What Are My Career Options in Design Management?

Design management could apply to many employment settings, allowing you the chance to manage accounts, clients and employees while working to bring concepts and ideas to the visual forefront. For example, you could work as an art director, graphic design manager or industrial design manager. Read on to learn more about these career options and their requirements. Schools offering Art degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Overview

With a background and/or education in design management, you could follow several career paths, including the two discussed below. In the business world, your experience in design management shows potential employers that you are creative and innovative. You can lead groups and employees on projects that require learning, building, and development in many business settings. Using creative theories and practices, you can bring marketing and communication tools for product development and research. Some possible job titles include art director, graphic design manager, and industrial designer.

Important Facts About Careers in Design Management

Art Director Graphic Design Managers Industrial Design Managers
Key Skills Creativity, communication and time-management skills Communication, computer, and creative skills Analytical, problem-solving, and creative skills
Work Environment Advertising agencies, publishing companies, and specialized design services Design services, newspapers, and wholesale trade Manufacturing, specialized design services, and wholesale trade
Similar Occupations Fashion designers, photographers, and writers/authors Desktop publishers, drafters and technical writers Architects, art directors, and fashion designers
On-the-Job Training NoneNoneNone

Source: U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics

Art Director

One career path you can explore with a design management background is to become an art director. You could find employment in any creative capacity that uses illustrations, artwork, designs or ads, and you'd work with a team of creative individuals and clients. Managing accounts, you would edit and write copy, ensuring that the final project meets concepts and visions.


The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recommends having a bachelor's degree in arts or fine arts to enter this field, but if you want to be a manager, a master's degree is preferred (www.bls.gov). Before advancing to the position of art director, you usually need to work in another art role for at least five years, according to the BLS. For example, you might start as a fine artist or graphic designer.

Job Growth and Salary

According to the BLS, employment in this field could increase by 5% between 2016 and 2026, which is as fast as the average. As of May 2018, the annual median wage for this occupation was $92,780. Most art directors earned between $52,160 and $172,570 per year at that time.

Graphic Design Managers

Another career option to explore is graphic design management. As a graphic design manager, you would work for clients and companies, supervising those who create visual illustrations, graphics and other artwork pertaining to your client's or team's vision. Working with computers and graphics software, you would prepare accounts of images and artwork, determining layouts and final decisions.


The BLS notes that a bachelor's degree in graphic design would suffice for this field, but in researching design management master's programs, for management, you could consider pursuing a master's degree. The BLS notes that after you gain between one and three years of experience as a graphic designer, you might advance to a position such as an art director or chief designer.

Job Outlook and Salary

According to the BLS, the field of graphic design is expected to have a 4% job growth from 2016-2026. PayScale.com reported that in June 2019 that graphic design managers earned a median income of $58,077, per year.

Industrial Design Managers

As an industrial design manager, you would supervise the design of new products, such as toys, consumer electronics, furniture, medical equipment, and vehicles. This career requires an engineering background along with the artistic ability and business expertise. The product development process involves planning the design, creating a prototype and getting both the design and prototype approved.


While industrial designers typically need just a bachelor's degree, you might earn a master's degree in business if you're interested in a leadership role, such as the chief designer. You also need to gain work experience in industrial design before you can advance to a management role.

Job Outlook and Salary

Industrial designers, in general, should see an employment growth of 4% over the 2016-2026 decade, according to the BLS. It was also reported that in May 2018, these professionals earned an annual median wage of $66,590, per year.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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