So you’re an aspiring UX designer, looking to make headway in the industry, but have little or no professional experience?
It can be daunting to see “…years of experience wanted” on every job ad you come across. But this doesn’t mean the industry is totally impenetrable.
There’s a growing demand for UX designers across multiple industries and it’s become a popular choice for design, fine arts, or visual media graduates—and those transferring from related fields.
This means that there is any number of entry level UX designer opportunities out there: you just have to know what you’re looking for. So what are some of the best entry level UX designer jobs?
This article will dive into our top picks for UX entry roles and their salaries (via Glassdoor), and take a look at how to go about finding the right entry level UX role.
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- The best entry level UX designer jobs
- How to find the best entry level UX designer jobs
- Closing thoughts
The best entry level UX designer jobs
UX design intern
A common entry point to any creative workplace, the internship model offers students, recent graduates, and others with little to no experience the chance to gain a foothold in the industry.
Typically, a UX design intern should start out with a basic understanding of the user experience landscape. This could include proficiency in relevant programs, such as Sketch, Figma, or the Adobe suite.
A UX design internship is often a general role, and may see you gaining experience in:
- Usability studies
- Basic information architecture
- Building reports
An internship will help to familiarize you with the inner workings of the industry and allow you to forge useful professional contacts that may come in handy down the line. A UX design intern will also gain invaluable experience working alongside researchers, product designers, coders and other experts.
While prior experience of working in the field is not a requirement for most internships, the best UX design internships are very competitive. Holding a relevant degree (in fine arts, graphic design, or computer science) or an equivalent certificate or design bootcamp qualification will greatly help your application.
UX design intern salary: $61,376
Internships are often maligned for their lack of pay, and many interns rely on savings, work a second job, or utilize cost savings to afford the opportunity. That being said, there are still many internships that provide a living wage.
The average UX design internship annual salary is $61,376.
Junior UX designer
Next up is the junior UX designer. Like an internship, this is another of the entry level UX designer jobs that tend to take on a general role, assisting more senior members of the team on various tasks.
These could include:
- Creating journey maps
- Collecting/analyzing feedback
- Coordinating usability testing initiatives
- Writing hand-off documents for frontend developers
The junior UX designer applicants are also typically fresh graduates, or those making early switches in their careers. While work experience is not necessary for this role, demonstrable UX design skills are more interesting to potential employers than institutional qualifications.
In addition to a strong portfolio, junior UX designers are expected to have a good understanding of the UX design landscape. Skills in research, design-thinking, relevant software, and presentation, would also be advantageous.
Unlike the intern, the junior UX designer is a full-time, permanent role. While still modestly paid, the job security of this role provides an excellent base from which to hone your skills and develop within the organization.
Junior UX designer salary: $78,549
The junior UX designer role represents a significant step up in terms of salary from an internship. A junior UX designer can expect around $78,549 annually.
This figure fluctuates depending on experience, location, and so on—with the annual salary ranging from a possible $50,000 to $124,000.
UX researcher or usability researcher
While not a traditional UX designer, the UX researcher is critical to the UX design process. The UX researcher brings a wealth of information on users to the table—crucial to making great product experiences.
Through focus groups, surveys, and interviews, a UX researcher understands the needs and wants of users. This research takes place before the design process starts, and can be the spark point for new design solutions, prototypes, and concepts.
Leaning away from visual design and portfolio, the UX researcher role is more academic in nature. For this reason, most entry level UX researcher positions will demand a bachelor’s degree in computer science, psychology, information science, or related fields.
These roles also expect skills in:
- Usability tests
- Qualitative and quantitative research methods
- Data analysis
In a nutshell, UX researchers are the chief customer advocates within their organization.
UX researcher or usability researcher salary: $97,642
The average UX researcher’s salary in the US is $97,642 but fluctuates between a significant range of $58,000 and $165,000, again depending on experience and location.
UX visual designer
A UX visual designer’s main concern is how a product appears on a screen. In the past, visual designers would have worked on advertisements, brochures, and other media as part of a marketing team. In most organizations today, they have been brought under the banner of UX design.
A UX visual designer’s chief tasks include:
- Creating graphical elements (banners, icons, logos)
- Maintaining brand identity
The role demands a certain artistic flair, but it is also crucial that the visual designer’s work is not too overwhelming or conceptual. Ensuring user accessibility and smooth interaction is key for a visual designer.
While direct experience working in UX visual design is not necessary for an entry level position of this type, a relevant degree (in graphic design, illustration, or fine art) will show you have the chops to succeed. A fantastic portfolio is also a must.
UX visual designer salary: $73,615
The average yearly salary for a visual designer in the United States is $73,615.
UX product designer
Working with researchers and visual designers, the UX product designer focuses on refining and perfecting user experiences within a product. This means coming up with solutions and prototypes to maximize the inclusivity and accessibility of the experience.
Aspiring entry level product designers must demonstrate aptitude in:
- Project management
Because it’s often such a flexible position, understanding coding and front-end development is a bonus to the role. Likewise, having a basic understanding of research, information architecture, design, prototyping, and testing, will serve you well.
UX designer positions tend to be quite elastic, with a lot of overlap between team members.
UX product designer: $109,581
Even at the entry level, UX product designers take direct responsibility for the product. This ownership means the learning curve of job pressure—and salary—is steep in this particular role.
Glassdoor reports that the average product designer can expect a salary of $109,581.
How to find the best entry level UX designer jobs
Rather than aiming for the tech giants, it can be more productive to approach start-ups and SMEs when searching for your first break.
While the big tech companies will indeed hire vast numbers of UX designers, they generally look for a greater experience level, even for starting positions. Start small then move to a bigger organization.
A great place to hunt for the best entry level UX designer jobs is UX job boards. Be sure to check out the following portals and platforms:
- AIGA design jobs
- UX Jobs Board
- CareerFoundry career hub
- Dribbble jobs
- Smashing Jobs
- User Experience Professionals Association
Most of the good stuff will be listed on these boards, so check them on a daily basis for updates (and check out this CareerFoundry piece on 11 outstanding UX job boards).
If you want to be more targeted, create a list of your top 20 target companies and message them directly. Alternatively, subscribe to their job posting updates or set alerts.
Of course, once you’ve found the job applying is another story. Check out the video below to learn more about what UX hiring managers want to see across different experience levels:
The world of entry level UX designer jobs can seem impenetrable, but that needn’t be the case.
If you have an eye for design, an interest in coding or research, or relevant qualifications or certificates—then there’s nothing stopping you from applying to most UX design roles, regardless of your experience level.
One option for pouring rocket fuel on your aspiring career in UX is to attend a UX designer course, such as Careerfoundry’s, which guarantees a job following completion of the program. These hotbeds of UX learning will see you paired with mentors, and surrounded by like-minded peers.
Want to keep exploring ways to break into UX design? Here are a few other articles you might like: