The 8 Career Options For UI/UX Designers

To have a fulfilling design career, you need to know all your options.

In my 15+ years of a design career, I’ve tested most of these options in some form or another or at least researched and considered them.

I hope this list helps you make the right choice for this moment in time. Heads up: these descriptions are completely biased and formed based on my own experience.

In no particular order, let’s dive in.

Product company

You work on a single product or ecosystem of products. Most likely in a team of designers.

Pros: The company values design. It’s a great portfolio piece. Top range salary

Cons: Pressure to perform, you work with a lot of people. You lose the sense of direct impact to the business or customer. Take part in meaningless corp initiatives.

Niche consultant

You specialise in an industry or a problem and you get hired by companies on project bases or on a retainer contract.

Pros: Freedom to choose your projects. You can earn more than the top range salary. Instant credibility in the form of clients.

Cons: You have to do your own marketing and sales; if you are bad at the first two, you get unpredictable income. You might get bored with the niche.

Design agency

You work on multiple projects in different industries on more marketing focus projects.

Pros: A variety of projects. Agency values design. An opportunity for experimental and creative work.

Cons: Jumping between projects on a daily basis. Mid-range salary. Short deadlines create a tense working vibe. The main focus is on how to make something look cool and sell more.

Entrepreneur

You create service or product companies and you hire people to help you.

Pros: You can make a lot of money. You get control of your time and choose what to work on. You delegate the work you don’t like to do.

Cons: There is a big risk of you spending all your money and not creating the business you incision. Often the first ten years are grand and burnout is very common.

Solopreneur

You do consulting and create a portfolio of small product businesses that you run yourself with help of automation.

Pros: You tailor your business to the lifestyle you want. You have the potential to earn significantly more than a salary. Your income is not tied to the time you work. You are not dependent on your boss or employees.

Cons: Could take five to ten years before you can replace your salary. Could be lonely. You do everything. You need to learn automation and other tools that do some of the boring work.

Freelancer

You work for people or companies and you charge per hour or per project.

Pros: You pick your projects. You have midday naps. If you are good, you can make more than a top-range salary.

Cons: It’s difficult to differentiate from the rest of the freelancers. You have to do your own marketing and sales; if you are bad at it, you get unpredictable income. Could be lonely.

Dev shop

You design custom software for a variety of customers and niches.

Pros: The working vibe is chill. You are the person that sets the design standards in the company. The work is not challenging.

Cons: Forced corporate culture. Could be boring. The company does not care about design much. Not a lot of portfolio-worthy projects.

Big Corp

You work on a software team in a big company that has different core business and design software; it’s not their main capability.

Pros: The salary is good. The working vibe is chill. You are the person that sets the design standards for the team. The work is not challenging.

Cons: No opportunity for growth as a designer. Could be boring. The company does not care about design much. Not a lot of portfolio-worthy projects.

As creatives, we like novelty, so mixing and matching are completely fine.
You can switch over time or do multiple options at the same time.

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Product Designer. Writing about creating a one-person design business. designsolo.co

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Vasil Nedelchev

Vasil Nedelchev

Product Designer. Writing about creating a one-person design business. designsolo.co

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