Should a UX Researcher Make Minimum Wage?

Posted By Debbie on November 30, 2018

I just saw a open job for a remote UX Researcher at a company that can count me as a previous customer. I know their product, I know their target audience, so this was interesting to me.

The job listing was long long long and listed all the things you need to do and be, down to personality characteristics. And then finally they said that the salary would be $32,000 per year.

That’s around $15 per hour, which is minimum wage or just above it in some US cities. Many Americans can’t make ends meet on minimum wage considering housing costs, food, healthcare, childcare, commuting… the American life can be very expensive, even when people are frugal. If you live in Arizona (for example), you are taking home around $2,200 per month after withholding.

I Googled some jobs paid around $15 per hour around America. You can make slightly less working in a call center. You can make slightly more as a bank teller. Pepsi will pay you nearly $16/hr in their Kentucky warehouse or almost $22/hr in a Michigan warehouse.

These are all important jobs. I would be an awful bank teller and a worse nighttime warehouse gal. I want to see people paid minimum wage or higher, so these seem like decent jobs for people with those specialties.

But I’m comparing this to what a UX Researcher could or should make. indicates that across the USA, the average salary for a UX Researcher title is over $116K per year. I asked Glassdoor to filter by companies with 50 or fewer employees. The average is $102K with $75K being on the low end. Voice123 is offering less than half the low end.

But they’re all about social good and supporting people!

Their TOS page gives their corporate address as San Francisco, California (who knows if that’s a mailing address or really where they are located). The job listing page talks about how they are all about social good and supporting NGOs. That sounds pretty San Francisco! Yet they don’t want to pay a decent salary and hire someone from their own back yard.

This tells me that they are looking for someone who isn’t living in America, Canada, the UK, or so-called “Western” countries where someone earning this salary might still struggle to make ends meet. Is it discrimination to offer a salary so low that only someone from another country could consider it? It’s a remote job and it basically says, “Americans need not apply.” It’s so rare to see a salary displayed in a job listing that I assume it’s a message to applicants.

Side creepy note: the job listing says they expect you to stay in this job at least 2 years. Employer, expect someone to stay as long as you make the job rewarding, enjoyable, empowering, and well-paid. If people don’t like working there, they won’t stay 2 years.