User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) designers both play significant roles in designing web applications and countless other sites and mobile apps. If you’re considering to enter either of these exciting fields, you may wonder, how much do these designers make?
On average, UX designers make around $70,000 a year for entry-level jobs in the United States, $90,000 a year when they reach mid-level and about $110,000 a year once they gain experience. While UI designers, make an average of about $60,000 a year at entry-level, $75,000 a year at mid-level, and $90,000 a year at higher levels.
The above averages might be higher or lower than what you might truly make as a UI or UX designer. That’s why, in this article, we’ll cover the salary range in more depth. We’ll even touch on UI/UX designer salaries for those in India.
So let’s get started with…
UI Designer vs UX Designer – The Fundamental Difference Between The Two
First, we thought it’d help to differentiate between UI and UX designers with definitions of both.
We’ll begin with UI designer.
What Do UI Designers Do?
A User Interface or UI designer is the one who designs the user interfaces of web applications, mobile applications, and of course, desktop computer applications.
The user interface itself refers to a means of interaction between a computer or device and the user or human. The UI designers plan the layout of the interface per screen. All visual elements are at their discretion. This includes patterns, whitespace, scroll bars, sliders, icons, buttons, fonts and colors of the interface, and so much more.
The UI designer must also account for the appearance of their interface on screens of different sizes. This becomes especially important if they design apps for smartphones or tablets as well as video games for consoles or computers.
These designers may work on their own or in conjunction with a team of employees.
Then there’s User Experience or UX designers.
What Do UX Designers Do?
While the UI designer ensures that the interface looks perfect, a UX designer manages the application’s interactivity, accessibility, and usability.
As a UX designer, you will often begin with product research to understand more about your audience. Through this research, you can understand the motivations and behaviors of your product’s users. Then, it’s all about making scenarios and user profiles to understand your target audience even better and plan your designs accordingly.
Next, there’s the information architecture stage, where the UX designer takes all the information that they have and apply it towards a product, app, or site structure. From there, it’s time to make wireframes or the first draft of the design.
Once those get approved, you can then prototype, test, and then finally push towards the product or app’s release.
Now that you understand what UI and UX designers do, let’s talk money, shall we?
What Salary Do UX Designers Make?
As we mentioned earlier, there’s an average salary range for these designers in the US. If you’re an entry-level designer, your salary will be less. You’ll make around $60,000 annually according to Glassdoor.
As you pick up career momentum, you can eventually move up to become a mid-level designer. You will need to have been involved with UX or UI and UX both. At this stage, you’ll earn around $90,000 per year, according to Glassdoor. Then, as you gain more and more experience, your income can increase to about $130,000 a year as an experienced designer.
However, PayScale has found the entry-level salaries to be a little lower than Glassdoor. According to them, UX designers on a beginner’s level will bring in about $45,000 to $100,000 max. Mid-level designers could earn about $60,000 to $125,000. Senior-level designers in the field would take home around $65,000 to $155,000, that’s a higher estimate than Glassdoor.
Robert Half has gone a step further and provided the above information on UX salaries across the US. Here’s how the salary information breaks down:
- Designers in Seattle: $112,530 a year
- Designers in San Francisco: $130,200 a year
- Designers in Los Angeles: $121,830 a year
- Designers in Denver: $101,370 a year
- Designers in St. Louis: $92,535 a year
- Designers in Chicago: $114,855 a year
- Designers in New York: $130,665 a year
- Designers in Boston: $124,620 a year
- Designers in Dallas: $102,300 a year
- Designers in Fort Lauderdale/Miami: $99,045 a year
Based on the information above, you can make the most money working as a UX designer in New York, where the annual salary is $130,665. That’s closely followed by San Francisco with a salary of $130,200.
There are a few problems with the above information though. First, we have no idea in what year these numbers were collected. Salary information can fluctuate, so the year would have been good to know.
Then there’s the issue of not knowing what level designer you’d have to be to earn these salaries. We doubt it’s entry level, but perhaps it’s junior mid-level. These salaries could even pertain to senior-level pros, but who can know for sure?
Now let’s see how much UI designers make.
What Salary Do UI Designers Make?
According to PayScale, an entry-level UI designer would make around $40,000 to $85,000 a year. While a mid-level UI designer would make about $50,000 to $100,000 a year and an experienced UI designer would make around $55,000 to $125,000 a year.
As you can see, the salaries of UI designers tend to be a little lower than UX designers.
This is due to the fact that UX design is much more complex than UI design in general.
Even the skills needed to ace UX design are much higher than that required for UI design.
This is why the salaries of UX designers tend to be higher than the salaries of UI designers.
Now, let’s say you’re not based in the US, but in India instead.
How Much Salary Can You Expect To Make As A UI or UX Designer In India?
As per PayScale, a UX designer in India might make ₹2,00,000 to ₹12,00,000 a year in an entry-level position. That’s about $2,800 to $17,200 a year.
For a mid-level UX designer, the salary increases to around ₹3,80,000 to ₹16,00,000 a year, or $5,500 to $23,000 a year.
At the highest level, an India-based UX designer could pull in ₹5,40,000 to ₹26,00,000 annually. That’s roughly $7700 to $37,000 a year.
Now let’s talk about UI designers in India.
This data also comes from PayScale.
Entry-level designers won’t make more than those in the UX field. Their pay starts at around ₹1,60,000 to ₹8,00,000 a year, or the equivalent of $2,300 to $11,500 a year.
Advancing to a mid-level career as a UI designer, you will earn about ₹3,50,000 to ₹12,00,000 a year, or $5,000 to $17,000 a year.
Finally, as you reach the higher echelons of this career in India, you can expect to make around ₹4,00,000 to ₹20,00,000 a year. That’s the equivalent of $5,000 to $29,000 a year.
Similar to the United States, it seems that working as a UX designer in India is where the money is as compared to getting into the UI design field.
Of course, those salaries don’t come guaranteed once you begin working as a UI or UX designer. You must also have education, skills, and experience to earn more money. In that regard, these career paths don’t differ from other jobs much at all. In general, your salary tends to increase the better you are at your job.
Whether you’re based in India or the US, if you’ve decided you want to pursue a career in UX or UI design, then the next question is…
How Do You Get Into UX and UI Careers?
Well, you’ll need the education to succeed in the job, so that often means extra learning. Whether you go back to a university or take courses online, you’ll have to master the ins and outs of UI, UX, or even both.
You’ll need to learn principles of consistency, typography, contrast, balance, and color. Also, you’ll need to grasp the entire UX process with time.
This process gets boiled down into a concept which is then further detailed out to completely design the application.
If you have the time and the drive, you could theoretically educate yourself. This could take years and would require a lot of dedication though. You’d have to essentially live and breathe UI/UX.
Once you graduate or feel you’ve educated yourself adequately, it’s time to put your skills to the test. You should gather a portfolio of all the work you’ve done and use that to apply to jobs in the UI and UX fields. You might focus on the cities listed in the chart above, but you can work as a designer almost anywhere in the world.
Then, when the right opportunity arises, you can finally begin your career as a UI or UX designer.
Even when you do enter your chosen career path, you’re never done learning. There’s always new technologies, programs, and software that can help you in your job. If you’re not well-versed in these, you’ll get left behind. To keep growing, you’ll always have to brush up on the latest design news and advancements.
If you prioritize your self-growth and stick with it, then within years, you could see your earning potential increase significantly.
UI designers create interactive interfaces for web applications, computers, smartphones, tablets, etc. while UX designers ensure that these products work optimally for customer satisfaction.
The earning potential for both fields varies. It’s certainly possible to bring in six figures with one of these design jobs in the US, especially if you have years of experience.
If this article has piqued your interest, we hope you realize what the path to UI/UX success entails. With hard work, skill, and a dedication to always keep improving, you can meet your career goals in UI or UX. Good luck!