What Does an Industrial Designer Do?

Industrial designers combine science, art, and a working knowledge of human psychology to design everything from your kitchen table to your remote control. Read on to learn more about job duties, education requirements and the career outlook in this field. Schools offering Graphic Design degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Overview

Industrial designers are responsible for designing new products, from the latest SUV to the most modern deck chairs and everything in between. They balance the preferences of customers with the goals of their employers to create aesthetically pleasing, safe, and functional products. If you pursue a job in this field, you will probably specialize in one area, like furniture or toys.

After sketching preliminary drafts, you'll sit down with engineers to determine the means of production and iron out any manufacturing concerns. You may also consult with accountants to estimate the cost of production. You might also consider factors such as environmental impact and the economy of production.

Important Facts about this Career

Median PayThe median yearly pay for commercial and industrial designers in 2014 was $64,620.
Key SkillsSkills that are valued in this field include analytical abilities, artistry, knowledge of computers, creativity, the ability to work with other people on your team, problem-solving skills, and an understanding of mechanics.
Work EnvironmentMost industrial designers work in the manufacturing industry, and about one fourth of all industrial designers are self-employed. Designers typically work full time in an office. Some travel may be required.
Similar OccupationsArchitects, Graphic Designers, Art Directors, Interior Designers, Industrial Engineers

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics

Education Requirements

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), you'll need a bachelor's degree in industrial design or a related field, such as engineering or architecture. In these programs you can learn which materials to use and how to use them. You can also practice using Computer-Aided Drafting and Design (CADD) software to sketch product designs. Human design courses can teach you how to create a product that consumers want. You may also spend a great deal of time in design studios applying these concepts to your own work. Some programs also offer internship opportunities where you could cooperate with a team of professionals on a corporate design project.

Job Outlook

The BLS projected a four percent increase in employment opportunities for industrial designers through the 2012-2022 decade, which represents slower-than-average growth compared to other occupations. As of May 2012, commercial and industrial designers earned median annual salaries of $62,370, per the BLS.

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