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UX research jobs on Indeed grew from 8.9 per 100 UX design jobs in 2013 to 35.7 per 100 in 2022, dipped to 33.2 in 2023

UX Research Job Postings Show the Discipline is Here to Stay

Ten years of Indeed data suggest companies have increasingly prioritized hiring researchers.

Kathryn Brookshier
August 2023

User research has become an expected best practice for many companies today to surface user needs and develop usable products. Historically, product managers or UX generalists often did the research, rather than dedicated UX researchers. But that may be changing. 

In the last decade, companies have shown growing interest in hiring UX research specialists. In 2013, it was relatively rare for US employers to hire for such a role or function — for every UX research job listed on Indeed in 2013, there were more than ten UX designer jobs. Today, US employers post one UX research job per three UX design jobs they list. 

While it’s hard to predict the future, the trend shows UX research becoming increasingly established.

I’m a mixed methods UX research manager at Indeed, and I’ve taken a look at 10 years’ worth of Indeed data in the US with normalized titles from job postings. The data are clear: The proportion of UX research jobs compared to UX design jobs continues to grow.

Chart title: UX research takes up a growing share of UX jobs, UX research jobs per 100 UX design jobs in the US on Indeed
The proportion of UX research jobs as compared to UX design jobs on Indeed steadily increased from 2013 through 2022. In 2023, the proportion of hiring for UX research roles compared to UX design roles fell slightly, but stayed elevated.

The recent drop in open roles is the only break in the trend. And yet, less than a year’s worth of research representation gains within UX openings have been erased during the tech market backslide. Data from the first half of 2023 show that UX research openings have only pulled back a fraction more than UX design openings have.

The past three years were an exceptional time. The number of all UX roles grew wildly after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Then the job market cooled; recent Indeed data show UX job listings in the US have plunged in the past year. Thus far, it’s still likely the full-year total of UX research roles in 2023 will be higher than in the year before the pandemic.

Job posts indexed to Q1 2018; UX research rose to 566% in Q1 2022, fell to 153% in Q2 2023; UX design rose to 265%, fell to 77%
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, there was a slight drop in positions available, but skyrocketing demand in 2021 and 2022 brought in new opportunities. The latter half of 2022 and the first half of 2023 show slowing demand for hiring, but research maintained gains compared to other roles.

That the UX research discipline is holding steady feels counterintuitive; widespread tech layoffs have put many UX professionals on the hunt for a new job, contributing to steeper competition for open roles. In the near term, it’s possible the UX research discipline continues to grow proportionally but that there isn’t an open role for everyone who wants one.

Job posts indexed to Q1 2018; coding rose to 404% in Q1 2022, fell to 124% in Q2 2023; product management rose to 381% in Q2 2022, fell to 115%
Tech roles beyond UX like software engineering and product management have seen similar pullbacks in open roles. Among them, UX research has made the largest proportional gains.

The erasure of some jobs due to layoffs has not led to an erasure of the UX research discipline. In fact, the data show that the gains made in recent years outpace other tech disciplines. Companies still need deep knowledge of user needs to build sticky products and differentiate themselves. That’s where UX researchers come in. We help connect the dots, identifying tactical user interface improvements and strategic business opportunities to better serve users.

UX research may have once been a niche role in tech. But the last decade has seen UX research surge and consequently shift the proportion of researchers compared to other roles at companies. Despite the tech winter the industry is facing — rife with layoffs and hiring freezes — the data show the UX research discipline is here to stay.

Kathryn Brookshier headshot
Kathryn BrookshierUX Research Manager at Indeed

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