2010 IA Institute Salary and Benefits Survey Released

The IA Institute is pleased to present the 2010 IA Institute Salary and Benefits Survey.

The 2010 survey was conducted from September to December 2010. Members of the IA Institute, IxDA and sigia-l were invited to participate. A total of 282 responses were collected.

Highlights of the 2010 survey include the following:

Median Salary:

  • The highest salary range was a tie between the USD$80,000-90,000 and USD$90,000-100,000 ranges, each representing 12.8% of the total responses.
  • Using midpoints, the average salary was estimated to be USD$95,252, up $5,252 from 2009. (Using midpoints is inexact, particularly since the top and bottom ranges do not have identifiable midpoints.) When excluding the top and bottom ranges, the average salary is USD$97,298, or 2.1% higher, than when these ranges are included.

Freelance Rates:

  • Excluding outliers, the average freelance rate was USD$88.65, up USD$3.65 over 2009. The median rate was USD$85.00 and the modal rate was USD$100.00, with eight people indicating that rate.

Salary by Region:

  • Asia (except India) was the region reporting the highest inferred average, but this was based on only one response. Regions with higher response rates indicate more reliable inferred averages. These include US: West at USD$112,403, US: Northeast at USD$107,618, US: Midwest at USD$98,845, US: South at USD$80,892 and the United Kingdom at USD$80,788.


  • This year, the gender breakdown was 52.7% female and 47.4% male respondents. The inferred average salary for females was USD$90,513, lower than males' salaries (USD$100,533) for the first time since we began tracking this data. Median salary, on the other hand was the same for males and females (USD$94,999, reflecting a modal response in the USD$90,000-$99,999 range).
  • Education level for males and females was similar: 56.2% of women and 53.1% of men reported a Masters Degree as their highest education level. 36.3% of women and 39.4% of men reported a Bachelors Degree as their highest education level. Women have slightly more Doctorate Degrees then men, 4.1% versus 3.6%.

Education Level:

  • The highest level of educational attainment for the majority of respondents is a Master's Degree (52.7%), followed by Bachelor's Degree (39.0%) and Doctorate Degree (3.6%). 95.3% of respondents have at least a Bachelor's Degree.
  • Respondents with a Master's Degree earn 3.5% more than those with Bachelor's Degrees, a small salary advantage. While the number of respondents holding Doctorate Degrees is very low, figures indicate that they earn nearly 49% more than those with Master's Degrees and 54.3% more than those holding Bachelor's Degrees.
  • A higher percentage of respondents have pursued post-baccalaureate degrees than in previous year's surveys, indicating that a degree may be more relevant than in the past for reasons other than pay.

Job Title:

  • The highest response for a Job Title was User Experience Planner/Designer/ Architect (116), followed by Information Architect (54) and Interaction Designer/Architect (39) We also received responses from 11 User Researchers, ten Consultants and ten Executive/President/Owners. Six Usability Engineer/Designers responded. The rest of the titles received fewer than five responses.
  • One change we made to the survey this year was to split out the Experience Level (Junior, Lead, Director, etc.) from the Job Title responses (Information Architect, Interaction Designer, etc). In previous surveys, we would receive dozens of responses under the "Other" column, primarily because the level of seniority did not match the basic job title we presented in the selections. This year we received only six "Other" responses, so we feel we made the right decision.

Experience Level:

  • Most respondents (49.6%) identified their position level as "Senior". Managers made up 11.3% of respondents followed by Juniors and Directors, both at 10.6% and Principals at 5.5%. Freelancers made up 8.4% of respondents.
  • Respondents who have at least ten years of experience in the field reported significantly higher salaries than those reporting less than five years in the field. Between five and 10 years of experience the difference is slight (Averages for single year periods between 1-5 years seem to jump up and down).

Tasks Performed:

  • Most performed tasks include (not necessarily in this order):
    -Strategic work (business models, high-level categorization, scenario development, life cycle assessment)
    -Wireframing/Sitemaps/Process flows
    -Audience definitions/Persona development
    -Usability testing
    -Other user research
    -Content generation/copywriting
    -Content management/strategy
    -Interaction design
  • We have found that 88.5% of respondents perform Wireframing/Sitemaps/Process Flows tasks, while 83.5% perform Interaction Design tasks and 83.1% do some sort of strategic work. Of these tasks, just under 10% indicated that they do Wireframing/Sitemaps/Process Flows or Interaction Design exclusively. And only 2.2% perform Strategic tasks exclusively.

Read the full results of our 2010 Salary Survey online or download the PDF (PDF 340KB 340KB).

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