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Based on recent data gathered from employment agencies in the U.S. and Europe, it’s evident that the fervor in UX design hiring that surged in 2021 is now gradually stabilizing. This doesn’t necessarily spell doom; rather, it presents a nuanced picture of the employment landscape for UX professionals.
One of the major shifts observed is in salary structures. After an unprecedented hike in 2021, UX designers are experiencing a significant reduction in their compensation packages. This can be attributed to multiple factors, including economic volatility, the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and a noticeable trend towards remote work. Interestingly, this shift is making companies more cautious about bringing junior designers on board, which further challenges the traditional dynamics of the job market.
On the international scale, hiring local talent has become less viable for companies in the U.S. and Europe. Cost-effectiveness is now a primary concern for clients who are aware that many businesses are outsourcing work to countries where labor is cheaper. This trend poses a complex issue for those who have built their teams solely with local talent.
The Global Landscape of UX Salaries
According to statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for UX design and development roles is projected to grow by 23% from 2021 to 2031. While this points to a bright future in terms of job availability, the salary prospects are more complicated. For instance, in the United States, UX architects draw an average salary of $119,000 annually, whereas UI designers and product managers make around $92,000 and $119,000, respectively.
In the United Kingdom, the scenario for UX salaries is quite similar, with UX architects earning around $112,000, and UI designers making approximately $87,000 annually. In contrast, countries like Romania and Bulgaria offer much lower average salaries for similar roles, indicating a wide disparity in earnings across Europe.
Current state of UX Salaries
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (incidentally, one of Dorve UX’s clients), UX design and development positions are projected to increase by 23% between 2021 and 2031. This growth rate is much faster than the average for other fields, indicating a promising future in terms of job quantity. See the table below, extracted from their webpage (includes web development)
|Quick Facts: Web Developers and Digital Designers|
|2021 Median Pay||$78,300 per year|
$37.65 per hour
|Typical Entry-Level Education||Bachelor’s degree|
|Work Experience in a Related Occupation||None|
|Number of Jobs, 2021||197,100|
|Job Outlook, 2021-31||23% (Much faster than average)|
|Employment Change, 2021-31||45,400|
Salaries and their impact on product design costs and UX
The highest costs, of course, are in the United States. The average salary for a UX architect is $119,000 per year, while a UI designer makes $92,000 per year and a product manager makes $119,000 per year. The average salary for a product designer in the U.S. is $95,000 per year, and a UX analyst earns an average of $85,000 per year.
UX Salary Trends in Europe
Another good example of high wages is the UK, where the average salary for a UX architect is $112,000 per year, while a UI designer earns $87,000 per year and a product manager earns $112,000 per year. The average salary for a product designer in the UK is $89,000 per year, and a UX analyst earns an average of $79,000 per year. As a side note, the UK is one of the countries where UXers have taken the biggest pay cuts.
Based on new data from global recruitment agency Aquent, the job market in the UK’s design sector is stabilizing after a period of rapid growth due to the pandemic. This stabilization is leading to more regular patterns of salary growth in most areas. However, UX design roles have seen a significant reduction in salary compared to the sharp increases in 2021. Economic uncertainty and the shift to remote work are causing companies to hesitate in hiring junior talent.
Inflation is also impacting real-term salaries. Despite growth in many sectors, the 9.6% inflation rate means that many in marketing and creative roles are effectively earning less.
Salaries for UX designers have dropped up to 11% for junior roles, 12.5% for midweight roles, and as much as 33% for senior positions. In contrast, account directors and freelance UX specialists are seeing an increase in their compensation.
Continuing demand is evident in video, motion graphics, and 3D animation. Senior roles in these areas have seen salary increases up to 25%, while junior and midweight roles are also growing.
Junior designers, however, continue to face challenges in 2023. Companies are showing a preference for hiring more experienced workers who are better adapted to remote and hybrid working conditions.
UX Design in UK: Salaries are declining
In the rest of Europe, UX Design salaries are generally lower: the average salary for a UX architect is $90,000 per year, while a UI designer earns $70,000 per year and a product manager earns $90,000 per year. The average salary for a product designer in the EU is $77,000 per year and a UX analyst earns an average of $68,000 per year.
Salaries for UX positions are generally lower in European countries compared to their North American counterparts, with some exceptions like Switzerland and Norway. In Switzerland, a UX architect can earn as much as $150,000 per year, while in Norway, the figure hovers around $135,000 for the same position.
However, not all countries on the continent follow this trend. Romania and Bulgaria, for example, offer substantially lower compensation. UX architects in these countries earn an average of $40,000 and $45,000 per year, respectively.
Specifically, the highest-paying country in Europe for UX design positions is Switzerland. There, the average salary for a UX architect is $150,000 per year. A UI designer earns around $120,000 per year, and a product manager makes $150,000 per year. Product designers have an average salary of $130,000 per year, while UX analysts earn an average of $110,000 per year.
Following Switzerland, Norway is the next highest-paying country for UX positions in Europe. The average salary for a UX architect there is $135,000 per year. UI designers earn an average of $105,000 per year, and product managers make $135,000 per year. Product designers earn an average salary of $115,000 per year, while a UX analyst makes around $95,000 per year.
On the other end of the spectrum, the lowest-paying countries in Europe for UX design positions are Romania and Bulgaria. In Romania, the average salary for UX architects is $40,000 per year. UI designers earn $30,000 per year, and product managers make $40,000 per year. Product designers have an average salary of $35,000 per year, and UX analysts earn an average of $30,000 per year.
After Romania, Bulgaria is the next lowest-paying country in Europe for UX roles. UX architects have an average salary of $45,000 per year, UI designers earn $35,000 per year, and product managers make $45,000 per year. Product designers in Bulgaria earn an average of $40,000 per year, and UX analysts make around $35,000 per year.
Here is the data table with the information:
Now, the sums above are ON AVERAGE and there is a mix of large firms and small design firms. Freelancers are usually not included because official data is hard to come by, but good freelancers tend to earn more than corporate employees. Also keep in mind that salary can vary depending on location within the country, the size of the company, and the experience of the applicant.
It’s also important to look at this data in a global context, considering countries with emerging markets. In India, UX architects earn significantly less, with an average salary of $24,000 per year. The same goes for Southeast Asia and Latin America, where professionals earn even lower than their counterparts in Eastern Europe.
These numbers are averages, and it’s important to note that they can vary widely depending on several factors, including the company’s size, its location, and the candidate’s experience. Freelancers, who are often omitted from official statistics, tend to earn more than their salaried counterparts, adding another layer of complexity to the salary discussion.
Shifting Focus from Cheap to Affordable UX Design
While it’s tempting to think of lower UX salaries as indicative of “cheap” labor, it’s more nuanced than that. Many countries with lower average salaries, like those in Latin America, have a wealth of creative talent that should not be overlooked. Hence why we don’t said cheap, since it’s not cheap. Instead, we say affordable ux design, which seems similar, but it’s not the same
Globalization and its Effects in the UX Industry
According to Aquent’s annual salary guide, the stabilization in the job market is accompanied by a return to normal levels of salary growth across most sectors. However, UX design is a notable exception, as it has seen a significant pay cut when compared to the sharp rise in 2021. Aquent’s report indicates that this drop is a market correction or “rebalancing,” after the inflation of UX and UI salaries in the past years.
Moreover, inflation rates reaching 9.6%, according to ONS data, mean that the real-term pay cuts are affecting a wide range of creative and marketing talents, not just UX designers. Meanwhile, the demand for roles in video content, motion graphics, and 3D animation is still high, indicating a broader shift in the industry’s needs.
The most famous example is India. In this country the average salary for a UX architect is $24,000 per year (up to 1/7 of Switzerland), a UI designer earns $10,800 per year and a product manager $21,000 per year. The average salary for a Product Designer in India is $20,000 per year and a UX Analyst earns an average of $17,000 per year.
In Southeast Asia, average salaries are slightly lower. UX Architects earn around $30,000 per year, UI designers earn $8,000 per year, and a product manager earns $17,000 per year. The average salary of a product designer in Southeast Asia is $20,000 per year and a UX analyst earns an average of $16,000 per year.
Finally, we have Latin America (or LatAm for short).
Latin America is best known for its incredible amount of talented professionals in almost every field of creativity. And, of course, the wages are much lower than most countries in the world, which makes for more affordable UX design. To make the same comparison as above, we can talk about an average salary for a UX architect of about $22,000 per year, $18,000 per year for a highly skilled UI designer and $24,000 per year for product managers. The average salary of a product designer in Latin America is $20,000 per year and a UX analyst earns an average of $22,000 per year.
Here is the data table with some of the information (plus other positions):
|Position||UK||USA||India||Southeast Asia||Latin America||EU|
|UX Senior Designer||$88,200||$132,500||$24,000||$16,200||$18,000||$77,760|
|Principal UX Designer||$113,400||$225,000||$30,000||No Data||$30,000||$89,640|
|Director of UX Design||$123,480||$240,000||$48,000||$38,880||$52,000||$117,720|
|Vice President of UX Design||$151,200||$350,000||No Data||No Data||No Data||No Data|
Global UX and UI Salaries
The figures presented below may vary significantly from those discussed in previous sections. This discrepancy arises because the numbers here account for a broad range of positions—from internships to managerial roles—across all types of companies and salary structures. Despite these variations, the figures are still adequate for providing a general overview that allows for country-by-country ranking. All numbers have been rounded to the nearest whole number for easier comparison.
Average salary: US$37,000
In South Africa, larger cities like Pretoria, Johannesburg, and Cape Town offer the most competitive salaries. South Africa’s growing tech industry, including companies like Naspers, is contributing to an expanding UX market.
Average salary: US$63,000
Canada, particularly in cities like Toronto and Vancouver, has a bustling UX design community. Companies such as Shopify headquartered in Ottawa add to the range of UX design positions available.
Average salary: US$110,000
The United States offers a robust UX design market with varied salaries across different cities. From San Francisco’s tech-heavy market to New York’s diverse industries, opportunities abound. Major U.S. companies like Google, Apple, and Amazon headquartered in various cities contribute significantly to the job market for UX designers. Seattle, with companies like Microsoft, also offers lucrative positions. Please note that the expressed salary for UX designers is not reliable, all other sources are much lower, but that’s the data we got.
Asia & Oceania
Average salary: US$64,000
Australia’s UX design market is concentrated in major cities like Sydney and Melbourne. Companies like Atlassian in Sydney add to a diverse range of UX jobs available. Adelaide is another city experiencing rapid growth in the UX industry.
Average salary: US$76,000
China’s UX design market is concentrated in cities like Hong Kong, Beijing, and Shanghai. Shenzhen is emerging as a significant player, expected to grow in importance within the next two decades. Companies like Tencent and Alibaba significantly influence the UX landscape.
Average salary: US$57,000
New Zealand’s tech scene is notably active in Auckland, the country’s largest city. Companies like Xero, based in Wellington, offer competitive UX design roles and contribute to a market that extends beyond Auckland.
Average salary: US$48,000
France’s UX design community is primarily concentrated in Paris. Cities like Lyon, Marseille, and Toulouse are emerging as viable options, offering a balance between competitive salaries and a more affordable cost of living. French tech companies like BlaBlaCar and Dailymotion also offer roles for UX designers.
Average salary: US$58,000
Germany is another hotspot for UX design, especially in cities like Munich and Berlin. Berlin hosts European branches of tech giants like Mozilla and Google. Munich also has a large cluster of tech companies, making it an attractive location for UX professionals.
Average salary: US$66,000
The United Kingdom, particularly London, is a significant center for UX design. London’s Silicon Roundabout is a tech hub with a high demand for UX professionals. Companies like Deliveroo and Monzo, headquartered in London, contribute to this demand.
UX and UI Salary Landscape: What to expect?
In summary, the UX job market is undergoing a period of stabilization, marked by declines in salaries but countered by sustained demand for roles. Companies are adapting to these shifts in various ways, affecting employment patterns both locally and internationally. The landscape is varied, shaped by geographic location, the nature of the work, and the broader economic context. And as remote work becomes increasingly normalized, these trends are likely to continue evolving.
Meanwhile, companies like ours serve as an excellent choice for any business in search of high-quality yet affordable UX design. Consider this: if we’ve successfully catered to some of the top Fortune 100 companies, just think about the transformative impact we could have on your business.
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