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
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.
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.
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.