UX designers bridge the gap between the business and the user, acting as the key point of contact for stakeholders, developers, and customers alike. On a day-to-day basis, a huge part of the job involves interviewing users and, in many cases, delivering workshops. Given the highly collaborative nature of UX, you may be wondering: Is it possible to work remotely as a UX designer?
In a word, yes. The remote job market is growing, and UX design is no exception. In this guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about becoming a remote UX designer. We’ll cover:
- What is the remote job market like for UX designers?
- What kinds of companies hire remote UX designers?
- How much do remote UX designers earn?
- How easy is it to become a remote UX designer?
- How to find a remote UX design job
- Key takeaways and next steps
Ready? Let’s jump in.
1. What is the remote job market like for UX designers?
The world of work has changed dramatically in recent months, and for many, the remote lifestyle has become a necessity. Whether or not these changes are temporary, there is no denying that the long-term impact will be huge. Now more than ever, companies are open to the idea of hiring a remote workforce, and it’s predicted that, by 2028, 73% of all teams will have remote workers. Equally, more and more people are seeing the benefits of forging a remote career. The remote job market is growing, and this trend is directly reflected in the UX job market.
So how many remote opportunities are there for UX designers?
The best way to gauge the state of the remote job market for UX designers is to browse current openings on popular job boards. At the time of writing, there are almost a thousand remote UX design vacancies advertised on indeed.com, LinkedIn, and glassdoor alone. That’s without factoring in other UX-related job titles, such as product designer and UX researcher. While this figure may seem small compared to the number of in-house vacancies, it’s important to bear in mind that many companies are still adapting to the idea of remote work. And, in light of the recent global pandemic, the number of remote vacancies is only set to increase (and rapidly!). At the same time, a growing number of employers are taking a flexible approach, encouraging people to work away from the office for at least some of the week—and these opportunities may not necessarily be advertised as remote jobs. In short, there are plenty of remote UX vacancies out there, and the remote market will continue to grow.
2. What kinds of companies hire remote UX designers?
As you can see, there’s a steady stream of opportunities for remote UX designers—but what kinds of companies tend to hire them? Are there certain UX-related job titles that seem to lend themselves to remote work?
According to a report by Owl Labs, small companies are twice as likely to hire fully remote workers. As with in-house UX roles, remote designers can find work in a range of different industries, with many vacancies cropping up in finance, technology, the automotive sector, software, e-commerce, and healthcare. Here at CareerFoundry, our UX design graduates who find remote work end up with job titles such as UX designer, web designer, freelance designer, internet analyst, director of web and digital marketing, customer success manager, and UX researcher—to name just a few.
Again, the best way to get a feel for the kinds of remote jobs available is to browse popular job sites. We’ll share some of the best portals for finding remote UX roles in section five.
3. How much do remote UX designers earn?
If you’re thinking about a career as a remote UX designer, you’re probably wondering about salary—and whether or not it differs from that of an in-house designer. At the time of writing, the average yearly salary for a mid-level UX designer ranges from $86,000 USD to upwards of $134,000 USD depending on years of experience (indeed.com). If you’re just entering the field, you can expect to work your way up to this kind of salary within a few years.
So how do remote designer salaries compare? How much you earn as a remote UX designer depends on several factors, such as where your company is based, whether you’re employed on a full-time basis or working as a freelancer, and on your level of experience. Generally speaking, remote UX designers have just as much earning potential as their in-house counterparts. The average yearly salary for a freelance UX designer based in the United States is $60,542 USD (indeed.com), while the average salary for a remote UX designer is around $84,000 USD (indeed.com).
4. How easy is it to become a remote UX designer?
So far, we’ve established that the job market for remote UX designers is steadily growing—and that freelance and remote UX designers can expect to earn a similar salary to in-house designers, depending on company location and years of experience. But how easy is it to actually become a remote UX designer? Is this a feasible career path?
We mentioned earlier that, by 2028, 73% of all teams will have remote workers. Attitudes towards remote work are shifting, with employers now much more open to the idea of hiring people on a location-independent basis. And, in light of the recent pandemic, a remote career is now much more feasible than ever—and, in some cases, a necessity. With that said, there are still certain challenges that come with building a remote career, especially if you’re new to the field. If you are a new or aspiring UX designer looking to work remote from the get-go, you’ll want to know just how realistic that is. We’ve covered some of the most frequently asked questions relating to remote work below.
Can you work remotely straight from a UX program or course?
An increasingly popular route into the world of UX is through a bootcamp or certification program, especially for those without any prior design experience. Employers are more than happy to hire newly graduated designers; here at CareerFoundry, 96% of our UX graduates find a job within six months of completing the program. And yes, a portion of these graduates go straight into remote jobs, procuring job titles such as UX designer, web designer, freelance designer, director of web and digital marketing, customer success manager, and UX researcher. It is entirely possible to find a remote UX design job straight from your chosen UX program—as long as you can demonstrate the necessary skills through your UX portfolio, and you have the right mentorship and career coaching behind you.
Will you struggle to find remote work with no experience?
There’s no denying that it’s easier to find a job once you’ve got experience, and that goes for both in-house and remote positions. When it comes to remote work, junior and entry-level designers may find fewer opportunities than senior UXers, simply because employers have traditionally tended to train junior designers in-house. However, there are remote opportunities out there for entry-level designers, and the market will grow as companies adapt to more flexible ways of working. And, if you are unable to find a full-time remote position right off the bat, there are other ways to gain experience while remaining flexible, such as taking on freelance gigs through sites like Fiverr or volunteering your design skills to non-profits. As with anything, you may have to work a little harder to prove yourself as a designer before you forge a stable remote career, but it’s absolutely possible.
Will it be easier to get a remote job now because of COVID-19?
COVID-19 forced many businesses to switch to a remote setup, and as yet, there is no way of knowing when—or even if—the world of work will return to normal. What we are seeing now is the emergence of a new normal; employees are reaping the benefits of a more flexible approach to work without the need to commute, while employers are realizing that, with the right infrastructure, it is possible to operate productively beyond the walls of the office. Even if we do get to a point where remote work is no longer a necessity, it will certainly be considered much more feasible—and, in many cases, preferable. The general consensus is that remote work is here to stay, meaning that, yes, it will likely be easier to find a remote job in the current global situation.
5. How to find a remote UX design job
When it comes to building your career as a remote UX designer, there are several things you can do:
- Familiarize yourself with remote tools and processes
- Look in the right places
- Be adaptable in your approach—consider a partly remote or negotiable position to start with if necessary
- Get your portfolio up to scratch
Let’s take a look at each of these points in more detail.
Familiarize yourself with remote tools and processes
First and foremost, it’s important to think about how you’ll adapt your design practice to the remote environment. How will you conduct user research and usability testing? How will you ensure open communication with key stakeholders if you’re not meeting them face-to-face?
Start by familiarizing yourself with tools that will make remote work possible, such as Zoom for meetings, HotJar for user research, and Crazy Egg for user testing. You’ll find a complete guide to the best remote UX tools here.
When you’re going for a remote position, it’s essential to show that you’ve thought about what it means to work remotely on a day to day basis, and that you’ve considered how you’ll overcome some of the challenges associated with remote work. Having a good arsenal of remote tools is an excellent place to start.
Look in the right places
If you’ve got your heart set on a remote UX design position, it’s important to know where to focus your search. While there are a number of job boards dedicated to remote jobs, you’ll still want to browse general job sites too—especially in the current climate, most companies will now be offering remote opportunities without necessarily advertising them as such. CareerFoundry Career Specialist Danielle Sander recommends focusing on companies based in your timezone, and in those areas where you are legally authorized to work. Below are some of our favorite websites for UX design jobs:
- AIGA Design Jobs
- UX Jobs Board
- Just UX Jobs
- Dribbble jobs
Consider a flexible approach (to start with)
Remember that it takes time to build a sustainable career as a remote UX designer. It may not be possible to find a full-time remote job straight away, so it’s important to be flexible in your approach. Consider roles that offer a combination of in-house and remote work; once you’ve established yourself in the company, there’s every chance that your role could evolve to be completely remote. Another way to build up your remote career is to take on freelance work. While this doesn’t always offer the security of a full-time role, it’s a great way to gain experience and remain flexible in the meantime.
Polish your UX design portfolio
Whether you’re searching for in-house or remote jobs, it’s absolutely crucial that your UX design portfolio is up to scratch. Through your portfolio, you’ll showcase your skills and expertise, showing employers not only what you’re capable of, but also what you’re passionate about within the field of design. Is your portfolio ready for the job market? Make sure it adheres to these seven UX portfolio best practices.
6. Key takeaways and next steps
As the world of work evolves and the remote job market continues to grow, UX designers will increasingly find opportunities for flexible and location-independent work. If you’re keen to forge a career as a remote UX designer, it’s essential to adapt your practice to the remote environment, to get to grips with the necessary tools, and to polish up your UX portfolio. In the beginning, you may also need to be open to flexible opportunities—and the good news is, there are plenty of those out there! You can learn more about becoming a remote UX designer in the following: