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Become An Industrial Designer

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Working As An Industrial Designer

  • Drafting, Laying Out, and Specifying Technical Devices, Parts, and Equipment
  • Thinking Creatively
  • Getting Information
  • Interacting With Computers
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Deal with People

  • Mostly Sitting

  • $54,481

    Average Salary

What Does An Industrial Designer Do

Industrial designers develop the concepts for manufactured products, such as cars, home appliances, and toys. They combine art, business, and engineering to make products that people use every day. Industrial designers consider the function, aesthetics, production costs, and the usability of products when developing new product concepts.

Duties

Industrial designers typically do the following:

  • Consult with clients to determine requirements for designs
  • Research the various ways a particular product might be used, and who will use it
  • Sketch out ideas or create renderings, which are images on paper or on a computer that provide a better visual of design ideas
  • Use computer software to develop virtual models of different designs
  • Create physical prototypes of their designs
  • Examine materials and manufacturing requirements to determine production costs
  • Work with other specialists such as mechanical engineers or manufacturers to evaluate whether their design concepts will fill needs at a reasonable cost
  • Evaluate product safety, appearance, and function to determine if a design is practical
  • Present designs and demonstrate prototypes to clients for approval

Some industrial designers focus on a particular product category. For example, some design medical equipment, or work on consumer electronics products, such as computers and smart phones. Other designers develop ideas for other products such as new bicycles, furniture, housewares, and snowboards. Self-employed designers have more flexibility in the product categories they work on. Designers who work for manufacturers help create the look and feel of a brand through their designs.

Industrial designers imagine how consumers might use a product and test different designs with consumers to see how each design looks and works. Industrial designers often work with engineers, production experts, and market research analysts to find out if their designs are feasible. They apply the input from their colleagues’ professional expertise to further develop their designs. For example, industrial designers may work with market research analysts to develop plans to market new product designs to consumers.

Computers are a major tool for industrial designers. They use two-dimensional computer-aided design (CAD) software to sketch ideas, because computers make it easy to make changes and show alternatives. Three-dimensional CAD software is increasingly being used by industrial designers as a tool to transform their two-dimensional designs into models with the help of three-dimensional printers. If they work for manufacturers, they also may use computer-aided industrial design (CAID) software to create specific machine-readable instructions that tell other machines exactly how to build the product.

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How To Become An Industrial Designer

A bachelor’s degree is usually required for entry-level industrial design jobs. It is also important for industrial designers to have an electronic portfolio with examples of their best design projects.

Education

A bachelor’s degree in industrial design, architecture, or engineering is usually required for entry-level industrial design jobs. Most industrial design programs include courses that industrial designers need in design: drawing, computer-aided design and drafting (CADD), and three-dimensional modeling. Most programs will also include courses in business, industrial materials and processes, and manufacturing methods that industrial designers need when developing their design.

The National Association of Schools of Art and Design accredits approximately 320 postsecondary colleges, universities, and independent institutes with programs in art and design. Many schools require successful completion of some basic art and design courses before entry into a bachelor’s degree program. Applicants also may need to submit sketches and other examples of their artistic ability.

Many programs provide students with the opportunity to build a professional portfolio of their designs by collecting examples of their designs from classroom projects, internships, or other experiences. Students can use these examples of their work to demonstrate their design skills when applying for jobs and bidding on contracts for work.

Some designers have a Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) degree which helps further develop a designer’s business skills. These skills help designers understand how to fit their designs to meet the cost limitations a firm may have for the production of a given product.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Industrial designers use logic or reasoning skills to study consumers and recognize the need for new products.

Artistic ability. Industrial designers sketch their initial design ideas, which are used later to create prototypes. As such, designers must be able to express their design through illustration.

Computer skills. Industrial designers use computer-aided design software to develop their designs and create prototypes.

Creativity. Industrial designers must be innovative in their designs and the ways in which they integrate existing technologies into their new product.

Interpersonal skills. Industrial designers must develop cooperative working relationships with clients and colleagues who specialize in related disciplines.

Mechanical skills. Industrial designers must understand how products are engineered, at least for the types of products that they design.

Problem-solving skills. Industrial designers identify complex design problems such as the need, size, and cost of a product, anticipate production issues, develop alternatives, evaluate options, and implement solutions.

Advancement

Experienced designers in large firms may advance to chief designer, design department head, or other supervisory positions. Some designers become teachers in design schools or in colleges and universities. For more information, see the profile on postsecondary teachers. Many teachers continue to consult privately or operate small design studios in addition to teaching. Some experienced designers open their own design firms.

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Industrial Designer Jobs

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Industrial Designer Career Paths

Industrial Designer
Freelance Designer Creative Director Marketing Director
Brand Director
11 Yearsyrs
Design Consultant Design Director Creative Director
Chief Creative Officer
9 Yearsyrs
Mechanical Designer Senior Designer Art Director
Creative Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Engineering Manager Design Manager
Design Engineering Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Freelance Designer Senior Designer
Design Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Design Director Creative Director Marketing Director
Director Of Consumer Marketing
11 Yearsyrs
Design Consultant Design Manager Creative Director
Director Of User Experience
10 Yearsyrs
Lead Designer Senior Project Manager Senior Manager Of Marketing
Director, Marketing & Product Development
10 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Product Manager Brand Manager
Global Brand Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Design Manager Project Manager Product Manager
Global Product Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Design Manager Program Manager Product Manager
Group Product Manager
8 Yearsyrs
User Experience Designer Product Designer
Product Design Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Design Engineer Application Engineer Product Manager
Product Development Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Design Engineer Program Manager Product Manager
Product Director
11 Yearsyrs
Mechanical Designer Product Development Engineer Product Developer
Senior Product Developer
8 Yearsyrs
Senior Industrial Designer Design Manager Creative Director
User Experience Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Design Director Senior Project Manager Director Of Product Development
Vice President Product Development
13 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as an Industrial Designer?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Product Designer 3.8 years
Designer/Artist 3.8 years
Furniture Designer 3.8 years
Head Designer 3.4 years
Creative Designer 3.0 years
Designer 3.0 years
Package Designer 2.9 years
Set Designer 2.4 years
3D Designer 2.1 years
Assistant Designer 1.7 years
Junior Designer 1.6 years
Top Employers Before
Internship 8.7%
Designer 8.3%
Top Employers After
Designer 7.4%

Do you work as an Industrial Designer?

Industrial Designer Demographics

Gender

Male

77.2%

Female

16.3%

Unknown

6.5%
Ethnicity

White

55.4%

Asian

15.9%

Hispanic or Latino

15.8%

Black or African American

8.9%

Unknown

4.0%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

28.6%

Mandarin

10.4%

Korean

10.4%

German

9.1%

French

9.1%

Chinese

7.8%

Japanese

5.2%

Italian

5.2%

Portuguese

3.9%

Cantonese

2.6%

Vietnamese

1.3%

Bosnian

1.3%

Greek

1.3%

Persian

1.3%

Hindi

1.3%

Russian

1.3%
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Industrial Designer Education

Schools

Savannah College of Art and Design

12.0%

Auburn University

9.8%

Rochester Institute of Technology

8.7%

College for Creative Studies

7.7%

University of Cincinnati

7.1%

Art Center College of Design

5.5%

San Jose State University

4.6%

Pratt Institute-Main

4.6%

North Carolina State University

4.4%

Wentworth Institute of Technology

4.4%

University of Wisconsin - Stout

4.1%

Ohio State University

3.8%

University of Illinois at Chicago

3.6%

Rhode Island School of Design

3.3%

Arizona State University

3.0%

Brigham Young University

3.0%

Purdue University

2.7%

University of Kansas

2.7%

Academy of Art University

2.5%

Georgia Institute of Technology -

2.5%
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Majors

Graphic Design

75.3%

Fine Arts

3.5%

Business

3.1%

Mechanical Engineering

3.1%

Drafting And Design

2.2%

Architecture

1.5%

Computer Applications

1.4%

Project Management

1.2%

Industrial Technology

0.9%

Marketing

0.9%

Woodworking

0.9%

Environmental Design

0.9%

Industrial Engineering

0.8%

Civil Engineering

0.8%

Engineering And Industrial Management

0.8%

Sustainability

0.6%

Engineering

0.6%

Animation

0.6%

Electrical Engineering

0.5%

Education

0.5%
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Degrees

Bachelors

61.7%

Masters

19.0%

Other

13.4%

Associate

3.0%

Certificate

1.5%

Diploma

0.9%

License

0.2%

Doctorate

0.2%
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Internship
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Real Industrial Designer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Industrial Designer Apple Inc. Cupertino, CA Aug 24, 2016 $210,575 -
$215,575
Industrial Designer Google, Inc. Mountain View, CA Oct 08, 2015 $182,758
Industrial Designer Google, Inc. Mountain View, CA Oct 01, 2015 $182,758
Principal Industrial Designer Magic Leap, Inc. Dania Beach, FL Apr 01, 2016 $180,000
Lead Industrial Designer Fitbit, Inc. San Francisco, CA Jul 09, 2016 $161,824
Lead Industrial Designer Girling Kelly Design Group, LLC Seattle, WA Mar 30, 2015 $150,000
Industrial Designer Facebook, Inc. Seattle, WA Apr 12, 2015 $147,250 -
$167,250
Principal Industrial Designer Nokia USA Inc. Sunnyvale, CA May 23, 2016 $146,450
Industrial Designer Google Inc. Mountain View, CA Oct 01, 2015 $145,000
Industrial Designer Google Inc. Mountain View, CA Sep 13, 2016 $145,000
Industrial Designer II Amazon Corporate LLC Seattle, WA Apr 06, 2015 $130,000
Industrial Designer Nokia USA Inc. Sunnyvale, CA Sep 12, 2015 $130,000
Commercial and Industrial Designers Casabella Holdings LLC Congers, NY Dec 10, 2016 $128,294
Industrial Designer Gopro Inc. San Mateo, CA May 04, 2016 $125,000
Industrial Designer L&T Technology Services Limited Independence, MO May 10, 2015 $63,912
Industrial Designer L&T Technology Services Limited Greencastle, PA Jun 15, 2015 $63,900
Industrial Designer Larsen & Toubro Technology Services Ltd New Holland, PA Sep 07, 2015 $63,900
Industrial Designer L&T Technology Services Limited Bentleyville, PA Feb 25, 2015 $63,900
Industrial Designer L&T Technology Services Limited Modesto, CA Oct 19, 2015 $63,900
Industrial Designer L&T Technology Services Limited Milwaukee, WI Oct 01, 2015 $63,900
Industrial Designer Larsen & Toubro Technology Services Ltd. Syracuse, NY Feb 10, 2015 $63,900
Industrial Designer Lear Corporation Southfield, MI Aug 09, 2016 $59,842
Industrial Designer Modne Inc. Brea, CA Jun 07, 2016 $59,842
Industrial Designer Larsen & Toubro Technology Services Ltd Houston, TX Jun 03, 2015 $59,760
Industrial Designer L&T Technology Services, Ltd. Houston, TX May 06, 2015 $59,760
Industrial Designer Larsen & Toubro Technology Services Ltd Saint Louis, MO Jan 27, 2015 $59,760
Industrial Designer Larsen & Toubro Technology Services Ltd. Carrollton, TX Mar 04, 2015 $59,760
Industrial Designer L&T Technology Services Limited Independence, MO Jan 09, 2015 $59,760
Industrial Designer L&T Technology Services Limited Moon, PA Feb 24, 2015 $59,700

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Top Skills for An Industrial Designer

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  1. Concept Generation
  2. New Product Development
  3. CAD
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Assisted in design and ergonomic research, concept generation, brainstorming and design refinement.
  • Reviewed competitive patents pertaining to new product development.
  • Worked to define visual brand language for a family of surgical products -Developed concepts and refinement of medical products -CAD development
  • Produced SolidWorks engineering CAD files for several commercial pool and spa battery-powered vacuum products.
  • Facilitated conference calls with corporate clients discussing design intentions, current market place, product placement in store and competition.

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Top 10 Best States for Industrial Designers

  1. Washington
  2. Michigan
  3. Massachusetts
  4. Arkansas
  5. South Carolina
  6. Idaho
  7. Virginia
  8. Oregon
  9. Rhode Island
  10. Louisiana
  • (168 jobs)
  • (135 jobs)
  • (145 jobs)
  • (19 jobs)
  • (58 jobs)
  • (15 jobs)
  • (185 jobs)
  • (88 jobs)
  • (14 jobs)
  • (19 jobs)

Top Industrial Designer Employers

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