Industrial Designers

What Industrial Designers Do

Industrial designers combine art, business, and engineering to develop the concepts for manufactured products.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1wS2I0dCdc4

Work Environment

Industrial designers work in a variety of industries. Although industrial designers work primarily in offices, they may travel to testing facilities, design centers, clients’ exhibit sites, users’ homes or workplaces, and places where the product is manufactured.

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 design projects.

Pay

The median annual wage for industrial designers was $68,890 in May 2019.

Job Outlook

Employment of industrial designers is projected to decline 4 percent from 2019 to 2029. 

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.

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 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, they may design medical equipment or work on consumer electronics products, such as computers and smart phones. Other designers develop ideas for products such as new bicycles, furniture, housewares, and snowboards.

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 both simple and enjoyable to use.

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.

Industrial designers held about 42,200 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of industrial designers were as follows:

Manufacturing 33%
Self-employed workers 22
Wholesale trade 9
Specialized design services 8
Architectural, engineering, and related services 6

Work spaces for industrial designers often include work tables for sketching designs, meeting rooms with whiteboards for brainstorming with colleagues, and computers and other office equipment for preparing designs and communicating with clients. Although industrial designers work primarily in offices, they may travel to testing facilities, design centers, clients’ exhibit sites, users’ homes or workplaces, and places where the product is manufactured.

Work Schedules

Industrial designers who are self-employed or work for firms that hire them out to other organizations may need to adjust their workdays frequently in order to meet with clients in the evenings or on weekends. In addition, they may spend some of their time looking for new projects or competing with other designers for contracts.

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of industrial designers.

Occupation Job Duties Entry-Level Education Median Annual Pay, May 2019

Architects

Architects plan and design houses, factories, office buildings, and other structures.

Bachelor’s degree $80,750

Desktop Publishers

Desktop publishers use computer software to design page layouts for items that are printed or published online.

Associate’s degree $45,390

Drafters

Drafters use software to convert the designs of engineers and architects into technical drawings.

Associate’s degree $56,830

Graphic Designers

Graphic designers create visual concepts, using computer software or by hand, to communicate ideas that inspire, inform, and captivate consumers.

Bachelor’s degree $52,110

Industrial engineers

Industrial Engineers

Industrial engineers devise efficient systems that integrate workers, machines, materials, information, and energy to make a product or provide a service.

Bachelor’s degree $88,020

Interior Designers

Interior designers make indoor spaces functional, safe, and beautiful by determining space requirements and selecting essential and decorative items.

Bachelor’s degree $56,040

Art Directors

Art directors are responsible for the visual style and images in magazines, newspapers, product packaging, and movie and television productions.

Bachelor’s degree $94,220

Fashion Designers

Fashion designers create clothing, accessories, and footwear.

Bachelor’s degree $73,790

Software Developers

Software developers create the applications or systems that run on a computer or another device.

Bachelor’s degree $107,510

For more information about industrial designers, visit

Industrial Designers Society of America

For more information about accredited college-level programs in art and design, visit

National Association of Schools of Art and Design

Related BLS articles

Career Outlook:

O*NET

Commercial and Industrial Designers


Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Industrial Designers,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/industrial-designers.htm (visited ).