Commercial and Industrial Designer
Industrial designers develop the concepts for manufactured products, such as cars, home appliances, and toys. They combine art, business, and engineering to make products that people use every day. Industrial designers focus on the user experience in creating style and function for a particular gadget or appliance.
Industrial designers generally focus on a particular product category. For example, some design medical equipment, while others work on consumer electronics products, such as computers or smart phones. Other designers develop ideas for new bicycles, furniture, housewares, or snowboards. They imagine how consumers might use a product and test different designs with consumers to see how each design looks and works. Industrial designers often work with engineers, production experts, and marketing specialists to find out if their designs are feasible and to apply their colleagues’ professional expertise to their designs. For example, industrial designers may work with marketing specialists to develop plans to market new product designs to consumers.
Work spaces for industrial designers often include drafting tables for sketching designs, meeting rooms with whiteboards for brainstorming with colleagues, and computers and other office equipment for preparing designs and communicating with clients. Although industrial designers work primarily in offices, they may travel to testing facilities, design centers, client's exhibit sites, users' homes or workplaces, and places where the product is manufactured.
Most industrial designers work full time, especially if they are employed by manufacturers, large corporations, or design firms. Many industrial designers are self-employed or work for firms that hire them out to other organizations that need industrial design services. In these cases, industrial designers frequently adjust their workday to meet with clients in the evenings or on weekends. In addition, they may spend some of their time looking for new projects or competing with other designers for contracts.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of industrial designers is expected to grow by 10 percent between 2010 and 2020, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Increasing consumer demand for new products and new product styles should increase demand for industrial designers. However, growth will be slower for contract design firms because smaller manufacturers are usually cautious about committing new resources for product development.
Employment of industrial designers who design precision instruments and medical equipment is likely to grow more rapidly. Both areas require a high degree of technical ability and design sophistication. Products in these areas also require detailed specifications and precise equipment manufacturing because of the delicate uses of the finished product.
Career information courtesy of the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook.