An industrial designer's income depends heavily on the industry they choose to focus on and is also dependent on where they choose to work. A bachelor's degree is enough to get started in the field, but higher level degrees may lead to better paying positions and more work opportunities.
Industrial designers work at the intersection of design and science by designing products that people use commonly in their lives, such as kitchen gadgets, lamps, cars and electronics. Salaries for industrial designers vary based on roles like management, engineering or specialized design services. A bachelor's degree is required for entry-level positions.
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree|
|Optional Education||Master's degree|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||2%|
|Average Salary (2015)*||$69,820 for all commercial and industrial designers|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
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Careers for industrial designers include private consultants, design teachers, department heads, chief designers and product designers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated the average income for industrial designers was $69,820 in 2015 (www.bls.gov).
As with many fields, industrial designers' salaries vary based on the job and the experience of the designer. The BLS noted that the mean salary for designers in architectural or engineering-related design was $73,710. Those who offer specialized design services were paid a median of $70,810 in 2015.
Regional and Industrial Pay Information
Michigan had the highest concentration of industrial designers, centered in the Warren area, according to the BLS's 2015 report. Software publishing was the second-highest paying industry for industrial designers, reporting an average salary of $93,420. However, the highest-paying region for industrial designers was San Diego, CA, where industrial designers reported average salaries of $93,850. Support activities for mining was the highest-paying industry for industrial designers, according to the BLS.
The BLS estimated careers for industrial designers would grow just two percent from 2014 to 2024 (www.bls.gov), fueled by increased demand for new products, especially high tech and environmentally conscious products. Industrial design salaries tend to increase with experience. Annual salaries for entry-level industrial designers ranged from $37,154-$69,724 in January 2016, while designers with 20 or more years of experience earned salaries of $50,222-$139,171, according to PayScale.com.
Industrial designers typically have a bachelor's degree in industrial design, architecture or engineering, and some have graduate degrees. Graduates with a bachelor's degree generally can start in an entry-level position. In many companies, industrial designers can work their way up to senior-level positions through on-the-job training and experience. PayScale.com noted little difference in reported salaries for designers with a bachelor's degree and those with a master's degree.
Industrial designers work in the creation of new products for a variety of different fields, including the automobile and technology industries. Experience makes a difference in this field when it comes to salaries, as well as a variety of other factors, including industry and location.