Here in London I am pretty much seeing four classes of jobs being posted by the recruiters:
Junior, entry level, up to £30K
Mid, 3 -5 years of experience, up to £45K
Senior, 5+ years, up to £70K
Head of UX, so be a manager instead of a UX practitioner, £80K
Supposing you actually like doing UX work and are not big on setting budgest and dealing with recruiters as your job, pretty soon you end up with the real question 'So what is next?' How does someone with 11 years of experience differentiate themselves in the workplace from the 5 years of experience? Currently they get put in the same class. How does one level up after Senior?
I have been asking this question to a number of UXers. One well-known speaker here in Europe told me how he decided to Level Up in the standard way of opening his own agency, acquiring clients, expanding, and then after a few years realizing he was building crap for other people and their screwed up processes, and nothing for himself he truly truly liked. He shut the agency down, and now makes mobile apps and does the lecture circuit training others how to make mobile apps and what is important in making experiences. Others I know set up specifically a very small agency and purposefully keep it small to have it sustain a good life and no more, but find themselves dependent on one big client, and are now very relieved to have diversified. So basically their stories are: ste up your own company, but make it fit you perfectly if you can.
I have seen a few 'black swan' jobs go by here in the UK for more than the senior level salary, as a very Senior UX person to work on a very specialized system or issue, but those are very few and far between. But inside larger companies, I really see no progression, unless it is into management. I guess more senior people get the more interesting jobs, but I equally see them put on bread&butter so that their skill lets the agency / company get through their moneymaker faster and reliably.
So, what do you see in UX as Levelling Up? How have you Levelled Up? What paths have you seen? Do we ever get to the $200K / £150K levels of salary without becoming managers?