New York Is the Place to Be for UX Design Jobs

By BrainStation November 15, 2018
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UX design is considered the fastest-growing field in tech right now, and there’s no better place to see this in action than the Big Apple.

The city ’s local tech and media organizations, including Buzzfeed, Vox Media, Kickstarter, and FourSquare, and the fact that major global organizations are looking for a New York address – you might have heard the news about Amazon – is quickly increasing the demand for UX Design specialists.

“The tech boom has led to an increase in our UX design services,” confirmed Monica Alvarez-Mitchell, Founder and CEO of the New York-based Pulse Creative.

“It started with app front-end development needs but for us has branched into proprietary B2B platforms for our business and fintech industry clients.”

Here are some reasons behind this trend,  and how this demand for user experience experts is changing New York’s tech employment landscape.

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The New York Tech Market is Red-Hot

As we recently discussed, New York has added more than 76,000 technology jobs over the last decade (with 14,350 new software engineering jobs).

There are now more than 7,500 New York-based tech companies based in the city, fueled by nearly $40 billion of investment in the past five years alone. These companies take up nearly 17 million square feet of Manhattan office space and employ more than 120,000 people — a whopping 60 percent more than a decade ago.

Of course, in addition to New York’s bustling startup scene, the likes of Google and Microsoft have invested in innovative new offices in Manhattan, while even a less traditionally tech-associated organization like J.P. Morgan Chase has spent major money on a sprawling New York tech hub.

The Salaries are Higher

Similar investments have also been made in New York’s people.

CBRE’s 2018 Tech Talent Report found that average wages in the tech field in New York grew 17.1 percent from 2012-17, while average wages in tech-adjacent occupations – including user experience design and other marketing professions – grew 29.2 percent.

Looking deeper at User Experience Designers, New York is indeed a lucrative place to work. A Medium study combining Glassdoor and Robert Half forecasts pegged the average midpoint starting salary for UX Designers in New York at $130,665 – far more than Chicago ($114,855), Seattle ($112,530), Denver ($101,370), or Miami ($99,045). The national median was projected at only $93,000.

Demand for UX Designers is Growing Fast

Indeed ranked UX/UI Designer as the fifth-most in-demand role in tech. An Adobe study found that 87 percent of Managers said hiring more UX Designers was their organization’s top priority, while 73 percent vowed to hire more UX Designers over the next five years. Already, 63 percent had hired five or more UX Designers in the previous year.

But even with that environment, the same study found that the New York market for UX design talent stood out. In all, there was a 39 percent increase in hiring for UX professionals in New York – far more than any other American city. The next highest was Chicago at merely 29 percent.

NYC’s Diversity of Industry is a Boon for UX

As the country’s center of commerce, New York has large finance, media, healthcare, publishing, and advertising sectors, and this diversity of industry is helping tech companies attract top talent. It also feeds into the very nature of User Experience Design work.

A study by usability experts Jakob Nielsen and Susan Farrell found that UX Designers need to wear many hats. The average respondent had worked on five different platforms in their career, while 67 percent had worked on mobile apps, 60 percent on enterprise applications, and 54 percent on traditional desktop software.

They also had to be nimble enough to apply their skills across many different companies and industries. Nielsen and Farrell’s study found that the UX Professionals who responded had worked on 78 different categories of products, from medical devices to home theaters and power grid systems.

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“All of these products need usability and all of these fields employ at least some user experience professionals,” they observed.

Emsi’s job posting analytics, meanwhile, revealed that the hard skills most frequently sought after include CSS, Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, photo editing and web design.

While Alvarez-Mitchell says that Pulse does prioritize several technical skill profiles – designers need to be experts in Photoshop and Sketch, while programmers need to know how to code in HTML, CSS, Jquery, PHP, and Javascript while also understanding mobile responsive design needs – she emphasizes that a holistic grasp of design is crucial for her employees.

“Our teams have had to become visual strategists,” Alvarez-Mitchell said. “The need for understanding intuitive user logic is fast becoming the main requirement from our clients.”

Ready to get started? BrainStation offers several programs that cover the skills and concepts required to help you become a User Experience Designer, including full-time and part-time programs at our campuses in New York, Toronto, and Vancouver, as well as a part-time Online Live option.