Working in industrial design opens up a large number of job opportunities

Even in a business world where facts and figures are the bottom line, there is a place for those with a more creative bent.

Industrial designers are responsible for coming up with the look of products that are manufactured, such as cars, appliances and toys. Their jobs are located right where the creativity of design meets the necessities of business and engineering, giving them a challenging but rewarding job.

Getting into the profession can be a challenge in itself, but it’s a good fit for those who have the skills and the desire to be an artist.

Important Skills for Industrial Designers

Perhaps the most important skills for an industrial designer are artistic ability and creativity. Artistic ability is important because designers often hand sketch their original concepts, using them to make the prototypes for the product. Creativity is important as designers must come up with innovative solutions to complex challenges, mating technology and functionality with design.

Other important skills include computer skills – as almost all design work is typically done now on computer – and interpersonal skills, as designers must work with people from other departments on big projects.

Designers also would do well to have skills in understanding how products are engineered, at least for the area in which they work. Otherwise they may waste time on designs that cannot possibly work.

Common Employers for Industrial Designers

The largest percentage of industrial designers work directly for manufacturers in dozens of different industries.

A check of recent job board postings show industrial designer positions in everything from furniture companies (designing new concepts for chairs, beds and couches) to medical devices.

Other industries that hire industrial designers include specialized design services (contracting companies), wholesale trade companies and architecture and engineering companies.

Education Needed to Become an Industrial Designer

To attain an entry level job in the industrial engineering profession will require at least a bachelor’s degree. According the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), it is also very important for industrial designers to have an electronic portfolio of their best work to show potential employers.

Most attain their bachelor’s degrees in design, architecture or engineering. Design programs feature classes on computer-assisted design, hand drawing and drafting. It’s important to attend a school that has been accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design.

Salary and Job Growth for Industrial Designers

Industrial designer salaries vary quite a bit based on the specific industry within which they work. According to numbers for the BLS, the amount of pay can vary from $54,070 to as high as $129,390.

Here as the median annual salaries for industrial designers in various industries, according to numbers from the BLS compiled in May 2016:

  • Aerospace Product and Parts Manufacturing, $100,860
  • Semiconductor and other electronics manufacturing, $96,920
  • Navigational, Measuring, Electromedical, and Control Instruments Manufacturing, $95,890
  • Architectural, Engineering, and Related Services, $93,870
  • Motor Vehicle Parts Manufacturing, $80,080

The job growth among industrial engineers will depend largely on the consumer demand for new products. The BLS current projects about 1% growth between 2014 and 2024, or 2,100 new jobs.