Industrial design degree programs provide students with the theoretical and practical design skills necessary to develop, implement, and evaluate the design of a wide range of products. Some focus courses are also available in areas such as aerospace or software design. Bachelor's degree programs in the field (4 years) are the most common prerequisite for entry-level industrial design jobs. Graduates may work at design firms or teach industrial design at a variety of levels.
Master's degree programs (2 years) can also provide individuals with advanced design and business skills, making them more competitive in the job market. At this level, students are required to complete a thesis project. Both levels of degree programs typically include hands-on studio work.
Most bachelor's degree programs in industrial design require that students have a high school diploma before enrolling; master's programs typically require students to hold a bachelor's degree in a related field before applying, although students with a bachelor's degree in an unrelated field may be accepted given they've completed certain courses, including history of design and introduction to drafting.
Bachelor's Degree in Industrial Design
The Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design (B.S.) degree teaches students the essentials of designing, developing, and manufacturing commercial products. A similar program may also be offered as the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Industrial Design. Industrial designers are involved in the creation of a variety of products, such as airplane parts, household appliances, and furniture. They may use computer programs or traditional drafting techniques to create design models. The curriculum of a bachelor's degree in industrial design introduces students to many design theories and techniques. Students engage in practical design studios that may even lead to finished prototypes of their creations. They take seminar-style courses like these:
- History of design
- Perspective drawing
- Modeling techniques
- Manufacturing and materials
- Design drafting
Master's of Industrial Design
The Master of Industrial Design (MID) is a graduate degree program that introduces students to advanced theoretical and design applications. Some programs may be more research based than others. The MID curriculum usually emphasizes the development of students' design skills. A master's candidate usually engages in hands-on design activity. Students may complete advanced classroom work in some of these subjects:
- Advanced design methods
- Design semantics
- Issues in contemporary design
- Digital product modeling
Continuing Education Options
Graduates of industrial design B.S. degree programs may choose to pursue graduate studies. Possibilities include an industrial design master's degree or a doctoral degree program in a related design field.
Popular Career Options
Graduates of a baccalaureate degree program in industrial design may be qualified for certain entry-level design positions, some of which are listed below.
- Assistant product designer
- Multimedia design assistant
- Assistant product developer
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts employment growth of 2% for commercial designers and industrial designers between 2014 and 2024. This is slower than the average rate for all U.S. employment growth. The BLS also states that as of May 2015, the average annual salary of commercial and industrial designers was $69,820.
Aspiring industrial designers can seek education at the bachelor's and master's level. In these programs students will receive hands-on training and instruction in relevant aspects of design, preparing them for careers in commercial and industrial fields of the craft.