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Industrial Design

Industrial designers help create new products and redesign old products to make them more efficient and functional. Perhaps a career in the field of industrial design is what you're looking for.

Is Industrial Design for Me?

Career Overview

The industrial designer is the person who conceptualizes and plans the development of different products, such as furniture, health care devices, household appliances and automobiles. As an industrial designer, you're concerned with a product's material, shape, color, texture, cost and usability. Your goal is to create products that look great, are easy to use and have sales potential.

Most professionals in this field possess business knowledge and artistic talent, as well as an understanding of engineering techniques. You may choose to specialize in the design of a single product type, such as automobiles or furniture. Alternatively, you may be interested in redesigning different types of existing products to make them more functional, better looking or more environmentally friendly. Many industrial designers work for manufacturing companies and design consulting firms.

Employment Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of industrial designers was projected to grow slower than the average for all occupations from 2012-2022 (www.bls.gov). As of May 2013, industrial and commercial designers earned a median annual wage of $62,370.

How Can I Become an Industrial Designer?

Education

Most employers will require at least a bachelor's degree in industrial design or a related field, such as engineering. Earning a master's degree in industrial design or a master's degree in business may lead to additional career opportunities. In addition, online degree programs in industrial design are available through some schools.

In a typical industrial design bachelor's program, you'll take core classes in materials processing, textiles, model-making techniques, manufacturing methods and product sketching. You'll acquire a working knowledge of computer-aided drafting and design software (CADD). General education requirements in a bachelor's program often include English composition and college algebra.

If you already hold a bachelor's degree in industrial design, you can enroll in a 2-year program leading to a Master of Industrial Design. A few colleges offer a 3-year master's program to students who don't have a bachelor's degree in the field. Most master's programs focus on the development of advanced design skills; you'll usually need to complete a final project in order to earn your degree.