As a researcher at Aalto University looking at the job market for designers in Finland and abroad, I have two good news for designers: First, the number of jobs for designers in Finland is growing. Second, the list of skills required for these jobs is also growing, including knowledge in areas such as business, technology, etc.
#1 More jobs posted per month in Finland
The first good news is that the number of jobs available is growing. I saw an increase in the number of jobs advertised on websites such as LinkedIn, Oikotie, among others: in 2015/2016, I saw an average of 12 positions per month*. In 2018, the average doubled to 24 per month**. Now in 2019, the average increased to 26 per month***.
An important note: In 2015/2016, I was collecting both job advertisements written in English and Finnish, as I analysed in cooperation with colleagues at Aalto who read the Finnish advertisements. In 2018 and 2019, I only collected job advertisements in English. That said, the number of positions per month is probably bigger, as those written in Finnish were not counted.
#2 Designers are expanding their skill sets and job titles
The second good news is that the design jobs are asking for more skills than a few years ago. As designers are finally ‘getting a seat the table’, meaning evolving their contribution from only aesthetically and visual work to more strategic work****, designers are required to master several (new) skills. For example, it is common to see designers who also know about business, research, coding, etc.
I think this expansion of the skill set is excellent for designers, as it gives more work and collaboration opportunities within companies. These new requirements by companies push designers to be in a constant learning mindset.
But, there are of course limits to how much one single person can master. It is hard (but not impossible) to be a good designer and programmer, for example. I believe that designers need to learn these new skills to collaborate with different professionals: know a little bit about coding to be able to discuss with programmers.
In the 104 positions posted in my job board in 2019 (March to June), I found a varied number of job titles and requirements for designers. The most frequent job title was ‘UX Designer’ (24 positions), followed by Visual Designer (23 positions) and ‘UX/UI Designer’ (14 positions). Regarding the skills, ‘UX’, ‘UI’ and ‘Visual design’ were requested in over two-thirds of the jobs. The list of skills required also included ‘Research’, ‘Finnish language’, ‘Business’, ‘Coding’, ‘Agile’, ‘Service design’.
This varied skills that companies look only proves that nowadays designers are not only sitting and designing ‘beautiful’ products, but they are involved in understanding the user and providing a better experience through products and services. At the same time, companies are seeing how the role of design is changing, and I believe that the qualifications written in the job advertisements are a reflection of that.
It’s an excellent time to be a designer in Finland: the number of companies hiring is growing. Also, companies expect designers to do much more than ‘only’ design: knowledge of UX, Research, Business, User-centered design and (sometimes) Finnish language are a few topics that companies are requiring.
Thanks to Jenna Heino and Maria Assis for the comments on this text.
About the author: Paulo R. N. Dziobczenski is a Design Researcher and Visual designer, currently finalising his PhD at Aalto University, where he investigates how companies adopt design and the recruitment of design professionals. His interest in design recruitment led to building a job board for designers in Helsinki, where the goal is to help designers find suitable and better positions. More about his research and design work can be found here.
* I collected 230 job advertisements from June/2015 to December/2016 written in both Finnish and English. The analysis of the Finnish job market was published by other colleagues and me from Aalto University as an academic paper, that can be found here: http://bit.ly/2HkJzZr
** I collected 74 job advertisements from February/2018 to April/2018 to write an analysis of the Finnish job market, published as a blog post here: http://bit.ly/2ZljDG6
*** I added 104 positions from March/2019 to June/2019 to my Design jobs in Helsinki job board: http://bit.ly/design_helsinki
**** See the Danish Design Ladder for an example of how design evolves in companies.