So, you want to be a user interface designer? On the plus side, it’s a profession with huge growth potential. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, designer-related jobs are expected to grow nearly 15 percent within the next five years. This is about the same as projections for similar tech-based fields. Of course, before you leap to become a full-time UI designer, it’s only natural to want to know some essential things. It’s safe to assume expected salary is one of those things. Realistically, you’re not going to earn as much when you get started in this field as experienced pros, but that’s to be expected with any occupation. However, what you want to focus on is your salary potential throughout your career. Read on for some of the insights you may need to know if UI designer is the right career for you.
General Earnings Expectations
Before diving into the details, let’s look at general expectations with earnings. If you start as a junior designer, you will likely bring home about $40–60k a year. Your exact starting salary will depend on your education level and what related experience you may have already.
As you gain your footing and pay your dues, you’ll likely earn a six-figure salary by the time you get to senior level. There will be more competition for UI designer jobs in bigger cities and significant tech hubs. Still, there are opportunities available in many locations and plenty of ways to find an in into this industry.
UI Designer Salary Averages
According to Glassdoor, the average salary for user interface designers nationwide is around $85,000, with $57k being the low end of the pay scale and $121k being the high end. If you do user interface design work for a big company like Google, you can expect an average salary of $112,000 per year. The average is slightly less for PayPal, at around $93k annually. Apple pays more for talented UI designers, offering an average yearly salary of $123k.
You can also expect a six-figure salary if your UI design skills land you a job with some of the major social platforms. Designers at LinkedIn, for instance, earn an average of $116,000 per year. Facebook, however, pays slightly less, with salaries averaging about $85,000 annually. Twitter, on the hand, dishes out annual wages for designers ranging from $104,664 to $116,501, according to Glassdoor. The pay rate average is similar to YouTube.
Some places like Microsoft tend to outsource to get the design help they need. The average hourly rate for freelancer designers doing work for MS is about $43. According to Indeed.com, freelancer designers, regardless of who they may be working for, have average yearly earnings of nearly $59k.
Entry Level UI Designer Salary Expectations
Entry level user interface designers earn about $64,502 annually or $30 per hour, according to PayScale. The very bottom of the entry level pay scale is about $44k for beginners in this occupation. PayScale reports that some entry level UI designers may snag extra earnings from profit sharing opportunities and bonuses.
The breakdown among entry-level UI designers is about even between the sexes, with women slightly outnumbering men in entry-level user experience positions. While you may not be thrilled about starting from the bottom and working your way up, take comfort in knowing that job satisfaction among entry-level designers is high.
UI Designer Salaries By Country
Salaries can vary by country, although the salary differences are less noticeable with more experienced designers. Future Heads, a recruiting and placement agency in the United Kingdom, suspects that many UK-based companies are hiring for less than the average salaries in this region. To be fair, this may be true in other countries as well since salary reporting is based mostly on surveys. According to Glassdoor, starting salaries in the UK for UI designers average about $53k (in U.S. dollars) annually. Junior designers begin at around $27k at the low level of the pay scale. Senior designers can earn as much as $200k per year in the UK.
If you compare Canada and the United States, starting salaries are lower, on average, for designers with 1–3 years of experience in the U.S. ($49k on the low end of the pay scale in the U.S. compared to $57k in Canada). However, salary averages are similar among designers with five-plus years of experience in both countries. The exception here is at the very top. Senior designers and design directors make more in the United States.
Available salary data for Asia shows that UI designers in the region earn about $60,000 annually, in Singapore dollars. Additional data shows that somebody just starting out as a junior or mid-user researcher can expect to receive about $3,500 to $5,500 per month here while someone who advances to a top-level designer position typically earns about anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000 monthly in the Asian market.
According to PayScale data for Australia, salaries can increase sharply for individuals within the first five to ten years in their designer position. Even so, an additional experience beyond this point does not appear to have a significant impact on pay rates in this area.
Global Designer Earnings Trends
Since you could conceivably work anywhere in the world as UI designer thanks to advances in technology that make remote work possible, let’s take a look at global salary trends. Designers can earn more doing work for employers in wealthier countries as opposed to locations with emerging economies.
Northern European countries pay higher salaries for designers if you go strictly by the raw data. However, salary differences aren’t that great if you compare GDPs among countries. In 2016, a major survey was conducted to Hacking UI and Hired to get a better idea of current global earnings trends among designers. Input was gathered from respondents from nearly 60 countries. Here are some of the leading takeaways:
• Pay rates for women and men in entry-level designer positions are about even
• Women earn significantly less in top-level designer roles globally than their male counterparts in the same roles
• In-house designers typically make more than those working with design agencies
• Each year of experience adds about $5,000 to earnings potential for designers
• Salaries level out after designers accumulate about a decade or so of experience
Increase your earnings potential as a UI designer by building your portfolio. If you don’t have experience as a full-time designer just yet, you may have done design tasks in other roles for clients. If this is the case, organize your portfolio to showcase examples of interface designs you had a hand in creating. Another way to increase your appeal to potential employers is with active engagement online. Having an updated LinkedIn page, for starters, can increase your visibility. Even things like sharing your insights on design blogs or discussing relevant topics in your social media posts can make a good impression on employers. Finally, consider how flexible you are with work environments and location when weighing your employment possibilities as a designer. If you find a great UI designer job in another country outside of the U.S., for example, factor in the cost of living expenses to determine if the move is worth the effort.