UX professionals are well paid but do people realize what UXers can provide?
How much are UX designers paid
According to a 2015 survey by Zsolt Kocsmarszky, which gathered the annual wages from 1520 UX Designers from all over the world and compared it to their experience, the country they work in, and compared it to the average wages in those countries.
The report showed a lot of insights in the wages in the UX industry. Some of UX designers in Western Europe and North America earn more than in the rest of the world and the salary of UX designers increases immensely as experience does.
The chart below also shows the effect experience has on wages in the user experience industry. On average, the report shows that UX designers can double their salary in just ten years, from 44,000 dollars on average per year to 88,000 dollars per year.
The most noticeable insight from this survey is: UX designers as a whole all are very well paid.
This is fascinating. So, let’s see if it can be replicated 2017 and if a new survey will get the same results.
Let’s recheck it
A new survey was used to gather the same data from UX professionals, to see if the wages in the user experience industry have changed significantly in the last 2 years.
This new survey asked UX professionals a few questions about their job title, their country of residence, how many years of experience they have, and how much they earn; to gather the same data as used in the original survey from 2015.
The results are eerily similar to the original survey.
As an example, the graph below shows the average wages for entry level UX jobs (0 to 3 years of experience) in four countries for each of the two surveys to show the consistency of the two surveys and the UX industry in general.
The data from most western countries is about the same in both surveys and is not a bad starting salary in any of those countries.
While the wages in India are much lower than in the United States or Denmark, the UX professionals there are definitely not underpaid.
According to both surveys, UX professionals earn much more than the average salary in pretty much any country.
When comparing the wages for UX professionals to the GDP per capita of a country, most UX professionals in North America and Europe earn about double the GDP per capita.
While UX professionals in India and the Philippines, can earn 10 to 15 times the GDP per capita.
The new survey shows that the info from Kocsmarszky’s study is surprisingly accurate as most other data was just as similar in both surveys as the data in the graph above. This data also shows that the wages for UX jobs are usually quite stable at a pretty high level (the graph above only states the wages for starting positions, and a lot of UX professionals from all over the world also earned well over 150,000 dollar a year).
Problems in the hiring process
After asking another question, a seemingly very common problem in the user experience industry arose.
“The user experience industry has not yet fully developed. So, companies still don’t know what exactly UX is. They only know that they need it.”
After asking respondents how they felt about the application process for UX jobs, a good 75% of them weren’t that positive about it.
Most UX professionals responded that companies don’t clearly know what UI is or what a UX designer does. Others also wrote that the application process is just a frustrating process which involves dealing with people that confuse what UX or UI is and several tests that won’t set applicants apart well.
Just as an example. Below is one of the responses that shows that companies don’t always know what user experience related titles really mean.
“No Human factors & Ergonomics major in the selection box. HR people do not understand the difference between Human Factors and Human Resource.”
A respondent with a background in ergonomics was approached for a human resources related job since human resources staff thought the names sounded similar.
UX related job titles are plentiful and often overlap at least a little, and the actual job and its tasks are oftentimes decided on by the individual employee and their supervisor instead of just by the job title. Yet, if something like this happens often then it can be quite an annoyance to user experience professionals.
Another common response was that companies don't realize how much work different user experience jobs are. Companies often know that user experience is important, but they might not have the funds available to hire several professionals specialized in different fields. So, the UX professionals say that companies look for a ‘magical unicorn’ that can basically do any UX or UI job, and maybe also some developing and coding.
The respondents to 2017 survey called this a job for unicorns, since it's almost impossible to find someone specialized in all those different fields. An example of this type of response can be found below.
“Many listings have a hard time limiting themselves to a certain role, and basically asks for unicorns (both coding and design skills). In my opinion, these expectations are quite out of sync with reality, and when you see it often it can seem quite demotivational for your job hunt.”
Several other people already wrote about this problem before. An example is Sarah Harrison who wrote about what companies mean when they say they want a UI/UX Designer in hopes that companies can understand that UX designer and UI designer are two separate full time jobs and are quite difficult to combine.
“User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) are some of the most confused and misused terms in our field. A UI without UX is like a painter slapping paint onto canvas without thought; while UX without UI is like the frame of a sculpture with no paper mache on it. A great product experience starts with UX followed by UI. Both are essential for the product’s success.”
—Rahul Varshney, Co-creator of Foster.fm
A user experience designer does a wide range of tasks that focus on optimizing products (like apps and websites, car, etc.) and collaborates with other departments to make products more enjoyable for the users. While a user interface designer focuses on the look and feel, the presentation and interactivity of those products.
But definitely not all companies make these mistakes. A lot of enterprises, especially those with an existing user experience team, know what they’re looking for and how to find the people they need.
There hiring managers, founders, senior UX professionals, and human resources professionals state useful tips for hiring the right people. For example, why hiring people for their mindsets instead of certain skill sets, can prevent the disqualification of amazing candidates.
So, what about it?
The main issue seems to be that some companies just don’t know what kind of user experience professionals can help them the most, and user experience professionals just find the current application process demotivational and ineffective.
But when someone can connect these two groups and streamline the process by finding the right UX professionals that can help a company the most and by weeding out the applicants more effectively, then the process becomes a much nicer experience for the UX professionals.
For example, a mediator or a mediating company that truly understands the user experience industry.
But so far, there is no company specialized in user experience that can assist companies in finding the UX professionals who can truly help their businesses, while also helping the professionals by making this situation easier.
So, a new organization called SavvyUXer was founded to help the UX industry by improving the problems in the hiring process for everyone involved.
After years of working in the user experience industry and creating a large network of UX professionals to learn from and work with, our team is ready to help the UX industry by improving the problems related to the hiring process.
When companies are ready to start designing their products and services for their users, SavvyUXer will help with setting up the company’s own UX team.
SavvyUXer also work as a mediator between businesses and UX professionals, to find the experts that can help a company the most.
Using the team’s expertise in the UX industry, the application process can also be made easier.
By understanding the industry and its problems, finding people that truly qualify for a position becomes much easier. Which makes SavvyUXer all the more effective at finding qualified candidates, and meaning that user experience professionals won’t be bothered for unrelated jobs anymore.
Survey respondents also felt that the tests which are currently being used to set applicants apart, don’t let user experience professionals show their potential well enough. So, showing your true potential will also be made easier through a more effective method of selecting candidates.
All this is done to help companies get started on user experience more effectively and to improve the entire experience related to the hiring process for UX professionals everywhere.
So, in the end it’s fascinating to see that the user experience industry is so stable that researches can be repeated with almost identical results. Respondents with any level of experience are earn a fair wage in their countries and are doing great work from all kinds of companies and industries.
But according to the user experience professionals that responded to the 2017 survey, the application process will stay a problem in the UX industry with only few professionals without any negative experiences about it.
Respondents worry that this will keep happening if companies want to hire ‘unicorns’ that could solve all of their UX, UI, and design problems. As they state that this just doesn’t really match with reality on the job market.
Luckily, the UX and UI industries are maturing and different job titles are becoming more established. So, the issues felt by UX professionals will hopefully be a lot less in just a few years, and more and more companies are already hiring UX professionals more effectively.
SavvyUXer will continue to help the UX industries with solving these problems until they become a thing of the past.