Ever wondered how much other UX designers with similar skills to you are earning elsewhere? As a location-independent designer with a lot of control over my own salary, I was extremely interested in knowing the answer to that question. It seems I’m not alone.
Last time I looked into UX design salaries I based my findings on desktop research, digging through reports, articles and blog posts to try and get a feel for how our market looked. But this time I wanted to get some real data to analyse. This, I felt, would give me some more honest data to dig into.
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I decided to get that via crowdsourcing, creating a Google Form and asked the UX community to provide their salary data. This was largely anonymous, but I did provide the option for designers to submit their email address along with their data. You responded extremely generously, and the survey received more than 1,100 responses—an astonishing number—which will give us enough raw information to dig out some deeper insights.
To help make this a little bit easier to digest, I’ve turned all that data into a series of interactive maps and visualisations. My raw data, sanitised to remove spam submissions and personal information such as email addresses, is also publicly available as a Google Sheet.
So, how are UX designers valued
I’m sure you’re keen to see some figures. Here’s the big one:
As you’d expect, salaries in wealthier countries such as the USA, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Australia and Western Europe are fairly high. We can certainly have a lot of fun looking through the huge bank of data and looking at how salaries compare between different countries.
But while these raw figures are always interesting, but I wanted to go a little further. We’re all aware of the huge cost of living (especially housing costs) in cities such as London and San Francisco: just because you’re paid more in one country doesn’t mean you’re automatically better off there. Nor does it give us a realistic idea of how highly valued UX designers are in different locations.
A much better way to get a feel for this, and allow us to compare countries a little more side-by-side, is to look at how the average salaries in each country from our survey submissions, compare to the GDP per capita in that country.
GDP is often used in this way to benchmark countries, so while it’s not a perfect basis for comparison, it should serve us well here. If GDP per capita is $50,000 and the average salary is $100,000, this gives us a ratio of 2.0 for that country: a UX designer here earns twice as much as the GDP per capita, suggesting that they’re relatively highly valued.
If you look directly to the dataset, you’ll see the full results. For now, let’s exclude all countries where we had less than 10 salary submissions and we’ll see what observations we can make. Here are our salary averages sorted by ratio of salary: GDP:
A few observations:
- India and Eastern Europe position very favourably here. The average UX designer salary is significantly higher than GDP.
- Despite topping the list of average salaries by country, the salary ratio for Switzerland indicates that UX designers aren’t necessarily overvalued here.
- Salaries in the USA are significantly higher than in many developed European countries, but this might reflect that in these European countries, there’s more of a social security net and more of the costs of employment are borne by the employer, rather than the employee.
- Swedish and Dutch UX designers are compensated financially well, but have a significantly lower salary ratio. Perhaps this relates to a more equal society as a whole in these countries, or perhaps it’s an indication that UX design is not as highly prized.
A closer look at UX salaries in the USA
We’ve all heard of those obscene salaries popping out of San Francisco, and I was especially keen to find out more about these. The figures so far have shown us how the USA compares on an international level, but as you can imagine, salaries range quite steeply even between states. here’s the data we’ve picked up for states with at least 10 respondents to our survey:
As you can see, there’s a lot of divergence here. And if we look into the Google Sheet containing the raw submission data, you’ll see a huge salary range here, too.
What about bonuses?
Alongside regular salary figures, our survey also asked whether people received a bonus. This isn’t mapped on the minisite, but if you look through the full set of responses, you’ll see that many designers, particularly experienced ones in the USA, receive hefty bonuses.
I calculated that 53 percent of US-based UX designers receive bonuses, compared to only 29 percent in other parts of the world. Perhaps this reflects the number of US designers working at startups, but it’s nevertheless an interesting contrast. The US appears to be a bonus-paradise, at least for UX designers.
How does salary correlate with experience?
We asked our survey respondents to let us know their experience levels, as well as their compensation, choosing from 4 experience options: 0-3 years, 4-7 years, 8-12 years and 13+ years. Here’s how that looked.
It’s worth noting, however, that while average salary rises in a relatively proportional way, there are many submissions in our data set which indicate that the most experienced designers, with over 13 years of experience, are the ones receiving the salaries at the very top end of our set of submissions.
Some of these salaries with bonuses, especially in San Francisco for experienced designers, can get to astronomic heights. Deep UX experience is clearly highly valued in certain places.
We’ve all seen websites showing average salaries by country, but it’s rare to be able to get stuck into real data that has been submitted by UX designers like us. That alone makes this a very interesting topic to consider, even if we acknowledge that there’s going to be some bias when we’re looking at self-submitted data which hasn’t been vetted and filtered.
In addition to the relative strengths of different global economies (which affects the raw USD totals that we’ve used to compare between countries), we can see from the different GDP ratios that UX is valued very differently from country to country.
Whereas the UX market in the USA might be highly developed, that’s not necessarily the case globally: that might well help us to understand why many UX designers (myself included) choose to work remotely with clients, and take home higher than average salaries in our home countries.
Even in the same city and at the same experience level, salaries can vary hugely. It’s clear that your negotiating skills, as well as the financial strength of the company you’re working with, will play a big impact in how much you get paid.
Hopefully my data will help you to take more informed decisions when it comes to salary raises or new job offers, and give you a little bit more insight into what others might be earning.
One thing that does seem clear: as UX designers we are on the whole, very well paid. In the vast majority of countries we collected data from, UX designer salaries exceeded GDP per capita. And we can see from the dataset that many UX designers, particularly more experienced ones, are taking home huge paychecks for their work.
We’d love to receive more submissions, so if you didn’t happen to submit your salary first time around, please help us improve the quality of our data by submitting it now. It’s totally anonymous and hopefully we can help to build a more informed UX design community.
To view all of our findings and visualisations, visit uxdesignersalaries.com.
Image credit: Shutterstock