What Is Industrial Design?

Also known as product design and commercial design, the field of industrial design encompasses designs for everything from a child's toy to an astronaut's space vehicle. Read on to learn how industrial designers combine skill, trade, and creative thinking to develop the things we use every day. Schools offering Graphic Design degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Field Overview

Industrial design involves creating man-made products and improving their look, feel, and function. Industrial designers carry a product from an initial idea on paper and computer-assisted design to a physical prototype and final product. Multi-function cellular phones, 4x4 trucks, household appliances, retail displays and fixtures, running shoes, and product packaging are all results of industrial designers doing their jobs. A chair is a good example of a simple object that undergoes extensive planning from an industrial design perspective. A designer needs to consider not only the appearance and function of the chair but also these factors:

  • Practicality and durability of the materials
  • Physical characteristics of the consumers most likely to use that particular chair
  • Comfort and fatigue factors related to extended use
  • Environmental and safety concerns
  • The client's budget

Important Facts About This Occupation

Key Skills Artistic ability, creativity, mechanical skills, analytical skills
Similar Occupations Architect, fashion designer, art director
Work Environment Office setting but site and client visits are often mandatory
Profesional Certification An industrial design certificate can be obtained through several university programs, but a bachelor's degree is required to work as an industrial designer in most fields

Educational Requirements

A bachelor's degree in architecture, industrial design, or engineering is required for most jobs. Courses in art, design, sketching, computer-aided design (CAD), manufacturing materials and methods, marketing, engineering, and psychology are considered essential. Many industrial designers also pursue advanced degrees, such as a Master of Business Administration (MBA).

Job Prospects

Because industrial designers are needed in so many industries, employment prospects are available; however, the projected growth is slower than average from 2016-2026. Additionally, the need for improved designs in hospital equipment, for example, remains steady despite fluctuations in the economy. Similarly, the need for improved energy efficiency and cost effectiveness in buildings has also held.

Expected Salaries

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov,), the median annual salary for commercial and industrial designers was $66,590, as of May 2018, with most salaries ranging from $51,670 to $87,620. Demand for designers is expected to increase by about 4%, per the BLS, from 2016 to 2026.

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