User experience (UX) design is a relatively new profession on the block, but according to a study from Morgan McKinley and the UX Design Institute, this field may be punching above its weight in terms of employment opportunities and salary offerings.
UX design already promises starting salaries both equal to and exceeding other established professions, according to the report. It added that UX designers are among the most sought-after tech professionals today, given the importance of the end-user experience to virtually all sectors today.
The study analysed data from a number of different sources including Irish salary guides, jobs boards and LinkedIn, as well as Morgan McKinley’s own recruitment data for UX design jobs since 2014.
According to the report, there has been a 320pc increase in UX design jobs in the past five years.
What is UX design?
The report said that “UX designers are to the software industry what architects are to construction”. Those working in the field produce detailed designs for software products such as websites and apps, ultimately ensuring that consumers can interact with them in a smooth and effective way.
Dara Boland, associate director at Morgan McKinley, said: “We’ve seen incredible growth in UX in the past five years, with a threefold increase in the level of jobs we are being asked to service.
“This is largely due to many companies rapidly growing their UX design teams – in some cases by 20 to 30 people – and businesses with no previous design culture beginning to appreciate the need to have at least one or two talented designers on site to remain competitive.”
According to the analysis, the average starting salary for those taking their first steps into the field now stands at €30,000 per year, up from €25,000 three years ago. This puts graduate earnings higher than that of accountants, who earn an average of €26,468 per year, and close to engineers and banking graduates, earning around €30,527 and €30,550 respectively.
The report also noted that due to such high demand, salaries in the field continue to progress quickly over time. Its analysis of salary data showed UX designers with zero to two years’ experience typically earning between €30,000 and €35,000 in permanent roles, and salaries for those with two to four years’ experience ranging from €35,000 to €60,000.
For those with five years of experience or more, salary expectations can jump as high as €60,000 to €80,000.
UX design was also noted by Morgan McKinley as an accessible field for women, in “sharp contrast to the wider technology industry, which has a well-documented gender balance issue”.
The analysis observed that women account for 41pc of UX professionals in Ireland, which is double the proportion of females in other technology roles, according to the report.
Colman Walsh, CEO of the UX Design Institute, said: “We see a far more balanced percentage of men and women pursuing careers in UX compared to other areas of technology.
“Feedback from our student base is that it focuses on the more human side of technology and offers an interesting blend of design and psychology, which requires a lot of empathy for end users.”
Looking for a job in UX design?
Given the competitive market and the ongoing digital revolution, tech companies have been expanding their design teams and traditional organisations are following suit.
The report lists some Irish-based companies that are currently hiring for UX designers, including Accenture, PwC, Paddy Power, Glanbia, Infosys and Ryanair, as well as many design agencies, software development firms and start-ups.
“Every company that operates a website or mobile app needs UX design skills to remain successful, which is close to every company in the world,” Walsh added.
“Traditional universities are not producing enough qualified graduates to fill the demand for designers. This is a major pain point for companies hiring, but it’s a great opportunity for smart professionals to enter the industry and progress quickly.”
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