UX designers see pay cuts as other design sectors grow in 2022

Recruitment data from 2022 shows a “rebalancing” of in-demand sectors such as UX and a hesitancy to recruit junior designers.

A stabilising jobs market is signifying the end of a pandemic recruitment “bubble”, according to new data from global recruitment agency Aquent, based on its design placements made in the UK in the past year.

Aquent’s annual salary guide shows that as the job market stabilises, with a slow-down from the “hiring frenzy” of 2021, normal levels of salary growth are being recorded for most sectors.

Exceptions are UX design, which saw a significant pay cut compared to 2021’s sharp rise, while economic uncertainty and remote working are causing hesitancy in hiring junior talent.

Yet the report also cautions that despite showing growth, inflation reaching 9.6%, according to ONS data, means that “many marketing and creative talents are seeing real-term pay cuts”.

UX bubble bursts

For two years a rapid growth in demand for UX and CX roles has resulted in “skyrocketing wages” for these sectors, with some top-end senior roles seeing a salary increase of up to 50%. For 2022, these “artificially inflated” salaries are seeing a “rebalancing”, Aquent says.

But while UX designers have seen the biggest drops – up to 11% (-£5,000) for juniors, 12.5% (-£10,000) for midweight and as much as 33% (-£40,000) for seniors – product designer salaries remain the same, and account directors have seen up to a 13% increase, while freelance day rates for UX specialists and developers are still on the rise – earning approximately £50 more per day than in 2021.

Continued demand for video content

Areas which continue to show hiring demand are video, motion graphics and 3D animation. Senior video editors and senior video producers have experienced wage increases of up to 23% (£15,000), while junior and midweight video producers have seen jumps of up to 14%(£5,000) and 10%(£5,000) respectively.

Senior 3D visualiser salaries have climbed by up to 25% (£10,000) and senior 3D animators’, by as much as 10% (£5,000). Junior and midweight 3D animators are seeing growth too, with their salaries climbing by up to 12%.

Junior designers still at a disadvantage

Following two years of a tough hiring market for junior designers, they continued to face difficulties in 2022.

Salary increases have been seen for senior digital designers, senior graphic designers and senior integrated designers, showing a rise of 10% (£5,000) on average compared to the last year. But while junior and midweight designers experienced growth in 2021, their salaries have stagnated for 2022.

According to Aquent, there has also been a hesitancy to hire junior talent in the design sector as companies are opting for more experienced workers, who require less guidance and training in remote and hybrid working environments.

Aliza Sweiry, Aquent UK managing director comments, “There is no denying that the past few years have been quite unusual on all levels. We experienced unprecedented changes in the way we work and this has affected salaries across the industry in various different ways.”

“The marketing and creative industries are still performing brilliantly and there are plenty of opportunities for growth. This may be a challenging time for junior employees to make their debut in the job market but showing off the skills they bring to the table will definitely help them stand out and make their mark.”

Aquent was unable to confirm the 2022 sample size at the time of publication, but in 2021 the data set was made up of around 2000 designers being placed in jobs.

Banner image is courtesy of Shutterstock.





Start the discussionStart the discussion
  • Post a comment

Latest articles