UX Researcher Salary: What You’ll Make and Why

UX researchers make around $87,000 to $132,000 on average in the US, depending on experience, location, skills, and other factors.
UX researcher works in the office

How much does a UX researcher make?

A UX researcher’s average salary in the US ranges between $87,818 and $132,004, according to various salary aggregate websites. Average base salaries for UX researchers in the US, as of June 2021 are as follows:

PayscaleZipRecruiterRobert HalfSalary.comGlassdoor
$87,818$87,941$89,000$90,321 (median)$132,004

Keep in mind: Salary aggregate websites often rely on data submitted by individuals using the site. Some websites may have received larger amounts of higher- or lower-than-average salaries that can affect the site’s calculated average.

Read more: What Is a UX Researcher? How to Get the Job

What influences a salary?

Salaries of UX researchers can fluctuate widely depending on experience, location, and additional compensation on top of your base salary.

Experience and titles

Salary increases are generally tied to your experience level, and subsequently your title. For example, an associate UX researcher—”associate” being an indicator for an early-career position—typically earns less than a mid- or senior-level UX researcher. The more experience you gain, the more likely you’ll be trusted with responsibilities, opening a path to promotions and salary increases.

TitleAverage base salary in US (Glassdoor, as of 2021)
Associate UX researcher$88,885
Junior UX researcher$124,635
UX researcher$132,004
Senior UX researcher$132,862
Lead UX researcher$148,312

Location

It’s no secret that some cities are more expensive to live in than others. To compensate for the increased cost of living and attract top talent, companies located in expensive areas can offer a salary that reflects the discrepancy. 

Here’s a sampling of what you might make across various big and medium-sized cities in the US.

CityAverage base salary (Glassdoor)
San Francisco, CA$140,956
New York, NY$139,881
Seattle, WA$138,693
Los Angeles, CA$127,596
Austin, TX$119,723
Washington, DC$110,862
Madison, WI$106,298
Des Moines, IO$104,260
Saint Louis, MO$87,471
Chicago, IL$84,384
Colorado Springs, CO$75,497
Cincinnati, OH$63,970

Benefits, perks, and bonuses

In the US, your salary is generally accompanied by a benefits package and some perks. These can include health insurance, paid vacation days, stock options, parental leave, or even gym reimbursements, transportation subsidies, and the chance to work from home. It’s a good idea to keep this in mind when offered a job. Sometimes a less-than-desirable salary can be offset by a benefits package that can save you money on your commute, or perks that allow you to live the lifestyle you want to live. If you’re trying to negotiate a higher salary but haven’t been successful, you might be able to negotiate an expanded benefits package.

Some companies can also offer bonuses at various points in the year. These can be based on individual, team, or company-wide performance. Though it’s hard to predict ahead of time, you can ask a hiring manager if giving out bonuses is typical of a company.

How does this compare to similar jobs? 

UX research is one among many types of UX jobs. Here’s how it stacks up, salary-wise, against some others (according to Glassdoor).

  • Human factors researcher: $75,837

  • Product researcher: $76,308

  • UX writer: $109,390

  • UX designer: $102,762

  • UI designer: $91,124

  • UX engineer: $123,533

How to increase your salary

Looking for a way to boost your salary? Here are a few ways to consider.

  • Expand your skills: UX researchers have several ways to test a product’s viability. Expanding the tools you know how to use can improve your company’s insight into its customers and its products. A/B testing, card sorting, tree sorting, constructing user personas, conducting user interviews, and analytics research are a few of the different tools a UX researcher can use. If you see any gaps in your company’s current research methods, you might approach your manager to see if you’d be able to spearhead an effort to fill them. 

  • Ask for a raise: Though it can be intimidating, sometimes the simplest way to increase your salary is to ask your manager. When approaching your boss, talk about past performance reviews, and bring some data on how exactly your company has benefited from your work. You should also have a target salary in mind, and be prepared to negotiate. 

  • Go back to school: Hiring managers for UX researchers often look for candidates with at least a bachelor’s degree, but frequently call for those with master’s degrees, or even PhDs. Getting an advanced degree in human-computer interaction, psychology, behavioral science, or a related social science degree can boost your earning potential. After all, higher levels of education are correlated with higher incomes [1].

Getting started on Coursera

The world of UX might seem like a foreign and intriguing space to those on the outside. It doesn’t have to stay that way. For those who are just starting to explore the UX world, consider the Google UX Design Professional Certificate. Besides introducing you to a host of foundational UX design tools and methods, the coursework will teach you how to plan a UX research study, and apply your findings to modify designs.

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Article sources

1. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Usual Weekly Earnings of Wage and Salary Workers First Quarter 2021, https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/wkyeng.pdf." Accessed June 4, 2021.

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