Industrial Designers


Employment Prospects


Approximately 43,900 commercial and industrial designers are employed in the United States. Industrial designers work in all areas of industry. Some specialize in consumer products, such as household appliances, home entertainment items, personal computers, clothing, jewelry, and car stereos. Others work in designing automobiles, electronic devices, airplanes, biomedical products, medical equipment, measuring instruments, or office equipment. Most designers specialize in a specific area of manufacturing and work on only a few types of products.

Starting Out

Most employers prefer to hire someone who has a degree or diploma from a college, art school, or technical school. Persons with engineering, architectural, or other scientific backgrounds also have a good chance at entry-level jobs, especially if they have artistic and creative talent. When interviewing for a job, a designer should be prepared to present a portfolio of their work. You can also post your portfolio at, or create your own Web site that displays samples from your portfolio.

Job openings may be listed through a college career services office, employment Web sites, and in classified ads in trade magazines. Qualified beginners may also apply directly to companies that hire industrial designers. Several directories listing industrial design firms can be found in most public libraries. Also, a new industrial designer can get a free copy of Getting An Industrial Design Job at the Industrial Designers Society of America's Web site, Additionally, the society offers a job board at

Advancement Prospects

Entry-level industrial designers usually begin as assistants to other designers. They do routine work and hold little responsibility for design changes. With experience and the necessary qualifications, the designer may be promoted to a higher-ranking position with major responsibility for design. Experienced designers may be promoted to project managers or move into supervisory positions. Supervisory positions may include overseeing and coordinating the work of several designers, including freelancers and industrial designers at outside agencies. Some senior designers are given a free hand in designing products. With experience, established reputation, and financial backing, some industrial designers decide to open their own consulting firms.

Tips for Entry

Familiarize yourself with computer-aided design programs.

Take an existing, everyday product you use and think of ways it might be improved. Keep a portfolio of your design ideas.

Read trade news at Web sites such as Core77 (, or in publications such as the International Journal of Design (

Choose a successful product and research its history and manufacturing.