What Does an Industrial Designer Do?

Sep 09, 2019

Industrial designers require a fair amount of formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and employment outlook to see if this is the right career for you.

Industrial designers work with other professionals in designing ideas for clients and turning those ideas into new products. Successful industrial designers don't stop with a bachelor's degree. Master's degree programs can increase an industrial designer's marketability for potential job offers.

Essential Information

Industrial designers develop concepts and designs for manufactured products. They typically specialize in one product category, such as automobiles, furniture or housewares. They must be imaginative and persistent to communicate their ideas about new product design. A bachelor's degree in an area like industrial design, engineering or architecture is essential for this career; internships and a work portfolio may help secure entry-level positions.

Required Education Bachelor's degree
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 3%
Average Salary (2018)* $71,430

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Industrial Designer Job Duties

Industrial designers are responsible for the look of many of the products bought, used and consumed every day. It is the job of an industrial designer to create, plan and style manufactured goods, including automobiles, household products, food packaging, consumer electronics and medical equipment.

An industrial designer considers the usability, ergonomics and aesthetics of common mass-produced items and works to improve the design, function, engineering and marketing of these items. Industrial designers are responsible for the familiar look of brands and products like Jeep, iPods and the Coke bottle.

Job Description

Industrial designers work with many different specialists, like materials scientists, engineers, marketers and accountants, to create new products. When beginning a project, industrial designers may start with a client meeting in which they advise the product planning team on how existing products can be improved and new ones introduced. They also work with the market research department to assess the product performance characteristics required by consumers and establish visual characteristics that will give the sales team an edge in the marketplace.

Next, the designers may create and sketch several different design ideas and present these options to the client. After the client has decided what ideas are to be pursued, the industrial designers go to work creating computer renderings with CAD programs and graphic design or photo imaging software; they also create 3-dimensional mock-ups to help clients visualize the final results. After the client decides on the final product design, the project moves to the engineering department for the manufacturing process.


A bachelor's degree in industrial design, architecture or engineering is essential for this career. In addition, an internship and work portfolio are beneficial for securing entry-level positions.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), many industrial designers go on to earn a master's degree in business administration because the industry is increasingly emphasizing strategic design and products that suit the client's overall business plan. Industrial designers with knowledge of accounting, marketing, quality assurance, strategic planning and project management may be more attractive to employers.

Career Skills

Industrial design is a combination of art and engineering; drawing skills, creativity and technical knowledge are critical. Industrial designers must have a good sense of color, balance and proportion, as well as good verbal, visual and written communication skills.

Industrial designers usually choose to work on products in a specific industry, such as the medical, automobile, or technology industry. Successful designers know how to combine art and engineering, and incorporate sustainability, usability and aesthetics. An understanding of marketing, quality assurance, and project management can be helpful for an industrial designer to attract more clients.

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