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19 Oct

What determines my UX designer salary?

User Experience (UX) designers are highly sought after in a wide array of industries, from computer and software companies such as Apple, Microsoft and Adobe to popular websites such as LinkedIn, Google and Amazon. You can enjoy a highly paid career with an investment company, major retailer or entertainment firm. A glance at Glassdoor’s Top Companies Hiring for User Experience Designer Jobs shows that virtually every type of organization, from universities and corporations to governmental agencies, needs the services of a UX designer.1

In 2020, this growing field offers a mid-level salary of $96,250.2

Preparation for a lucrative career as a UX designer requires specialized training. While there are many online ‘bootcamps’ that can get you up to speed as a computer programmer, a career as a UX designer needs more than that. UX design requires a deep understanding of the user experience, and skills such as concept development and high-level strategic thinking.

This post will explore some key skills needed in this work, and multiple influences on salary throughout a career in UX design.

Interconnected: User Experience and User Interface Design

UX design and User Interface (UI) design sound like similar types of jobs, but there are important distinctions between them.

UX-vs-UI-Designer-Image

UX designers define goals and work on strategy which informs the design, building prototypes and creating wireframes. They conduct research and usability testing to see what works best with actual users.3 A UX designer’s job description generally includes user research, design and planning, writing copy, usability testing and presenting the design solution.4,5

UI designers focus on the aesthetics of the user interface, such as the menu appearance and button styles. They work with visual interface design, interaction, animation, and front-end development. They take the concepts and strategies from the UX designer and apply them visually.6 UI designers create interactive web pages and programs that improve the customer’s experience. Their focus includes product or page layout, coding knowledge and attention to brand identity, a cohesive style, design convenience and attractiveness.5,7

A UI designer is typically paid less than a UX designer—approximately $76,115 compared to $85,277, according to Glassdoor.6,8

In recent years, the lines between these two sets of responsibilities have begun to blur. Many companies want to hire design professionals with technical background and strong research and analytic ability. Must-have skills for UX designers now include user research and testing, user empathy, collaboration with strategists and developers, UI prototyping and wireframing, microcopy writing, interaction design, coding, UI design skills, analytics and communication.9

The Influence of Location on Salary

UX-Designer-Salaries-Around-US

UX design salaries in the United States vary widely, from $45,000 to $155,000.10 States with the highest salaries include New York ($108,388), Massachusetts ($107,363), and Washington, ($106,614).11 Cities offering the highest salaries include San Francisco, Los Angeles and Sunnyvale, California; Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Seattle. UX designers can also earn more than $100,000 a year in Boulder, Minneapolis, Chicago and Baltimore.12

In some southern states, the salaries are lower. This includes North Carolina ($79,492), Florida ($83,481), Missouri ($85,423), Mississippi ($85,624) and Alabama ($86,500).13 It’s worth noting, however, that the cost of living in these states is somewhat lower, as well. For example, in North Carolina, the median home price is $202,215, while the average home price in upstate New York is $321,934.1313

Salaries Based on Experience and Employer

Your experience level will affect what you can earn as a UX designer. The following numbers are based on actual salaries and may vary by location.14

Years of Experience Average Salary
Less than one $62,419
1 - 4 $71,489
5 - 9 $84,128
10 - 19 $95, 085
20 and more $98, 281

Salaries-Based-Experience-Employer-Graph

In addition, of course, your employer will be a significant determining factor in your salary. Companies currently offering top UX design salaries include Google ($123,000), Amazon ($117,000), Microsoft ($113,000) and IBM ($87,000).15 Other offering generous compensation include eBay ($115,000 to $127,000) and Cisco Systems ($49,000 to $112,000).15

Salaries Based on Specialty

To be a successful UX designer in today’s complex, interconnected world, you need a wide range of skills and abilities, from research and analytics to creating flow models, understanding user behaviors and visual design solutions. There are so many skills involved in UX design that the field is often broken down into different specialties under the larger UX umbrella. These job opportunities can include user research, usability analyst, information architect, interaction designer, visual designer and overall UX designer. Each has its own job description and responsibilities, and salaries can vary. This is why the question, “What is a UX designer salary?” is often difficult to answer with a single number.16

A UX researcher can earn $106,834, while the average compensation for an information architect is $108,823. Other UX specialist salaries include interaction designer ($92,646), visual designer ($108,941) and overall UX designer ($102,190).17

Because there can be so much overlap and differences in requirements between companies, a savvy UX designer will have at least basic knowledge in multiple areas. By obtaining a comprehensive education, you’ll expand your career options and make yourself more attractive to potential employers.

Develop the right skills for the UXD career you want.

Chart your course for a career of excellent challenges and rewards. The Kent State online MS in UXD program will immerse you in essential core skills, electives that fit your interests and the opportunity to craft a professional UX design portfolio. Start creating your success by talking with an Admissions Advisor today.


1. Retrieved on September 18, 2020 from glassdoor.com/Explore/browse-companies.htm?overall_rating_low=3.5&page=2&isHiringSurge=0&occ=User%20Experience%20Designer
2. Retrieved on September 18, 2020 from roberthalf.com/blog/salaries-and-skills/hot-job-ux-designer
3. Retrieved on September 18, 2020 from trydesignlab.com/blog/ui-designer-or-ux-designer-which-career-is-best-for-you/
4. Retrieved on September 18, 2020 from uxdesign.cc/who-is-a-ux-designer-b484855e32b1 onwardsearch.com/career-center/ux-careers-guide/
5. Retrieved on September 18, 2020 from fastcompany.com/3032719/ui-ux-who-does-what-a-designers-guide-to-the-tech-industry
6. Retrieved on September 18, 2020 from glassdoor.com/Salaries/user-interface-designer-salary-SRCH_KO0,23.htm
7. Retrieved on September 18, 2020 from glassdoor.com/Job-Descriptions/UI-Designer.htm
8. Retrieved on September 18, 2020 from glassdoor.com/Salaries/user-experience-designer-salary-SRCH_KO0,24.htm
9. Retrieved on September 18, 2020 from justinmind.com/blog/10-must-have-skills-for-ux-designers/
10. Retrieved on September 18, 2020 from ziprecruiter.com/Salaries/UX-Designer-Salary
11. Retrieved on September 18, 2020 from ziprecruiter.com/Salaries/What-Is-the-Average-UX-Designer-Salary-by-State
12. Retrieved on September 18, 2020 from ziprecruiter.com/Salaries/Highest-Paying-UX-Designer-Salary-by-City
13. Retrieved on September 18, 2020 from businessinsider.com/average-home-prices-in-every-state-washington-dc-2019-6#10-new-york-321934-42
14. Retrieved on September 18, 2020 from payscale.com/research/US/Job=UX_Designer/Salary
15. Retrieved on September 18, 2020 from designrush.com/trends/highest-paying-us-companies-for-designers
16. Retrieved on September 18, 2020 from onwardsearch.com/career-center/ux-careers-guide/
17. Retrieved on September 18, 2020 from ziprecruiter.com/Salaries/UX-Visual-Designer-Salary