How much money does a Senior Product Designer make

How much money does a Senior Product Designer make?

By Magic Brick

An answer backed by unsolicited offers in their inbox without any negotiation.

Product designers in tech are typically paid in base salary, bonus, and equity—and data on this topic vary quite a bit. Even with some US states now requiring that the salary band be included in the job description, it only cites the base salary. The other variable is the term ‘Senior,’ which can be used for anyone with 4—10 years of experience depending on the company. With all these variables, the spread of total compensation (TC) seems to vary from $50,000—$1,000,000+ USD per year. And Glassdoor data averages much lower than and Blind data.

Here’s another data set — a senior product designer (non-FAANG résumé, 8 years of experience, & at the center of the matrix of domination) inbox with salary bands (non-FAANG) from July 2021 — July 2022. All offers are based in USD and are annualized.

Email #1

Lead role — 160k (Agency)

This is from a design agency in a high-cost-of-living area (HCOL). Agencies typically don’t offer equity and bonuses are hit or miss, so the total compensation is $160k.

Email #2

Senior role — greater than $160k (Private company)

This $160k is citing the base salary only. This means bonus and equity are added to this. With an average bonus being 10%, that’s an extra $16k. The wild card is private equity — it could be anywhere from $100k to $1M over four years. But if they don’t go public, the equity can’t be counted. So let’s keep it simple, this unsolicited offer probably comes in at $176k.

Email #3

Senior role — $170k (Publicly traded)

Since the plus signs are after the solid $170k number, I’m going to assume that’s referring to the base salary and the other items will be tacked on to get a total compensation figure. $170k + $17k = $187k, and we can count some public equity… These figures vary a ton, but don’t go as high as private equity, so let’s just say this senior living in a HCOL area can negotiate a $200k equity package over four years. That’s not too high, nor too low — it’s $50k extra a year at the current trading price. So this offer could come in at $237k per year.

Email #4

Lead role — $120k (Unspecified company)

We don’t know what company this is from because the recruiting firm doesn’t specify. So all we know is the offer comes in at $120k with no bells or whistles.

Email #5

Senior role — $140k (Unspecified company)

This one is also non-specific. But they do say “salary of up to $140k,” which means cash. And they are only asking for four years of experience — so this is an early career senior role.

Email #6

Lead role — $210k (Private company)

This offer is for a private company and shows a base salary band of up to $210k, probably for more experience in a HCOL area. Bonus isn’t mentioned, and lots of companies roll sans-bonus, so we’ll not include it. “Significant equity” leads me to believe this is one willing to hand out one of those high equity packages. Let’s just pretend that the equity package comes in at $700k for their current evaluation. That would be $175k extra per year, which brings the total compensation up to $385k per year. If this company goes public, that $700k could also double or 10x. But that is very rare. There are a lot of big IFs in this scenario. If you don’t believe this company is going to go public while you’re employed there though, you could sell your private shares on the private market (if allowed), and turn some of this vapor money into real money. Let’s say you did that to half of your shares over the four years, and not factor in any refreshers (new shares from raises and promotions). You could make out with $297.5k per year in cash.

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