Leadership UX/UI Roles


We’ve covered Junior UX/UI roles, we’ve explored Midweight UX/UI roles and even discussed Senior UX/UI roles.

It’s time to talk about the big dogs, Leadership UX/UI roles!

Leadership Roles

UX/UI is a broad and expanding field better described as a spectrum. The roles can generally be divided into four categories:
Interface, Research, Information and Strategy.

However, when looking at leadership level roles, they can generally be categorised into two categories: Leadership roles and Subject Matter Expert (SME) roles.

Leadership roles involve more management responsibilities including handling the budget, keeping on top of deadlines, prioritising projects, hiring the right people and so much more

SME’s tend to be the best at what they do. They will be the most senior designer, copywriter, researcher, etc. They are more hands-on with the execution of the projects themselves.

What's usually expected in these roles

The exact responsibilities of each role may differ depending on the size and type of company you work for. 

At this level, the roles often have one of four titles:


  • Often the most senior position in an organisation. 
  • Usually only exist in larger organisations with a large team to oversee.
  • Highly strategy based, has full responsibility over profits and losses. 
  • Will usually have the most experience, many roles advertise 12+ years as a requirement.

Head of __

  • In a large organisation, this role would report to the director. There may be multiple Heads within the UX/UI department to cover different projects or markets.
  • In a smaller organisation, this would be the most senior role.
  • They would handle line management of a team which involves delegation. 
  • They would still be involved with project or product-level decisions and pitches, particularly regarding the budget.

Principal __

  • Principals are usually practitioners with extensive experience, also known as SME’s (subject matter experts).
  • They often have the same level of expertise as the ‘Head of’ but their role has little to no emphasis on leadership and management. 
  • They are capable practitioners.


  • Lead roles are usually the most senior role in an organisation, coming after roles that involve running a department.
  • They work under minimal direction from management.
  • They tackle large projects (in terms of their duration or their importance).
  • They work with the support of mainly junior and midweight roles.

Job titles in this area can be vague, unclear or mislabeled.
When looking at job roles at this level be sure to read the job descriptions thoroughly and don’t go based on the title alone.

At the interview stage, ask as many questions as you can to understand the company’s expectations of the role, day to day responsibilities and overall scope to make sure it aligns with your expectations.

What companies hire

A survey by LinkedIn found that UX/UI designers are in the top 8 of the most in demand careers in the digital marketing field and UX design is in the top 5 in demand skills as of 2020 

These industries are the top for hiring designers: 

  • eCommerce.
  • Information Tech.
  • Finance/Insurance.
  • Media and Content.
  • Enterprise Software.

Pretty much any company with a digital product (website, app, online ads etc..) needs a UX/UI designer at some point so it’s possible to work for companies that combine with your other interests! 

E.g. Creative director at IKEA or Lead UX researcher at Sainsburys

Just like all design levels, job descriptions may still have a minimum number of years of experience as a requirement, however, as long as you can demonstrate the skills required in your portfolio and the experience you have, the years tend to be less important!

Leadership salaries 

This is the crème de la crème, so how much are we talking? 

Remember, many of these job titles are mislabeled or overlap in responsibilities so the salaries vary quite a bit!

Creative director
£78,823 in the UK ($106,367 USD ; €93,751 EUR)
$126,000 in the US (£93,371 GBP ; €111,055 EUR)

Head of Design
£65,244 in the UK ($87,923 USD ; €77,525 EUR)
$157,000 in the US (£116,503 GBP ; €138,433 EUR)

Principal Designer
£70,992 in the UK ($95,658 USD ; €84,388 EUR)
$143,000 in the US (£106,126 GBP ; €126,152 EUR)

Lead Visual Designer
£60,603 in the UK ($81,782 USD ; €72,080EUR)
$103,000 in the US (£76,325 GBP ; €90,777 EUR)