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Working as an Industrial Designer

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.


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.

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.


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.


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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Average Salary$67,979
Job Growth Rate3%

Industrial Designer Jobs

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Average Salary for an Industrial Designer

Industrial Designers in America make an average salary of $67,979 per year or $33 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $109,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $42,000 per year.
Average Salary

Best Paying Cities

Average Salary
Seattle, WA
Salary Range74k - 117k$94k$93,626
San Francisco, CA
Salary Range61k - 104k$80k$80,247
Redmond, OR
Salary Range62k - 101k$80k$79,923
Chelmsford, MA
Salary Range60k - 89k$73k$73,228
Edison, NJ
Salary Range52k - 81k$66k$65,694
Carrollton, TX
Salary Range48k - 76k$61k$60,687

Recently Added Salaries

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Robert Half
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Manpower Group
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Industrial Designer Resumes

Designing and figuring out what to include on your resume can be tough, not to mention time-consuming. That's why we put together a guide that is designed to help you craft the perfect resume for becoming an Industrial Designer. If you're needing extra inspiration, take a look through our selection of templates that are specific to your job.

Learn How To Write an Industrial Designer Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless Industrial Designer resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

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Industrial Designer Demographics



72.9 %


17.9 %


9.2 %



67.7 %

Hispanic or Latino

14.0 %


11.7 %

Foreign Languages Spoken


22.0 %


9.8 %


9.8 %
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Industrial Designer Education




74.4 %


19.0 %


3.6 %

Top Colleges for Industrial Designers

1. Stanford University

Stanford, CA

In-State Tuition

2. Harvard University

Cambridge, MA

In-State Tuition

3. Duke University

Durham, NC

In-State Tuition

4. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA

In-State Tuition

5. Cornell University

Ithaca, NY

In-State Tuition

6. Northwestern University

Evanston, IL

In-State Tuition

7. Lehigh University

Bethlehem, PA

In-State Tuition

8. Carnegie Mellon University

Pittsburgh, PA

In-State Tuition

9. Washington University in St Louis

Saint Louis, MO

In-State Tuition

10. University of Texas at Austin

Austin, TX

In-State Tuition
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Entry Level Jobs For Becoming An Industrial Designer

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Top Skills For an Industrial Designer

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 10.6% of industrial designers listed product development on their resume, but soft skills such as analytical skills and mechanical skills are important as well.

Best States For an Industrial Designer

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as an industrial designer. The best states for people in this position are Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. Industrial designers make the most in Washington with an average salary of $92,343. Whereas in Oregon and Idaho, they would average $81,983 and $78,172, respectively. While industrial designers would only make an average of $75,596 in Montana, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Washington

Total Industrial Designer Jobs:
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. Oregon

Total Industrial Designer Jobs:
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Idaho

Total Industrial Designer Jobs:
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
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Top Industrial Designer Employers

1. Larsen & Toubro Infotech
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3. Google
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4. Microsoft
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5. Piping Technology & Products
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Recently Added Industrial Designer Jobs

Updated October 2, 2020