How much UX designers get paid in the UK: permanent salaries and contract rates
We creatives generally don’t seem to be too confident to talk about money. Yet we want to make sure we get rewarded for our hard work fairly (hey, those MacBook upgrades don’t come cheap, do they?).
Rates in the UK vary from region to region (with those in London generally being the highest), whether you’re on a permanent position (although, is there such thing as a permanent job, eh?) or a contract, and of course depending on the seniority and responsibilities of your role:
Compared to the US counterparts, UK market is not as rewarding (d’oh) — make sure you get the most out of your package. You won’t get an increase if you don’t ask for it (and when you don’t — someone else will).
Tracking the latest salaries & rates
Things change and you need to play by the ear when it comes to pricing yourself. How do you stay on top of the the latest market rates? IT Jobs Watch website pulls salaries from a variety of source (we’ve compiled different UX job boards in our previous blog post), and summarises these country-wide as well as by a particular UK region:
It’s good to have a sense how the salary have been changing lately so you make sure you stay competitive. There’s a section for contract positions too:
Calculating monthly income for contractors
If you’ve decided to work as a contractor in UX, you need to make sure your cash flow is in order, as your clients won’t necessarily be paying you every month (some companies have payment terms where it may take 3 months to settle your invoice) and you may have gaps between your contracts.
Numerous tax laws may get you confused on how much you’re actually going to be getting. Contractor Calculator website comes really handy when you want to calculate your net monthly income based on your daily rate as a contractor.
Once you enter your daily rate, the website will provide a financial summary of your profit and taxes you’ll be paying. Plus, there’s also a contract comparison calculator to see how your pay will change based on different rates.
I highly recommend you taking freelance or contact “gigs” only (!) when you’ve got plenty of experience, as your client will expect you to execute to the highest standard from day one (no onboarding, no training) under extremely tight deadline. You’ll only be able to “bluff your way” for only so long, if you have no clue what you’re doing. No matter how tempting the pay may be — you don’t really want to kill your reputation early in your career (it’s a small world).
Want to learn more? I’m running career & portfolio advice session at The School of UX, where I cover how to become a freelancer, how to prepare your portfolio, places to find jobs and tips for job interviews. (You can book just for one day without attending the entire course; although highly recommended.)
Disclaimer: this article shares my professional experience, and by no means acts as a financial advice, for which you should seek independent professional financial advisor help if needed.