UX career perk is flexibility. Like many tech jobs, much of the UX/UI design process is computer-based work that can be done individually. The forward-thinking and tech-savvy culture of the UX field means that many UXers can work from home.

A final, oft-forgotten UX career perk: the chance to learn and grow! UX/UI careers are always changing. With new tools, trends, and strategies emerging every year, UX professionals get to evolve with the field. Boredom is rare in such a creative and dynamic line of work. 

  

Breaking Into UX Design 

How Long Does it Take to Become a UX/UI Designer?

At this point, UX/UI may sound too good to be true. A great salary and enjoyable work? Surely there must be a catch! 

We’re happy to say there is no catch. UX/UI jobs are really out there waiting to be filled by talented people like you. 

However, major career changes don’t happen overnight. Employers in any industry can be hesitant to extend offers, even to extremely qualified entry-level candidates. As such, landing your first UX/UI position can be tricky.

But tricky does not mean impossible. At Avocademy, we’ve found that consistent, focused effort works. With the help of a UX mentorship program or UX bootcamp, students land an entry-level UX job within seven months to a year. Our Avocademy mentees often go on to earn salaries between $75,000 - $90,000, significantly boosting their income in a short timeframe.

 

Ready to Make the Leap? Schedule a Free Mentorship Call!

We love UX/UI, and we love helping people find their place in this field. If you’re ready to set up your free UX mentoring appointment, schedule a call!

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