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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:
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.
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.
Average Length of Employment
Top Careers Before Senior Industrial Designer
Top Careers After Senior Industrial Designer
Hispanic or Latino10.2%
Black or African American0.4%
Senior Industrial Designer
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College for Creative Studies12.8%
Art Center College of Design7.3%
Ohio State University5.5%
Savannah College of Art and Design5.5%
Rochester Institute of Technology5.5%
Carnegie Mellon University5.5%
University of Wisconsin - Stout5.5%
Brigham Young University4.6%
University of Kansas3.7%
University of Bridgeport3.7%
Arizona State University3.7%
San Jose State University3.7%
Cleveland Institute of Art3.7%
University of Cincinnati3.7%
Massachusetts College of Art and Design3.7%
University of North Carolina at Greensboro2.8%
Rhode Island School of Design2.8%
University of Washington2.8%
Senior Industrial Designer
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|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Senior Industrial Design Engineer||Palm, Inc.||Sunnyvale, CA||Mar 28, 2011||$170,571|
|Senior Industrial Designer||Microsoft Corporation||Redmond, WA||Nov 20, 2013||$163,140|
|Senior Industrial Designer||Patagonia, Inc.||CA||Sep 19, 2014||$160,014|
|Senior Industrial Designer||Gopro Inc.||San Mateo, CA||Dec 17, 2015||$145,500|
|Senior Industrial Designer||Gopro, Inc.||San Mateo, CA||Apr 07, 2016||$145,500|
|Senior Industrial Designer||Nokia USA Inc.||Sunnyvale, CA||Jan 15, 2016||$145,000|
|Senior Industrial Designer||Microsoft Corporation||Redmond, WA||Mar 06, 2012||$134,796|
|Senior Industrial Designer||Google Inc.||Mountain View, CA||Oct 27, 2016||$131,200|
|Senior Industrial Designer||Samsung Research America, Inc.||Mountain View, CA||Jun 14, 2016||$131,040|
|Senior Industrial Designer||Vivint Inc.||Lehi, UT||Jul 01, 2013||$125,000|
|Senior Industrial Design Manager||Vivint Inc.||Lehi, UT||Jun 01, 2015||$125,000|
|Senior Industrial Designer||M3 Design, Inc.||Round Rock, TX||Nov 02, 2015||$124,000|
|Senior Industrial Designer||M3 Design, Inc.||Round Rock, TX||Nov 02, 2012||$120,000|
|Senior Industrial Designer||Montaag, Inc.||Berkeley, CA||May 01, 2015||$96,002 -
|Senior Industrial Designer||Nvidia Corporation||Santa Clara, CA||Jul 07, 2014||$95,930 -
|Senior Industrial Designer||Specialized Bicycle Components, Inc.||Morgan Hill, CA||Oct 01, 2012||$95,000|
|Senior Industrial Designer||Philips Electronics North America Corporation||Monroeville, PA||Jan 16, 2012||$95,000|
|Senior Industrial Designer||Quirky Inc.||New York, NY||Dec 10, 2012||$95,000|
|Senior Industrial Designer||Sharkninja Operating LLC||Newton, MA||Jun 29, 2016||$95,000 -
|Senior Industrial Designer||Invetech, Inc.||San Diego, CA||Apr 27, 2011||$93,408|
|Senior Industrial Designer||P9||Edgewater, NJ||Nov 20, 2015||$93,400|
|Senior Industrial Designer||Larsen & Toubro Technology Services Ltd||New Holland, PA||Apr 24, 2014||$80,000|
|Senior Industrial Designer||Bressler Group Inc.||Philadelphia, PA||Oct 01, 2011||$80,000|
|Senior Industrial Designer||Fuseproject LLC||San Francisco, CA||Sep 20, 2014||$80,000|
|SR. Industrial Designer||Electrolux Home Products, Inc.||Charlotte, NC||Nov 17, 2014||$80,000|
|Senior Industrial Designer||Steelcase Inc.||Grand Rapids, MI||Apr 27, 2012||$78,000|
|Senior Industrial Designer-Rubbermaid Commercial Products||Newell Rubbermaid Development LLC||Kalamazoo, MI||Aug 31, 2015||$78,000|
|Senior Industrial Designer||Steelcase Inc.||Grand Rapids, MI||Jul 19, 2011||$75,587|
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