The role of a designer

neon digital sign

We’ve come a long way since the Web 2.0 era. What used to be simply called a “web designer,” and was seen as a less important part of an engineering team, has now cleaved into various niche roles including UX designers, UI designers, interaction designers, marketing designers, product designers.

Designers have now earned a seat at the decision making table alongside their engineering counterparts.


Designers are now specialists in today’s market. The need for every type of designer is enormous, and in many cases on par with demand for engineers. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects more than a 20 percent employment growth rate for web developers (how they classify designers) by 2022, creating about 28,500 job openings in an industry that already has over 140,000.

“We have seen an increase in the need for all kinds of designers, with a dramatic increase in design leads for early stage companies. We've also seen a substantial surge in compensation for both junior and senior level design talent. Many of our start-up clients can't ship product without a design team in place. So, the need has become absolutely criticial to success in the early stages.” - Edward Hooper, Senior Executive Recruiter, New York.

There is still a lot of gray area around title and responsibilities in the design world, but here are just a few of the niche designer roles we're seing increased hiring activity for in urban markets like San Francisco and New York:

Visual/marketing designers

Visual/marketing designers develop layout and make aesthetic choices, choose color palettes, create logos and branding collateral, and often have a hand in creating “offline” collateral as well - brochures, business cards, etc. They use software programs such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator to work with images, symbols, typography, and colors to create digital and printed experiences that draw us in.

Most visual/marketing designers have a bachelor’s degree from a reputable arts college, although not necessarily in their field, and not always. Agencies often produce fantastic talent on the visual side.

User experience (UX) designers

UX designers create intuitive design for complex software and internet products so the average person can easily use them. It also includes all other elements of design into one cohesive unit. CNN Money recently called the User Experience Designer one of the “Best Jobs in America,” citing a median pay of $95,600 and a bevy of jobs in the marketplace: 3,426,000 at last count. This is without a doubt the hottest skill set in design and the most lucrative.

User interface (UI) designers

Experts in how people use products, UI designers are the creative minds behind your smartphones, tablets, and laptops. They create an interface with which users can touch and feel the product. User interface designers are usually involved with usability testing, ensuring that their design decisions are working for the end user. CNN cites a nearly 25 percent projected job growth in the next ten years.

Mobile app designers

“Nearly every start-up in Silicon Valley is scrambling to secure knowledge in iOS and Android design. The best mobile designers have enormous opportunity from a career growth and financial standpoint as all of the best start-ups trying to keep up with the latest innovation and developments in mobile design." - Anna Meyer, Senior Consultant at Robert Walters California.

Mobile app design has exploded to become one of the most important skill sets in the design field. These are the talented folks who are pioneering the way we use our mobile devices and have significant impact over the daily activities of any mobile user. Mobile app designers can make or break any iOS or Android application and are in extremely short supply given the exponential increase in demand for their services. 292,000 new jobs are projected to open up in this field in the next decade.

Regardless of your niche, the most important qualities designers can possess have stayed the same over the years: a keen design sense, inspired creativity, user understanding, and the knack for turning left-brained ideas into right-brained design. Designers take technical functionality and make it usable for humans. The career of a designer will be a safe and lucrative path for years to come.

Find out how much designers are earning in New York and San Francisco with our Global Salary Survey. Request a free copy, download the US version, or download the app for Apple or Android devices.

The need for every type of designer is enormous, and in many cases on par with demand for engineers.

Start your job search today.

For more information, please contact:

Edward Hooper, Senior Executive Recruiter - NY
+1 212 704 9900