Current state of the UX job market

Market saturation and industry layoffs

Many believe the UX job market is overly saturated. One factor contributing to the perception of saturation is the prevalence of large-scale layoffs within the traditional tech sector. Companies like Meta, Alphabet, and Microsoft have made headlines with workforce reductions, causing an atmosphere of uncertainty.

Despite perceptions of saturation, the UX job market remains strong, with continued demand for skilled professionals across various industries.

To prevent panic, it’s important to contextualize these layoffs within broader industry dynamics. The influx of hiring during the pandemic years created an unsustainable hiring frenzy, leading to subsequent adjustments to restore equilibrium. Despite these fluctuations, the overarching trend in the tech sector remains one of growth and innovation.

Enduring demand for skilled UX professionals

Contrary to perceptions of saturation, the UX job market still has its allure and relevance. Amidst evolving technologies and shifting consumer behaviors, the demand for user-centric design expertise continues unabated. This demand stems from a fundamental need across industries to deliver intuitive digital experiences.

As organizations prioritize user satisfaction and engagement, the role of UX professionals is growing more and more important when shaping product development and working towards brand loyalty.

Nuanced view of industry trends

Forrester’s Global Tech Market Forecast for 2023-2027 predicts a 5.3% growth in global tech spending in 2024, indicating resilience and continued expansion despite temporary setbacks in specific companies.

While headlines may portray a grim outlook, it’s essential to recognize that these high-profile layoffs represent only a fraction of the tech industry workforce. Reports from industry analysts like Forrester and CompTIA paint a more nuanced picture of the global tech industry’s trajectory.

UX job postings are decreasing

One primary trend in the UX job market is the significant decrease in job postings observed in recent years, particularly from 2022 to 2023. According to data from job site Indeed, there was a staggering 73% decrease in UX research job postings and a 71% decrease in UX designer job openings during this period. While these figures may initially raise concerns about the state of the industry, a deeper examination reveals a more nuanced reality.

Comparing these recent declines to longer-term trends provides valuable context. Before the onset of the pandemic, the UX job market demonstrated steady growth, with job openings increasing consistently over several years.

For example, between 2018 and 2023, there was a notable 53% increase in UX research job openings. Similarly, while the decline from 2022 to 2023 appears stark, it represents only a 23% decrease when viewed in the context of job openings from 2018 to 2023.

As industries adapt to changing circumstances and prioritize sustainable growth, fluctuations in job postings are to be expected.

This broader perspective details the natural maturation of the UX industry rather than a sign of decline. The recent downturn in UX job postings reflects a return to more normalized levels after a period of heightened hiring activity during the pandemic.

Will AI replace UX designers?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has undeniably changed countless industries, including UX design. One cannot ignore its impact on the way designers approach their work. AI has brought about automation and optimization in many aspects of the UX design process, ranging from user research to prototyping.

  • World Economic Forum’s predictions: According to the World Economic Forum’s predictions, AI will indeed reshape the job market. It’s important to note, however, that it won’t entirely replace human designers. The Forum forecasts that while AI will transform existing jobs, it will also create numerous new digital jobs by 2030.
  • Role of AI in UX design: New AI plays a significant role in almost all aspects of UX design. For instance, AI-powered tools can analyze large sets of data to identify user patterns and preferences, aiding designers in making data-driven decisions. Additionally, AI assists in automating repetitive tasks, allowing designers to focus more on creativity and problem-solving.

Despite the advancements in AI, it cannot fully replace human designers due to the inherently human-centric nature of UX design. While AI can analyze data and processes, it lacks the emotional intelligence and empathy required to understand human behavior fully. UX design involves more than data analysis; it requires creativity, empathy, and human connection, elements that AI cannot replicate.

3 major growth sectors for UX jobs

While the tech sector has seen a slowdown in UX job growth, other industries are experiencing a surge in demand for UX designers. Three major sectors driving this growth include government and civil service, the finance industry, and the medical sector.

Each of these sectors is undergoing digital transformation, leading to an increased focus on providing exceptional user experiences.

1. Government and civil service

The UK government has demonstrated a significant commitment to its digital infrastructure and services, recognizing the pivotal role of user experience (UX) in delivering efficient and user-friendly platforms.

UK Government’s Digital Transformation Initiative: The UK government has pledged to hire for 2,500 tech and digital roles by June 2025, a huge investment in its digital workforce.

As part of its digital transformation agenda, the government has prioritized hiring for tech and digital roles while emphasizing the importance of UX and data integration. This initiative reflects a proactive approach to modernizing government services and making sure they meet the evolving needs of citizens.

2. Finance industry

Traditional banks and financial institutions are facing increasing competition from digital disruptors, prompting them to invest heavily in digital transformation initiatives and UX improvements. Companies such as NatWest Group, JPMorgan, and Morgan Stanley are prioritizing UX to deliver intuitive digital banking experiences.

  • NatWest Group’s digital transformation strategy: NatWest Group allocated $2.3 billion towards its digital transformation strategy in 2022, signaling a substantial investment in modernizing its digital infrastructure and services. By prioritizing UX improvements, NatWest aims to remain competitive in the rapidly evolving fintech landscape.
  • Establishment of dedicated UX divisions: Recognizing the importance of UX in driving customer satisfaction and retention, major financial institutions like JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley have established dedicated UX divisions. These divisions are tasked with spearheading UX initiatives and implementing innovative design solutions to improve the overall digital banking experience.

3. Medical sector

With the rise of the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), companies are focusing on developing digital healthcare solutions that prioritize usability and accessibility for patients, driving the demand for skilled UX designers.

The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) market is growing; with projections indicating a market size of $187.6 billion by 2028, compared to $13.23 billion in 2020. This exponential growth shows the increasing importance of UX in designing intuitive and user-friendly healthcare solutions.

Companies operating within the medical sector are placing a strong emphasis on usability and accessibility when developing digital healthcare solutions. Prioritizing UX design principles lets these companies improve patient experiences, healthcare delivery, and overall outcomes.

Key takeaways for the UX job market in 2024

Despite perceptions of saturation, the UX job market remains strong, with continued demand for skilled professionals across various industries. While fluctuations in job postings have been observed in some sectors, the overall outlook for the UX job market in 2024 is positive, driven by ongoing investments in digital transformation and user experience enhancements.

Continued demand for skilled professionals:

Despite challenges posed by external factors such as the pandemic and economic uncertainty, the demand for skilled UX professionals persists across industries. Companies recognize the value of UX in driving customer satisfaction, retention, and overall business success.

Investments in digital transformation:

Businesses are increasingly investing in digital transformation initiatives to stay competitive and meet consumer expectations. As a result, the demand for UX designers is expected to remain steady, if not increase, as companies prioritize digital experiences for their customers.

Growth sectors:

Certain sectors, including government, finance, and healthcare, offer promising opportunities for UX designers. These industries are undergoing rapid digitization and are actively seeking talented individuals who can contribute to the development of user-centric and innovative digital solutions.

Importance of differentiation:

In a competitive job market, differentiation is key for candidates seeking employment opportunities in UX design. Acquiring top-quality skills, staying updated on industry trends, and showcasing a strong portfolio are essential for standing out and securing desirable positions.

Alexander Procter

May 30, 2024

7 Min