Why is it that we choose the career paths that we do? First, we choose a career path that offers us work we think we’ll enjoy. Secondly, growth and pay packages are both great motivations to pick careers. Product design as a career is, thus, placed uniquely; the work is novel and exciting while a product designer salary too is substantial. Dribble, lists product design as one of the highest-paying design jobs in the world! Moreover, unlike most creative roles where individuals chart their own path, product designer roles are often well defined with career paths and growth trajectories to match.
Before we dive into the details of product designer salary packages and roles, let’s take a quick look at what product design as a field comprises.
What is Product Design?
In simple terms, product design is the process of identifying a market opportunity, clearly defining the problem, developing a proper solution for that problem, and validating the solution with real users (read more about what is product design here).
A product is something that comes out of a need gap in the market. The job of the product designer is to create a product that fills an identified need gap and addresses the consumers pain points. There are several facets of product design, but in the simplest terms, product designers are people who create and refine products to make sure they provide a great user experience.
To be a product designer, one must understand concepts like product lifecycle, costing, pricing, design, and profitability. It is a creative design role that also has a business angle to it. To design a successful product, one must have a handle on the profitability and shelf life of the product.
Types of Product Design
There are mainly three types of product design:
- System Design: This type of design that usually involves sorting products into logical categories. An iconic example would be that of a supermarket where the designer is expected to stock the shelves in the most logical way to increase sales and improve efficiency.
- Process Design: This type of design is used to tackle navigation in a complex system like an airport or an ecommerce website. The navigation of the system here is the main product as it determines User Experience (UX) and sales.
- Interface Design: If we are looking at a product that needs a human-first approach, then interface design is suitable. This type of product design looks at the aesthetic journey of the product. For instance, have you noticed how fast food joints usually have elements of red and yellow in their decor and logo? It is because these colors are associated with hunger and quick gratification.
What is the highest salary of a product designer in the US?
The range of product designer salary packages is quite wide. As per Indeed.com, a product designer in the United States makes between $56,374 to $144,944 per annum. The average salary for a product designer, thus, stands at $90,394.
What affects the average product designer salary in the market?
Every career has a unique set of factors that affect growth and salary structures. Some of these factors, like location, are common across the board. As far as a product designer’s salary package is concerned, the following factors have a primary impact on it:
- Years of experience
1: How does years of experience pay in product design?
Experience has a huge role to play while determining a product designer’s pay package. This is mainly because product design is a handshake between designs aesthetics, usability. and market-readiness. While one can be naturally creative and learn the tools to create products, understanding the market is often a skill that comes with on-the-job experience.
I. Associate Product Designer (Entry Level)
Experience: 0-4 years
Salary: $58,297 and $88,381 per annum
Role: Entry-level product designers are expected to do wireframes and mockups of the product design based on research. They expected to bring novel ideas and a lot of legwork to the table.
II. Product Designer (Mid-Senior)
Experience: 5-8 years
Salary: $92,241 and $130,000 per annum
Role: Product designers with some years of experience behind them should have a clear understanding of design, typography, color theory, and motion principles. They should be abreast of design trends and use them in their work. Technical literacy is a must in this role.
III. Senior Product Designer (Senior)
Experience: 9-12 years
Salary: $109,693 and $150,000 per annum
Role: Senior product designers are responsible for setting the aesthetic tone for the brand and maintaining design consistency. They must also review data and read metrics correctly to decide the future of a product.
IV. Lead or Principal Product Designer/ Manager (Leadership)
Experience: 13-15 years
Salary: $129,838 and $176,500 per annum
Role: Product managers are responsible for leading a design project end-to-end and also handling the marketing side of the product. They must prioritize work and lead their team to deliver on goals.
V. Chief Product Officer (C-suite)
Experience: 15+ years
Salary: As per size of company
Role: The product head is responsible for charting the plan for all the products in a company’s offerings. This role is about managing the overall product plan by looking at profitability, suggesting new products and taking old ones off the market etc.
*Data for salary compiled from User Guiding.
2: Does the product designer salary package change based on location?
Location has an impact on the pay packages in almost every field. However, for product design, this variance in salaries is very pronounced. Some counties or cities have vibrant culture for design professionals and some don’t. For instance, if you are into theater, New York is the place to be. But for motion pictures, you have to move to Los Angeles! So, we have put together a comparative table with the best countries to start a design career.
*Data for salary compiled from Glassdoor
Since, product design as a career is impacted by hyper-local aspects like the culture in a city, we have also looked at the pay scale for product designers in some of the prominent cities in the US.
|San Francisco, CA||$151,297|
|Los Angeles, CA||$140,981|
* Data for salary compiled from Climbtheladder
3: How do skills impact a product designer’s salary?
Product design is a career that is strongly skill-driven. How far you can go in your career path as a product designer is often determined by your skills and not just your educational degrees. According to Indeed.com, the following are the skills that impact a product designer’s salary and career growth:
- Visual Design: Layout, color theory, and typography are critical elements of visual design that a product designer has to ace.
- User Interface (UI) Design: In order to design the UI, the product designer must have copywriting, navigation, and front-end development skills.
- UX Design: For a smooth UX, product designers must be competent at wire framing, prototyping, and information architecture.
- User Research: At the forefront of product design are people who will use the product. So, a research-oriented mindset helps product designers build successful products.
- Soft Skills: Product design is not a hardcore technological job; it involves people skills as well. No individual can build a product by themselves, it requires teamwork, communication, attention to detail, and critical thinking.
And what would be the best way to ace all these skills? Take a course online. Emeritus has a whole range of product design and innovation courses for you to explore.
Frequently asked questions about product designer salary
1: Which companies pay the highest product designer salary?
According to Zippia, the following companies are the best paymasters for product designers:
2: Are product designers in demand?
According to InVision, product design is one of the highest paid design jobs in the world. This is primarily because of the skill gap that exists in the market. So, not only is product design a well paying job, it also offers plenty of scope for growth.
By Anwesha Barari
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