The term industrial design sounds very complicated and high-tech, but it’s actually quite simple because it refers to the designing of products we use every day in a million different ways. Almost everything we buy or use on a daily basis is the result of industrial design. Industrial designer professionals focus on not just designing products but also ensuring they look good, function correctly and add value and convenience to our lives. Industrial designers can be found working in architecture, engineering, interior design, and manufacturing jobs. Our lives would not be the same without industrial design.
Related resource: Industrial Design Degrees: Top 30 (Undergrad)
What is Industrial Design?
Industrial design is a vast field that offers careers in many industries because industrial designers work in so many different areas. Industrial design is the process of creating and developing specifications and concepts that will improve the function, appearance, and value of our products. If you have a new home built, the contractor or carpenter builds the house, but it’s industrial designers who are responsible for everything inside the house, whether it’s furniture, flooring, appliances or knick-knacks. The industrial design process starts with simple sketches of a product, goes into the building and manufacturing of the product, testing the product and continues right until the product is available for purchase on the market.
Education Requirements for Industrial Designers
To work in the field of industrial design, individuals should have at least a bachelor’s degree in industrial design, engineering or architecture. Although some choose to earn master’s degrees, undergraduate degrees are generally sufficient for entry-level positions. Industrial design degree programs include courses in industrial materials, computer-aided design and drafting (CADD), business, manufacturing methods, drawing, and three-dimensional modeling.
Candidates interested in pursuing industrial design degrees will find it beneficial to choose schools accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. There are currently about 350 accredited schools in the U.S. Applicants may be required to submit portfolios of their designs and drawings when they apply to the school. Many of the schools include internships or similar practical experiences that help the student build a portfolio to present to potential employers.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the industrial design field should see a job growth of 4% between 2016 and 2026. Despite this figure being slower than the average for all occupations, approximately 1,800 new commercial and industrial design jobs should be created by 2026. The candidates who should see the best career opportunities are those with experience in interactive design, user interface, computer-aided industrial design and 2- and 3-dimensional CADD. Graduates of industrial design degree programs may be qualified for the following jobs.
• Advertising art director
• Industrial designer
• Product manager
• Automotive engineer
• Purchasing manager
• Graphic designer
• Production designer
• Product manager
Wage Potential for Industrial Design Professionals
Commercial and industrial designer earned annual wages that ranged from $37,400 to $105,690 with the average wage at $70,880 as of May 2016 report by the bureau. The average hourly wage was $34.08. Factors that can affect wages include degree earned, experience, employer and geographic location. Here are the five top-paying states for industrial designers as well as the five lowest-paying states, which demonstrate the difference location can make in wages.
• New Jersey – $88,170
• Massachusetts – $84,100
• South Carolina – $80,240
• Nevada – $78,590
• Michigan – $78,300
• Puerto Rico – $34,680
• South Dakota – $42,830
• North Dakota – $44,030
• Tennessee – $51,120
• New Mexico – $52,480
Industrial designers create new products and redesign current products to make our lives better. Industrial design provides career opportunities in many industries. The Industrial Designers Society of America describes industrial design best by saying it’s a fundamental process that gives us a little help in our daily lives.