5 UX Designer Career Paths: Stepping Up Your Design Career

User Experience (UX) design is a creative and engaging field that offers lucrative opportunities for professionals. With an average US salary of $99,107, UX designers have several career paths available for advancement and growth. This article explores five potential pathways for UX designers looking to take their careers to the next level.

Entry-level UX Design Jobs

Before venturing into the various career paths, it's essential to understand the entry-level UX design positions. Individuals new to the field can start their journey in these roles, often transitioning from related fields like graphic design or UI design.

To secure an entry-level UX design position, you'll need to possess the skills typically expected of a UX designer. These include proficiency in prototyping, wireframing, design software, and conducting user research. The Google UX Design Professional Certificate is an excellent resource for acquiring job-ready skills in six months or less.

Career Paths for UX Designers

UX Management

As UX designers gain experience, they may have the opportunity to take on managerial roles. This career path can lead to positions such as UX manager, UX director, creative director, and eventually executive roles like chief experience officer, chief product officer, or vice president of UX.

To progress in this direction, it's essential to actively seek out opportunities to expand your responsibilities and gain experience leading projects. Working on diverse projects will expose you to new challenges and teach you how to respond effectively. Additionally, strong interpersonal and leadership skills are crucial, as managers oversee teams and interact with employees outside their immediate group.

The average US salaries for UX management roles are as follows:


Average Salary

Additional Pay

UX Manager



UX Director



Chief Experience Officer



Creative Director



Advanced UX Positions

UX designers can progress to advanced positions while continuing their hands-on work. These roles may include senior UX designer, lead UX designer, or principal UX designer. Senior designers have expanded responsibilities, while lead and principal designers further lead projects and oversee larger decisions, typically while still participating in the design process.

To pursue this path, you'll need a diverse set of UX skills, such as user research, graphic design, and experience collaborating across various teams.

The average US salaries for advanced UX design roles are:


Average Salary

Additional Pay

Senior UX Designer



Lead UX Designer



Principal UX Designer




For those seeking freedom and flexibility, freelancing can be an attractive option. UX designers may choose to freelance to concentrate on projects that interest them, set their own hours, or pick their own clients.

To succeed as a freelance UX designer, you'll need to prepare a strong portfolio and leverage your network to find work and obtain referrals. Building a social media presence and joining relevant groups on platforms like Facebook or LinkedIn can also be helpful.

The average salary for a freelance UX designer is $107,835, with an additional $25,266 in additional pay.

UX Consulting

UX consultants are professionals who help organisations improve their design and business strategies by offering solutions based on user experience principles. This may involve training clients in best UX practices, researching client customers, or prototyping websites and other products.

UX consultants often work for UX consultancy companies, but they can also work as freelance consultants or as in-house consultants within a company. To become a UX consultant, you'll need experience being closely involved with projects from start to finish, as well as managerial experience and an understanding of underlying business practices.

The average salary for a UX consultant is $121,136, with an additional $35,318 in additional pay.

UX Specialist

If you find yourself drawn to specific aspects of UX design, you may consider making a lateral move to a related position. For example, if you're interested in how engineers bring designs to life in websites or apps, you could explore becoming a UX engineer. Alternatively, if you're fascinated by user behaviour, you may consider switching to a UX researcher role.

To transition into a specialised UX role, you'll need to polish your skills in the desired field. This can be achieved through online courses, shadowing professionals in your target area, or taking on projects that provide relevant responsibilities.

The average US salaries for various UX specialist roles are:


Average Salary

Additional Pay

UX Researcher



UX Writer



UX Engineer




Whether you're already working as a UX designer and seeking your next step or just getting started, building the necessary skills is crucial for progressing in your career. The five career paths outlined in this article – UX management, advanced UX positions, freelancing, UX consulting, and UX specialisation – offer a variety of opportunities for growth and development in the exciting field of User Experience design.

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