Industrial Designers: Salary, career path, job outlook, education and more

Education Required
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 in drawing, computer-aided design and drafting (CADD), and three-dimensional modeling, as well as courses in business, industrial materials and processes, and manufacturing methods.
Job Outlook
The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026: 5% (As fast as average)
(The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.)
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. Many teachers continue to consult privately or operate small design studios in addition to teaching. Some experienced designers open their own design firms.
Median pay: How much do Industrial Designers make?
$67,790 Annual Salary
$32.59 per hour

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 usability of products when developing new product concepts.

What do Industrial Designers do?

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 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 and 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.

Other designers, sometimes called user interface designers or interaction designers, focus on the usability of a product, such as an electronic device, and ensure that the product is as simple and enjoyable to use as possible.

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. Industrial designers use two-dimensional computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) 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.

Careers for Industrial Designers

  • Automobile designers
  • Bank note designers
  • Bicycle designers
  • Car body designers
  • Ceramic designers
  • Ceramic mold designers
  • Furniture designers
  • Package designers
  • Rug designers
  • Snowboard designers
  • Textile designers
  • Tile designers
  • Toy designers

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