Today’s economy is a never-ending world of products, customizations, and user experiences. It seems like everyone is constantly buying and selling products from large corporations, e-commerce sites, and “side hustles.”
With so much business centered around so many products, there are many lucrative careers around the idea of creating a great product experience.
One of the biggest job titles being thrown around right now is “product designer.” But what are product designers anyway, and how much do they make?
What is a product designer?
A product designer works across all stages of the product lifecycle to optimize the user experience. By blending research, user needs, and business goals, they make products that are desirable, useful, and usable. They can be full-time employees of a single corporation or work for many at a consulting firm.
Many product designers go by different names depending on their company or specific roles. This includes titles such as User Experience (abbreviated frequently as UX) Designer, Information Architect, or a combination of those.
Some product designers might have more responsibility in one aspect of the design process or focus on one goal or audience. Job descriptions can also vary by seniority and experience.
Regardless of title or specialization, all product designers share one thing in common — they are expert problem solvers.
At the end of the day, this is what product design is all about: solving a user’s problems with a product. A designer might focus on researching the user experience or figuring out how to modify a specific product with certain limitations, but they are all problem solvers at heart.
Top companies for product designers in the U.S.
Product designers are in demand across thousands of companies all over the country. Many Fortune 500 companies are looking for new employees, and many designers make six figures or more.
Here are some companies with the best opportunities:
1. Facebook: While they’re not exactly an “up and coming” company, their product designer force is comparable to that of a small army. Plus, the average product designer working at this tech giant usually makes somewhere above $150,000 a year—not too shabby.
2. Saritasa: This custom software developer from Southern California works on various large-scale, high-pay projects. They work on everything from apps and websites to virtual reality software and customized programs. Not only does their size show great quantity for work, but their consistent praise from employees and customers emphasizes their immense quality as a company.
3. Digital Silk: Digital Silk is a massive player in the product design market-based in New York City. They boast contracts with groups like Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, New York University, and even the NFL. They focus on a wide range of product design expertise, ensuring employees can find their specific passion and pick up invaluable skills along the way.
4. SmartSites: As one of the most reputable digital marketing agencies in the country, this New Jersey company is constantly growing and has a huge demand for product designer positions. They’re professionals with care for product design like no one else.
5. Echo & Co – A product design company with a purpose: Not only does Echo & Co have a growing team of product designers, but it’s leading the way in activism for product design companies. They have pledged a social mission to promote environmental well-being all over the planet, and they focus on providing opportunities to people of color & the LGBTQ community.
Cities in the U.S. with the highest average product designer salary
There is a surge in demand for product designers around the silicon valley area, but well-paid designers live all over the country. These are the ten best cities in the country for product design salaries:
- San Francisco, California – $136,000
- Palo Alto, California – $124,000 also Sunnyvale, California with a similar average salary
- New York, New York – $115,000
- Los Angeles, California – $110,000
- Seattle, Washington – $108,000
- Boston, Massachusetts – $95,000 also Austin, Texas with a similar average salary
- Auburn Hills, Michigan – $93,000
- Portland, Oregon – $91,000
- Indianapolis, Indiana – $82,000 also Houston, Texas with a similar average salary
- Miami, Florida – $81,000
You could probably expect to make around $70,000 per year if you’re a rookie product designer. However, some designers in certain areas have been reported to make as little as $50,000 annually (August 2021).
Product Designer Salary by Years of Experience
As you can see, product designer pay varies significantly by experience. Although beginner-level salaries are relatively low, designers can expect to make around $83,000 a year after a few years on the job.
Having worked the better half of a decade, some product designers are making six figures after 10-20 years of experience.
Here are the entry-level salaries of product designers for some of the largest cities in the nation (in August 2021):
- San Francisco, California – $62,000
- Palo Alto, California – $63,000
- New York, New York – $59,000
- Los Angeles, California – $101,000
- Seattle, Washington – $57,000
- Austin, Texas – $52,000
- Auburn Hills, Michigan – $50,000
- Indianapolis, Indiana – $50,000
- Miami, Florida – $45,000
Product design is a fast-paced, rapidly developing field. Thus, seasoned designers with more than 20 years of experience are usually paid less frequently since they aren’t jumping into the new skills for the first time.
Interested in a career in product design or UX/UI design? Check out the Product Design bootcamp at Flatiron School. You can learn the skills you need in as little as 15 weeks. Download the syllabus to learn more.