Career Information for a Degree in Industrial Design

May 08, 2021

An industrial designer works for manufacturers to develop mass produced products. Some may specialize in certain products and stages of design. Most employers demand a bachelor's degree in an industrial design program, and prospective designers may have to display a portfolio.

Essential Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a bachelor's degree is sufficient for most entry-level industrial designer jobs. These programs cover traditional and modern design methods, like pencil sketching and computer-based modeling. Some programs require completion of an internship, as well as a professional portfolio of design projects.

Required Education Bachelor's degree
Projected Job Outlook (2019-2029)* -4%
Median Annual Salary (2020)* $71,640

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Degree Programs

Industrial design programs include topics in science, math, art and engineering. Coursework also might include topics in design fundamentals, manufacturing processes and design history. Some programs offer students the opportunity to study product design. Additional course requirements might include calculus and physics. Individuals who complete an industrial design program might start out as entry-level designers.

Industrial design students gain experience in modeling, sketching and computer-aided design software through lab and studio sessions. Students might consider programs that have earned accreditation from the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). In some cases, employers prefer individuals who hold a degree from an accredited program.

Job Duties

Industrial designers conceptualize everyday products. Using input from clients, as well as their own expertise, these professionals generate concepts and design prototypes for evaluation. Designers are often concerned with all factors of a product, including function, quality and safety. While some work in general design, other industrial designers specialize in certain types of products, such as household goods.

Experienced individuals might become senior industrial designers who supervise a product development team comprised of designers and other professionals, such as engineers. Senior designers oversee all phases of a product's design, from conception to drafting and production. In addition, these professionals might give presentations to clients and make final decisions on projects. Employers often look for senior industrial designers who have experience in a specific industry, like consumer electronics.

Salary Information and Career Outlook

In May 2020, the BLS reported that the median annual salary for industrial designers was $71,640. The BLS estimated that job opportunities for industrial designers would decrease by 4% for the 2019-2029 decade, due in part to consumer demand for quality products.

To become an industrial designer, completing a program, preferably an accredited one, is required. These bachelor's degree programs provide both classroom and hands-on experience. One may start out as a regular designer and move up to a supervisory position.

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