Head of Design: Salary Insights

We were recently engaged by a client to conduct a search for a Head of Design. Our client is a well-funded early stage B2B2C tech company, with approximately 20 full time employees.

This organization was in need of a Design Leader who could elevate their MVP and create a beautiful user experience. The search requirements included: candidates who had made a significant contribution running design for a company, who had a story about launching a successful product at scale, and who had the ability to communicate effectively with both technical and business stakeholders. Prior to engaging us for the search, our client had spent the better part of a year trying to find the right candidate on their own, with no success.

We presented a range of candidates to our client:

The Mobile Maven: Base salary of $145K

  • Hands-on designer with experience growing into leadership roles for very successful tech companies.
  • Launched a mobile product with over 1 million downloads.
  • Experience leading international design teams of 10+ people.

The Artist: Base salary of $200K

  • Scaled and built a design org for a very high profile B2B2C software vendor.
  • Built and led very large global design teams of 20+.
  • Has owned Product Management as well as Design.

The Dev Shop Diva: Base salary of $120K, with a variable bonus component

  • Design Leader at a Dev Shop with experience running design teams and working on multiple projects.
  • Implemented a strategy that reduced in-house app design from 12-16 weeks to 3-4 weeks per app.
  • Created systems that streamlined workflows, made a significant impact on customers and internal stakeholders, and saved their organization time and resources. 

The Startup Superstar: Base salary of $115K

  • Was the first design hire at a startup, and built the organization of UI/UK designers.
  • Responsible for several digital products, and experienced at building from strategy to deployment to success in market.
  • Focused on mentoring their teams to greater success—a hands on leader.

The In-Demand Designer: Base salary of $185K

  • B2B Design Design leader employed at a household name tech start up.
  • Early career included designing large scale B2B mobile applications that scales to the masses.
  • Experienced establishing design standards and managing teams.

The Hire: Base salary was 140K, with a variable bonus component

  • Hands on design leader at a dev shop, operating at a very senior level, with a portfolio of clients.
  • Experienced managing large teams who were tackling complex design problems.
  • Demonstrated ability to translate a technically complex product into a delightful experience.  
  • Experienced launching new products in market on behalf of multiple enterprise customers.
  • Able to express a product vision effectively across all levels of an organization.

To attract the candidate they hired, our client offered a base salary of $175K, a variable bonus of 20% based on company performance, 1% equity in the company, four weeks vacation, and reimbursement for commuting expenses.

As you can see, compensation for these candidates varies significantly based on the length and scope of experience, and leadership capability.

* * * * *

For organizations and job seekers alike, it can be challenging to understand what a particular position should pay. Often, it’s a calculation between salary surveys that lack all context, what a person has earned in the past, and ad hoc conversations with others in the field.

We’re sharing market insights into current compensation packages for key roles in the tech industry. Our recruiters conduct targeted searches on behalf of our clients, seeking out candidates who fit the requirements of the role, and diligently qualifying them to present only the very best talent. These posts are meant to highlight the contextual elements that make up compensation, and to help our clients and candidates better understand the current market forces that affect earning potential.

Is your organization hiring key talent that will drive your growth? Book a consultation with our friendly and knowledgeable team today—we live and breathe the tech talent ecosystem every day, and can help you understand the market for the talent you need.

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