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Working As a Lighting 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

  • $87,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Lighting 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 A Lighting 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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Lighting Designer Career Paths

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Do you work as a Lighting Designer?

Average Yearly Salary
$87,000
Show Salaries
$59,000
Min 10%
$87,000
Median 50%
$87,000
Median 50%
$87,000
Median 50%
$87,000
Median 50%
$87,000
Median 50%
$87,000
Median 50%
$87,000
Median 50%
$130,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Cooley
Highest Paying City
Seattle, WA
Highest Paying State
Washington
Avg Experience Level
3.3 years
How much does a Lighting Designer make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Lighting Designer in the United States is $88,034 per year or $42 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $59,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $130,000.

Real Lighting Designer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Lighting Designer George P. Johnson Company New York, NY Sep 15, 2016 $140,000
Senior Lighting Designer One Lux Studio, LLC New York, NY Nov 04, 2014 $120,000
Senior Lighting Designer One Lux Studio, LLC New York, NY Jan 28, 2014 $120,000
Architectural Lighting Designer HK Lighting Group Parksdale, CA Dec 01, 2014 $113,526
Architectural Lighting Designer HK Lighting Group, Inc. Parksdale, CA Feb 02, 2015 $107,682 -
$113,526
Exterior Automotive Lighting Designer Automotive Lighting, LLC Auburn Hills, MI Apr 30, 2016 $90,000
Exterior Automotive Lighting Designer Automotive Lighting LLC Auburn Hills, MI Oct 16, 2015 $86,091 -
$90,000
Lighting Designer George S. Sexton, III Washington, DC Jul 07, 2014 $82,000
Theater Show Lighting Designer TZZ LLC Seattle, WA Jan 23, 2015 $78,263
Senior Arch'l Lighting Designer The Dulanski Group, Inc. NY Dec 11, 2014 $75,833
Lighting Designer Domingo Gonzalez Associates, Inc. New York, NY Sep 19, 2015 $73,000
Interior Lighting Designer Niteo Washington, LLC Seattle, WA May 23, 2016 $72,000
Senior Arch'l Lighting Designer The Dulanski Group, Inc. NY Jan 02, 2015 $70,000
Lighting Designer Kaplan Gehring McCarroll Architectural Lighting, I El Segundo, CA Sep 06, 2013 $59,051 -
$65,000
Lighting Designer One Lux Studio, LLC New York, NY Nov 12, 2014 $58,552
Lighting Designer Kugler NING Lighting Design Inc. New York, NY Sep 16, 2014 $58,500
Application Lighting Designer Prudential Lighting Corporation Los Angeles, CA Oct 01, 2014 $58,240
Lighting Designer Tillotson Design Associates, Inc. New York, NY Sep 10, 2015 $58,000
Lighting Designer WSP USA Corp Seattle, WA Jun 03, 2013 $58,000
Associate Architect Lighting Designer Lighting Design Alliance Inc. Long Beach, CA Sep 15, 2016 $57,768
Lighting Designer The Lighting Design Alliance Inc. Long Beach, CA Jul 10, 2015 $49,858
Lighting Designer The Lighting Design Alliance, Inc. Long Beach, CA Sep 01, 2015 $48,669
Junior Home & Lighting Designer Aerin LLC New York, NY Jan 09, 2016 $48,422
Lighting Desiner PHT Lighting Design, Inc. New York, NY Aug 15, 2014 $48,000
Lighting Designer PHT Lighting Design, Inc. New York, NY Aug 15, 2014 $48,000
Architectural Lighting Designer L'Observatoire International Inc. New York, NY Aug 26, 2013 $48,000
Lighting Designer Office for Visual Interaction, Inc. New York, NY Sep 02, 2015 $48,000
Lighting Designer Ventresca Design, LLC Islandia, NY Sep 21, 2016 $48,000

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Top Skills for A Lighting Designer

  1. Production Meetings
  2. CAD
  3. Design Process
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Participate in weekly production meetings with the director and other designers to discuss progress of the show.
  • Managed and developed full domestic and international AutoCAD documents.
  • Skilled in exterior lighting layouts, calculations, specifications and all phases of the lighting design process.
  • Provided project specifications and technical support for interior designers, architects, and homeowners.
  • Developed relationships with new and existing customers through careful listening skills, attention to detail and providing customer service.

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Top 10 Best States for Lighting Designers

  1. Washington
  2. Idaho
  3. Oregon
  4. Arizona
  5. Montana
  6. Wyoming
  7. Texas
  8. South Carolina
  9. New Jersey
  10. Alabama
  • (195 jobs)
  • (27 jobs)
  • (88 jobs)
  • (121 jobs)
  • (14 jobs)
  • (13 jobs)
  • (430 jobs)
  • (93 jobs)
  • (221 jobs)
  • (74 jobs)

Lighting Designer Demographics

Gender

Male

57.5%

Female

31.8%

Unknown

10.7%
Ethnicity

White

62.8%

Hispanic or Latino

14.8%

Black or African American

10.8%

Asian

8.0%

Unknown

3.6%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

40.3%

French

16.7%

Chinese

9.7%

Mandarin

6.9%

Japanese

5.6%

German

4.2%

Cantonese

4.2%

Portuguese

2.8%

Korean

2.8%

Albanian

1.4%

Carrier

1.4%

Russian

1.4%

Polish

1.4%

Italian

1.4%
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Lighting Designer Education

Schools

Full Sail University

17.2%

New York University

7.9%

Savannah College of Art and Design

5.3%

Arizona State University

5.3%

Ohio University -

4.6%

University of Nevada - Las Vegas

4.6%

Colorado State University

4.6%

University of South Florida

4.0%

University of Cincinnati

4.0%

Kansas State University

4.0%

University of Washington

4.0%

Macomb Community College

4.0%

San Francisco State University

4.0%

Pennsylvania State University

4.0%

University of Southern California

4.0%

University of Florida

4.0%

Southern Methodist University

4.0%

University of Central Florida

4.0%

Appalachian State University

3.3%

George Washington University

3.3%
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Majors

Theatre

25.1%

Interior Design

9.5%

Fine Arts

7.8%

Drafting And Design

7.5%

Photography

6.4%

Business

6.3%

Graphic Design

6.1%

Communication

5.0%

Architecture

3.6%

Music

3.5%

Electrical Engineering

3.0%

Mechanical Engineering

2.6%

Management

2.3%

Entertainment Business

2.0%

Psychology

1.9%

Computer Science

1.6%

Education

1.6%

English

1.5%

Political Science

1.4%

Electrical Engineering Technology

1.3%
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Degrees

Bachelors

53.7%

Other

19.8%

Masters

14.5%

Associate

8.0%

Certificate

2.8%

Diploma

0.6%

License

0.3%

Doctorate

0.3%
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Updated May 19, 2020