How to Become an Industrial Designer in the US

Industrial designers create new designs and update existing ones for commercial and industrial entities. They are hired to design automobiles and automotive parts, medical devices, toys, phones and other goods that are then manufactured for mass production. The job is unique in that it requires candidates with both scientific and artistic capabilities because the designs have to be both functional and aesthetic.

What Does an Industrial Designer Do?

Some of their job roles and duties include:

  • Meet clients and establish their requirements for new or updated designs
  • Conduct market research to look at the already existing designs and determine how they can modify the same to distinguish their client’s product
  • Conduct surveys and other opinion polls to determine the features that consumer would like to see in their products
  • Come up with proposed designs and display their sketches for their client’s approval
  • Stay abreast with the latest in manufacturing and design trends so that they can come up with ideas that are cost-effective, technologically advanced, safe, ergonomic, easy to use and versatile
  • Supervise the manufacture and testing of prototypes to determine their suitability for mass production


  • A Bachelor’s degree in industrial design where you learn aspects of engineering, drawing design, colour theory, business, customer relations, all of which facilitate your work. As a pre-requisite, most universities will require you to have undertaken a basic course in arts and design to have a preliminary grasp of the module
  • You will also need work exposure which you can obtain through internships and attachment in industrial firms
  • Employers ask for your portfolio when you are applying for a job and for this reason, you should take on every opportunity to grow your skills
  • Strong computer skills are also among the necessary qualifications because modern industrial design is carried out using 3D modeling software such as computer-aided design software, Adobe Creative Suites and Solidworks
  • A Masters degree in business administration may help you understand the business aspects of your client’s operation and tailor your designs with that in mind. This is turn enhances your competitive edge
  • You need to be very open minded and highly creative as the consumer goods industry is very competitive, yet your job is to come up with designs that appeal to a broad public base
  • Industrial design is not a well-known course, so you will need to have a lot of self-drive to get opportunities to practice your skills
  • The job also calls for excellent communication, presentation, persuasion and marketing skills so that you can convince prospective clients to hire you for their industrial design needs



The salary of an industrial designer depends on experience, reputation and the industry which he works in. Those in architectural, engineering and related services tend to earn more than those in wholesale and manufacturing. Self-employed designers can make much more or less than the following amounts depending on their determination and aggressiveness.

Entry level



Mid career





20 percent discount
20 percent discount


Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Work Environment

Industrial design work is highly dynamic. Although designers spend a good amount of time in their offices and laboratories coming up with new designs, they also take time researching and regularly take field trips to gather inspiration. They also spend quite a bit of time meeting with clients and pitching new ideas to them. You will operate in a variety of environments and you will need to be adaptable to be at your best in each one.

Career Prospects

In view of the increasing appetites for modern, trendier products that have enhanced safety features are environmentally friendly and cost-effective, industrial designers have an opportunity to improve their career prospects.

In 2012, 7 industrial design patents were awarded for every 100,000 Americans, evidencing the increasing appreciation for these services. However, the profession is highly competitive and only the very best can get a variety of opportunities, repeat business and the chance to rise to the head of design in a large corporation.

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