What’s the difference between a junior, mid level and senior UX designer?
UX job titles and the career pathways available to UX professionals can be unclear, especially when you’re just getting started in UX.
In this guide, get an in-depth look at the career journey from UX Intern to UX Lead. You can click to jump to each section:
- UX Internship
- Junior UX Designer
- Mid-level UX Designer
- Senior UX Designer
- UX Lead
- Leveling Up Your Career
UX Job Titles: UX Design Intern, UX Design apprentice
Years of Experience: Little to no prior experience required, class projects
An internship is a common path into UX design, especially for students at UX bootcamps and degree programs. If you’re transferring from another field, UX internships can also be a pathway into UX. If you are deciding not to go the internship route, check out this article on how to find a UX job with no professional experience.
To be prepared for your internship, you should:
- Be proficient in one or more UX design tools
- Have an understanding of the UX process
- Create a portfolio of your work
- Create a well written and designed resume and cover letter
Here are two great examples of what you can expect your responsibilities to be as an intern:
Airbnb UX Internship
Junior UX Designer
Junior UX Designers can expect to work directly under more senior and mid-level designers. You will likely be given tasks and will be responsible to report back. In your UX design career, as a junior, you are still learning the ropes of the industry.
UX Job Titles: Junior UX Designer, Junior Product Designer, Entry Level UX Designer
Years of Experience: 0 – 4 years
As a junior team member, you are likely to be given a blueprint or specific tasks that so you can learn from more senior team members. This is a great time in your UX career! Take advantage of all the opportunities you have to learn. Being new to the field you will not likely have enough experience to see handle an entire project on your own. You can expect to work directly under more senior-level designers. The longer you are in the industry, you will begin to gain more insight.
You will be expected to :
- Show a real interest in continuing to learn UX
- Proficient in your knowledge of the UX process and design tools
- Have a portfolio that shows at least one real-world project
- Be able to take direction from more senior designers and finish tasks on time
- Know how to problem solve on your own and also understand when it is appropriate to ask for feedback
Salary Ranges: “According to ZipRecruiter, the average pay for a Junior UX Designer is 83,948 per year. Junior UX Designer salaries currently range between $61,000 (25th percentile) to $99,000 (75th percentile) across the United States.”
Hired.com has the following salaries for Junior level designers in Boston, New York, and Los Angeles.
Here is an example job posting from Trimble Inc. for a Junior UX Position.
- Advice for all Junior Designers
- Design Level Career Progression
- What it Takes to Get Hired As a Junior UX Designer
Mid-level UX Designer
As you might’ve guessed, mid-level UX designers have more responsibility than junior designers. By this point in your career, you should be proficient in one or more branches of UX. You may still report to a senior UX Designer but will be expected to take more responsibility into your own hands. According to this article by hired guns, this the biggest gap in the UX industry.
Job Title: Mid-Level UX Designer
Years of Experience: 4 – 6 years+
As a Mid Level UX Designer, you will be expected to:
- Have proficient knowledge of UX tools, process, and UI patterns
- Be able to take criticism of your design and explain the why behind your designs.
- Take more responsibility for your own work
- Know who and when to collaborate with other members of your team
Salary Ranges: “The majority of salaries within the Mid-level UX Designer jobs category currently range between $74,000 (25th percentile) to $119,500 (75th percentile) across the United States.” – ZipRecruiter
According to hired.com, this is what you can expect to earn as a Midlevel designer in Boston, New York, and Los Angeles.
Here is an example of a Midlevel UX Designer position from Health Care Consultants. INC.
- What sets a senior designer apart from a Midlevel designer
- What skills should a designer have at different levels
Senior UX Designer
Job Titles: Senior Level UX Designer, Senior Designer, Senior Product Designer, UX Consultant
Years of Experience: 6 years -10 years
By this point in your career journey, you will be expected to:
- Take a step back and see things from a broader perspective and manage projects if needed
- Communicate effectively with clients and stakeholders about your team’s design decisions
- Be able to handle several tasks and possible projects without becoming overwhelmed
- Take the role of a mentor to more junior designers
Salary Range: “The majority of Senior UX Designer salaries currently range between $101,000 (25th percentile) to $135,000 (75th percentile) across the United States.” – ZipRecruiter
According to hired.com, you can see the following salaries for Senior level designers in Boston, New York, and Los Angeles.
Here is an example of a Senior UX Designer position from Lucid Motors. INC.
Lead UX Designer
Job Titles: Lead UX Designer, UX Lead, Product Design Lead, Staff UX Designer
Years of Experience: 10 years+
UX Leads are usually the top individual-contributor (IC) level design positions in the company before design management roles. As a Lead UX Designer, will be expected to lead design projects, establish and update UX design processes and mentor junior designers. Often, UX Leads act as interim managers who guide the entire design UX team with several senior, mid-level, and juniors designers below them.
As a UX Lead, you may be expected to:
- Be involved in the hiring process of other team members
- Manage entire UX projects and teams
- Expert level understanding – and communication – of UX
- Mentor more junior team members
Here are the salary ranges for a Lead Designer in Boston, New York, and Los Angeles from hired.com
Here are two example job listing from Google and Facebook for a Lead UX Designer:
Google UX Lead Designer
Facebook UX Lead Designer
Leveling Up Your UX Career
Here are some tips that you can use to move from a junior designer to a mid-level designer and on up the UX ladder.
|UX Career Pillars:||What to Do:|
|Stay up to date on UX industry design trends.|
– Learn new skills that will you grow in your current position.
|– Learn how to communicate your design |
– Set realistic timeframes for how long a
task will take you.
|Be a Problem |
|– Be willing to do your own research and |
look for solutions before asking for help
– Look for opportunities where you contribute to skills.
|– Don’t take criticism of your designs personally. Remember it’s not an extension of you.|
|Don’t be afraid to be wrong||– Try out new skills and techniques in your work. It’s how you learn and grow.|
for Your Career
|– Attend industry conferences, meetups, |
and network events
– Set career goals and be proactive in reaching them.
– Ask more senior-level designers what did they do to move on from a junior position.