When people think of a user experience (UX) designer, they create a mental image of a non-technical person, who is engaged in crafting the final look and feel of a product. The role is stereo-typed into one that is linked to arts and aesthetics.
However UX design has evolved into much more in recent years, leading to an expansion of the UX designer job description. It includes visual design, information architecture, usability, interaction design, user research and content strategy.
What is UX Design ?
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) defines user experience as “a person’s perceptions and responses that result from the use and anticipated use of a product, system or service.”
The User Experience Professionals Association describes UX product development as a process that incorporates direct user feedback throughout the development cycle to reduce costs while creating products that meet user needs and are easy to use.
From the above definitions, it is clear that a non-techie professional can participate meaningfully in every aspect of the business and development process as a UX designer.
The growth in jobs for UX professionals is expected to rise 14.9 percent over the next 10 years. At the moment, according to labour analytics platform Burning Glass, “the average time required for filling a UI or UX position is 41 days—pretty high, and indicative of strong demand.”
No wonder there is great interest in UX design as a career role and the youth are asking, “how to become a UX designer?” or “how to start learning UX design?” and “how long does it take to be a UI designer?”
Average Salary of a UX Designer in India
According to compensation data company, Payscale.com, the average salary of a UX designer in India is ₹6,95,863. Surprised? Well, it is the sheer demand that is notching up salaries and with ₹4,41,375 as a UX designer starting salary, the question uppermost in the minds of professionals just starting out on their design careers is, how to become a UX designer in India!
This is largely because the salary levels record a decent growth over the years as seen in the graph below:
With digital transformation overtaking most enterprises, UX is integral to software development and technological interfaces such as apps and websites. The widespread need for a positive UX across fintech, publishing, automotives and consumer durable segments has pushed up the demand in other industry segments as well.
Not just human-computer interactions, good UX is also necessary for man-machine interfaces that involve machines other than computers –typically, heavy machinery, hand tools, operator controls and process controls. Industry estimates reveal the
following pattern in salary levels across segments:
No matter which industry segment, a UX designer has to ensure that the customer experience lives up to expectations. This means paying attention to customer psychology, user perception, user response and ergonomics while also taking along engineers who write code and collaborating with business leads who strategize company goals.
Full-Stack Design Skills in Demand
This holistic approach to UX design is called full-stack design and practitioners across the globe command high salaries. After all they combine UX/UI skills with product design and business skills too. They have thorough knowledge of:
UX designers are also adept at product design. They have expertise in:
It is because of these very specific skills together with business design skills and suitable personality traits that UX designers are now in demand. Take a look at the following table for a snapshot view of salary levels of a UX designer in the US, UK and India, based on experience levels:
User Experience Designer Salaries in the US, UK and India in 2020
Entry or >1
Early or 1-4
Mid-level or 5-9
Senior-level or 10-19
Cities that Pamper UX Designers
In India, the IT city of Bangalore pays UX designers 19.8% more than the national average. It is also where Asia’s first Institute for Product Leadership is located and has launched a full-stack design course.
Gurgaon in Haryana pays 16.6 % more, while Delhi pays 12% more. Pune and Mumbai in Maharashtra offer 7% and 2% more respectively. According to data from Payscale, UX designers are paid the lowest salaries across Chennai, Tamil Nadu (8.1% less) and Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh (4.5% less).
In the US, San Francisco is seen as the Mecca for UX design. The Bay Area which houses the biggest names like Google, Tesla and Twitter pays UX designers an annual average salary of $128,000 per year, and also hosts premier design events like Awwwards, An Event Apart, Apple WWDC and Google I/O. IDEO, which applies design thinking to every product is also located here.
San Diego in California makes a generous payout of $114,424.
According to a listing by Adobe Xd,Seattle in Washington sees an annual average salary of $109,000 paid to UX designers who may be employed by the likes of Microsoft and Amazon.
Redmond in Washington posts an average annual salary of $102,710, according to Indeed.com
Boston in Massachusetts ($105,000), New York ($104,000), Chicago ($105,000) and Austin in Texas ($103,000) are also drawing UX designers with good annual salaries.
In European tech hub Dublin in Ireland, junior UX designers earn a salary between €30,000 – €45,000, mid-level UX designers are paid €45,000 – €60,000 and a senior UX designer commands between €60,000 – €80,000, according to a salary survey by recruitment agency, Morgan McKinley.
In Berlin, Germany, the average UX designer salary is €50,894 as per Payscale findings.
Toronto and Montreal in Canada are also good professional destinations for UX designers, going by the average salary levels on employer review site, Glassdoor.
Based on over 180 salary details submitted to this site, a UX designer in London, England earns £ 41,388 per year on an average.
Countries like Japan, Sweden, Israel and China are also making their presence felt in the design world.
Which Companies are Hiring?
UX designers are being hired by big product companies, small startups as well as agencies which handle multiple projects. Among them, software, Internet, banking and investment and telecom companies like Microsoft, Amazon, SAP, Google, Salesforce, Adobe, Cisco Systems, LinkedIn, Apple,VMWare,ServiceNow, Yahoo, Autodesk, Fidelity Investments, PayPal, JP Morgan, Verizon, Deloitte, IBM and AKQA are listed by Glassdoor as top companies hiring for the role.
In India, Paypal has identified Amazon, Microsoft, IBM, The Walt Disney Company, Accenture, SAP Labs India, TCS Ltd, Infosys, Cognizant Technologies Solution as the leading companies who hire and pay UX designers well.
However, it must be stressed that salaries are also impacted by skill sets and level of experience –either specialized in one domain or vertical, or generalized but spread across functions.
The size of the company hiring also alters salaries as seen in the table below:
Skills That Command Higher Salaries
According to LinkedIn, UX design is perched half way down the list of top ten hard skills that companies need most in 2020. It comes after blockchain, cloud computing, analytical reasoning, artificial intelligence. UX design which is fifth, is followed by business analysis, affiliate marketing, sales, scientific computing and video production.
There are many roles in UX design ranging between junior, middle and senior levels. The nature of work and salary payable depends on the size of the company, the domain as well as the importance attached to UX.
Skills related to UX design, user research and interaction design are linked to higher salaries, according to trends spotted by Payscale in India. This apart, Adobe Illustrator, HTML5, usability testing, wireframing cascading style sheets, user research are valued skills.
Suffice to say, interface design, graphic design and web design by themselves are not enough to rake in the moolah.
Skills in strategy and information architecture will boost the salary of a lead UX designer, while a design manager may earn more for people management, project management and engineering skills.
Globally though, especially in the US, skills are clearly categorized as necessary (basic), defining (day-to-day) and distinguishing (specialized) is most job postings. Here is a ready reference:
Business Design Skills Also Required
Hard and soft skills related to UX activities are not enough to make the cut though. If you are dreaming of a great design career path that will take you places, remember that all those companies investing in UX and focusing on innovation are equally interested in the viability of design.
It is not enough to ensure desirability and feasibility to solve customer problems with innovative solutions. That is where business design skills come into play. It calls for using the design methodology, design mindset and business tools to solve business challenges.
Knowing how to design business and revenue models is part of business strategy and UX designers are now expected to contribute to monetization too. Hiring managers are hence looking for these skills.
While many UX designers have learnt some skills on the job, most of them also return to textbooks to learn about product design vs UX design and how to become a UX architect.
Full-stack design is however not taught even in the best UX design courses in Bangalore. To master UX, UI, product and business design it is better to look for self-paced learning programs that stress on learning by doing.
Choose the Right Learning Partner
Here are some simple steps you should take to bag one of those plum jobs in UX design, command a high salary and enjoy all the worldly comforts that you deserve after working hard for your success.
Look for a full stack design program that gives you integrated training into all the aspects of full-stack design.
If you are planning to improve your UX design skills, do not make the mistake of signing up for a digital learning program without real-world experience.
Always find out if the design program you are signing up for has faculty members who are industry practitioners too.
It will also help you better, if you are part of a vibrant design community. So make sure you are getting into a place with a strong alumni network.
Unless you work on projects, develop a strong portfolio and get an opportunity to present your project-based learnings to hiring managers, your learning efforts will not yield complete results. Is the design program you are evaluating, prepared to provide that kind of exposure and training?
You should also get ample opportunities to present to a live audience to display and demonstrate your UX skills.
You don’t have to look far though. Institute of Product Leadership offers the International Certification in User Experience (Flex) Program.
Included in it is a 1:1 coaching with design practitioners. In addition there is a career guidance team to help you plot your career graph.
The program also comprises monthly skill hackathons. For those interested in taking on leadership roles, bonus courses on UX management and UX strategy are a ready option.
You can check out the details here.