So, you want to get a job as a UX designer in New York City? Strong move.
To make it work you’ll have to get your finances in order to make sure you can cover your rent and other expenses—New York City is a notoriously expensive city to live in.
It is possible to survive—and sometimes even thrive—on a UX designer salary in NYC, but getting a realistic picture of the market and industry standards can be tough.
We’ve written this article to help with that. We’ll walk you through how much UX designers earn in New York City, and how this varies by years of experience and from company to company.
We’ll also share some advice on how to make carving out your UX design career in NYC that bit easier.
If you want to skip ahead to a specific section, you can use this clickable menu:
- How much does a UX designer make in New York City?
- UX designer salaries in New York by experience
- UX designer NYC salaries by company
- How to become a UX designer in NYC
- Key takeaways
1. How much does a UX designer make in New York City?
The good news is that UX designers in New York City are generally very well-compensated.
According to the latest UX design salary data from Glassdoor, the average UX designer’s salary in NYC is a shade under $129K ($128,998 to be precise).
This figure consists of $105,289 base pay, and $23,709 additional pay, which could include incentives such as cash bonuses, profit sharing, stock options, and more.
Glassdoor states that their “Most Likely Salary Range” is from $103K to $163K and this “represents values that exist within the 25th and 75th percentile of all pay data available for this role”.
(If you’re not familiar with “percentiles”, the 25th and 75th are the lower and upper boundaries respectively of the middle 50% of the dataset–in this case all the salaries submitted to Glassdoor.)
While Glassdoor’s salary data points to a “Possible Range” from $85K to $199K, they also cite several companies that pay salaries in excess of $200K, which we’ll look at in a section later on.
As you can see, the question of how much a UX designer in New York makes is layered. The answer is nuanced with several factors–years of experience, industry, company, and more–coming into play.
Now that we’ve answered the question broadly, we’ll take a look at how the UX design salary in New York varies according to years of experience.
2. UX designer salaries in New York by experience
In line with other industries, UX design salaries generally trend upwards in tandem with years of experience.
The Glassdoor data clearly tells us that a UX designer salary in NYC is no different.
While junior UX designers with less than a year of experience can expect a total pay of $107K (approximately $90K base and $17K additional), this increases to $117K total pay ($97K base and $20K additional) for designers with between one and three years of experience.
For the record, most companies would still consider designers with one or two years of experience as juniors, and those with three years of experience would be considered mid-level.
(If you want a well-thought-through overview of the levels and career development in UX, check out Jung Jin’s Medium article Career ladder from junior to director — guidance for UX professionals.)
Moving up to the mid to senior level, New York City UX designers with four to six years of experience earn an average total pay of $129,637 ($106K base and $23K additional).
Those with between seven and nine years of experience—seasoned practitioners who would be considered senior or principal in most companies—report salaries of $138K made up of $112K base pay and $26K additional.
At the higher end of the salary scale, NYC-based UX designers with 10–14 years of experience on average earn a total pay of $154K ($122K base and $32K additional).
And designers with 15+ years of experience report yet another step up in their earnings with a total pay of $170K, made up of 133K base and $37K additional. Designers in these final two categories would generally be at the director or principal level.
That’s a whole load of numbers to digest!
So we’ve put them all in this table to make it a bit easier:
As this data makes it seem like the salary increases with experience are predictable and linear, it’s worth saying again: these are averages. This means that the raw data would probably show areas of overlap.
In other words—it’s not as simple as “the more years of experience you have the more you earn”. For example, a UX designer with four years of experience in one of the tech giants could earn more than a designer with eight years working for a public company.
In the next section we’ll look into how a UX designer salary in New York can vary by company and industry.
3. UX designer NYC salaries by company
As is the case with global UX design compensation, a UX design salary in New York can vary significantly from company to company.
As a very general rule, the best-paying employers are often the tech giants and big banks.
Of course, this doesn’t mean companies from other industries don’t offer good—or in some cases better—salaries. But the data clearly points to the big tech and financial services as being places to target if maximizing earning is your top priority.
Meta (3), Google (4), eBay (10), Airbnb (13), Amazon (17), and Uber (19) all feature in Glassdoor’s top 20 companies with the highest total pay estimates for UX design salaries in New York.
For context, Meta’s average total pay comes in at $233K and Uber’s at $217K, with relatively small increments between the other entrants on the list.
Companies in the financial services sector also figure prominently with Wells Fargo (6) at $227K total pay, Mastercard (7), Northwestern Mutual (8), and Fidelity Investments (12) offering their NYC-based UX designers very generous packages.
Interestingly, the top 119 companies in Glassdoor’s list all offer total pay of over $200K per year.
They represent a very wide range of industries, which underscores the fact that very high salaries are offered by companies of all sizes and from all industries, even if there is a general trend towards tech and financial services.
Now we’ve touched on UX designer salaries in New York City by company, we’ll take you through the process of becoming a UX designer in NYC.
4. How to become a UX designer in NYC
It’s fair to say becoming a UX designer in New York City is no mean feat. Although there are a multitude of job opportunities, there’s also fierce competition.
And, because the recent waves of tech layoffs have flooded the market with top talent looking for work, the current market (as of April 2023) is probably slightly more favorable to employers than employees.
But—and this is a big but—there are always opportunities in New York City for skilled UX designers. The sheer scale of the New York City jobs market makes it a great place to carve out your career if you’re a strong UX designer (the same goes for UX researchers and UX writers too).
New York City is home to companies of all shapes and sizes. As well as the aforementioned tech and financial services giants, the likes of IBM and Netflix both have a presence there, as well as well-established MNCs such as PepsiCo and Equinox.
With its long-held status as a global financial center, NYC hosts Deloitte, CitiGroup, Capital One, JP Morgan Chase & Co., and many more big fish.
Don’t be in a rush to write off financial services companies as potential employers. Although they’re not necessarily the most glamorous options out there, they can be stimulating and challenging environments for UX designers, not just financially rewarding ones.
If rapidly growing but well-established enterprises are more your thing, the likes of Atlassian, Adyen, Peloton, HelloFresh, Squarespace, and Etsy are a few of the names you might recognize with NYC offices.
It should go without saying that New York is a hotbed for startups. wellfound.com is a good place to start sifting through them, especially the ones that are hiring UX designers.
While your approach to getting hired as a UX designer will, of course, vary depending on both your experience level and whether you’re applying to Google or a five-person early-stage startup, several tactics are pretty much universal.
(Note: these tactics apply to those who already have the foundational skills in place to apply for junior positions and up. If you’re not there yet, have a read of 5 Steps to Getting Started in UX Design to figure out your next move.)
1. Be proactive and methodical in your search: A downside of the scale of opportunities there are in New York is that it can be difficult to know where to start. So get organized and start creating lists of your top ten and twenty companies (at least) as a starting point.
This will help you prioritize the quality of your applications over the quantity. If your preferred companies aren’t hiring at that time, you can often still submit a speculative application, sign up for their job posting updates, and make a profile for their recruiters to view.
2. Network: Digital and in-person networking can be a great way to secure introductions and even interviews if not jobs (as you’ll almost certainly still have to go through a multi-step interview process).
This will become easier as your career progresses, because your network will expand naturally and the number of people who can personally vouch for your skills will increase.
3. Message recruiters and hiring managers directly: This will make your application more likely to stand out and—especially if you have a preliminary call with them—can give you insights on the company and role that might not be in the job description.
In some cases, it might even show you wouldn’t be a good fit with the company and save you the time of submitting an application.
4. Make sure your portfolio, resume, and cover letter are in top shape: Get feedback on all three from your mentor and other trusted and qualified people in your network. Make sure your portfolio clearly and concisely tells a story, shows off your skills, and shows the hiring manager how you could solve their problem.
Tailor your resume to the company and write a customized cover letter (take a look at Writing a UX Designer Cover Letter for more on this).
5. Practice your interview skills: Because of the fierce competition in the NYC UX design scene, make sure you show your best self in the interview. We won’t go into details here, but make sure to read How to Prepare for Your Next UX Design Interview for the latest best practices.
5. Key takeaways
New York City is an exhilarating place to carve out or continue your career in UX design.
The UX designer salary in New York varies a lot, but from what’s generally a very high average ($129K). And the data points to a clear salary progression as your experience grows.
Although tech and financial services appear to offer a lot of the highest-paying roles, you’d be wise to cast your net wider, as there could be an excellent career and financial move for you in another industry.
If you’re worried about the level of competition for UX design roles in New York, remember the huge scale of opportunities thanks to the size of the city.
Competition may be fierce, but there’s a vast array of companies on the lookout for skilled UX designers. Opportunities will never be far away if you’re lucky enough to be one of them.
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