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Industrial Designers

Industrial designers take ideas and turn them into design concepts that are functional, attractive and conform to cost and other requirements. Those working in industrial design strive to improve the safety, appearance and usefulness of a variety of industrial products.

Some sample job titles are product designer, product engineer, design engineer, electrical designer, creative director, product development engineer and package designer.

Industrial designers work on a wide array of items. They design products such as industrial machinery, appliances, toys and garden tools. Freelance industrial designers may be hired to perform specific tasks or designs.

Industrial designers must thoroughly understand the requirements of the client. Designers collaborate with company strategy staff members to make sure their designs fit into a company's strategic vision and business plan. Designers also consult with marketing personnel to create plans to effectively market new product designs to consumers. Some designers strive to create innovative products.


  • Prepare detailed drawings that specify materials, color and exact dimensions
  • Work with customers in order to fulfill design requirements
  • Collaborate with clients to make sure the design meets specific requirements and budgets
  • Conceptualizing models and ideas into designs
  • Make modifications to proposed designs
  • Have a role in product testing
  • Perform research on the product users and how the items will be used
  • Attend trade shows
  • Read design and consumer publications

Job Characteristics

Industrial designers that work for manufacturing companies usually work a 40 hour week in comfortable settings. Some designers may travel to testing facilities and manufacturing facilities.

Creativity and technical skills are vital for the profession. Designers need to comprehend the technical elements of how a product functions. They should be effective at communicating their ideas verbally, visually and in writing. Industrial designers need to quickly react to changing trends. They need good problem solving skills and they need to be able to work independently.

Employment Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 7 percent growth rate between 2006 and 2016 for commercial and industrial designers which is about as fast as average for all occupations. Demand for designers will occur due to an increase in business and consumer demand for new and upgraded products.

Increasingly, manufacturers have been outsourcing design work to design services companies in order to cut costs and find the best talent. Some companies are using design companies located overseas, particularly for high-technology products.

Some of the best job opportunities for designers will be from specialized design companies which are used by manufacturers. Those with a solid background in engineering and computer-aided design and have business expertise will have the best prospects. Often a major factor in getting a job is a good portfolio.

The median annual earnings for commercial and industrial designers in 2006 was $54,560. The highest paid 10 percent earned more than $92,970.

Those beginning in the field typically are provided with on-the-job training and usually need one to two years of training before they are able to move up to higher positions. Experienced product designers working for large companies may move up to chief designer, design department head or other supervisor jobs. Some experienced product designers open their own design company.

Education, Certification, and Licensing

A bachelor's degree in industrial design, engineering or architecture is required for most entry-level industrial design jobs. Coursework includes computer-aided design, principles of design, sketching, manufacturing methods, and industrial materials and processes. Courses in mathematics, engineering, physical science, anthropology and psychology are often taken for the profession. New designers are expected by most employers to know how to use computer-aided design software.

A lot of industrial design programs provide internships at design and manufacturing firms. Many industrial designers have acquired a master's degree in industrial design. Due to the emphasis companies are placing on strategic design and how products are fitting into a company's overall business plan, some industrial designers have earned a master's degree in business administration in order to gain business skills.


Major Employers

The top job providers are engineering firms, specialized design services firms and manufacturing companies.

Schools for Industrial Designers are listed in the Browse Schools Section.

Industrial Designers Skills

Below are the skills needed to be industrial designers according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

Skill NameImportanceCompetence
Active Listening44
Reading Comprehension3.884.12
Complex Problem Solving3.753.88
Critical Thinking3.754

Industrial Designers Abilities

Below are the abilities needed to be industrial designers according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

Ability NameImportanceCompetence
Fluency of Ideas3.884
Near Vision3.884.12
Deductive Reasoning3.754.62
Oral Comprehension3.754

Industrial Designers Knowledge

Below are the knowledge areas needed to be industrial designers according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

Knowledge AreaImportanceCompetence
Engineering and Technology4.75.67
Production and Processing4.044.6
Computers and Electronics3.94.85

Industrial Designers Work activities

Below are the work activities involved in being industrial designers according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest).

Work ActivityImportanceCompetence
Drafting, Laying Out, and Specifying Technical Devices, Parts, and Equipment4.575.17
Making Decisions and Solving Problems4.394.11
Interacting With Computers4.383.7
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates4.374.83
Getting Information4.194.27

Industrial Designers Work styles

Below are the work styles involved in being industrial designers according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest).

Work StyleImportance
Attention to Detail4.88
Analytical Thinking4.16

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for
Industrial Designers

Listed below are the 10 largest metro areas based on the total number of people employed in Industrial Designers jobs , as of 2019

Metro AreaTotal EmploymentAnnual Mean Salary
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn2,930 $82,300
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim1,910 $80,870
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell860 $57,340
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward790 $87,530
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land740 $79,900
Grand Rapids-Wyoming720 $64,910
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington470 $75,850
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale380 $85,620
Salt Lake City330 $53,940
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach320 $58,130

Compare Total Employment & Salaries for Industrial Designers

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Total employment and salary for professions similar to industrial designers

Source : 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2018-28 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics,; O*NET® 24.3 Database, O*NET OnLine, National Center for O*NET Development, Employment & Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor,

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We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Industrial Designers.

Numbers in parentheses are counts of relevant campus-based schools in the state; online schools may also be available.