How to Become an

Industrial Designer

The complete career guide to be an Industrial Designer: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $69,820
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 2.1%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Creativity Focused
    Career Attribute

Similar to the way that architects design buildings, industrial designers are artists and engineers who design products like cars, appliances, and electronics. They take many considerations into account when designing products, including production costs, retail costs, product features, and design aesthetics.

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What is an Industrial Designer?

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in industrial designer roles:

  • Work with clients and employers to determine the needs and goals of requested product designs
  • Form personas—hypothetical people who would benefit from or use the product—to develop designs that cater to targeted consumer groups
  • Use hand sketches, computer rendering programs, and 3-D printers to create design models
  • Weigh production costs, retail costs, potential features, aesthetic appeal, and safety concerns when creating product designs
  • Present finished designs to employers or clients for approval, and revise designs as requested

A Day in the Life

Industrial designers work to design useful, attractive, and desirable products for product manufacturing companies. They use artistic talent, engineering ingenuity, and market research to form designs for products that consumers will want to own. They may design cars, appliances, electronics, toys, furniture, tools, or sports equipment, among many others.

When forming product designs, industrial designers must weigh the benefits and disadvantages of production costs, retail costs, potential features, aesthetic appeal, and safety concerns. Produced designs must fulfill all client/employer requirements, must be designed in a way that makes sales of the product profitable, and must be appealing to—and cost-friendly for—consumers. They also conduct market research and form personas—hypothetical people who would benefit from or use the product—to develop designs that targeted consumer groups will want to purchase.

Industrial designers use a variety of tools to form their designs. They may create hand sketches of products, computer models using computer-aided design (CAD) software, and 3-D printers. They also work alongside engineers to choose design components that meet the needs and requirements of the components being designed, or to request engineers to develop new component types to meet product needs.

Once designs are complete, industrial designers present plans to stakeholders for approval. If stakeholders are satisfied with the designs, the designs are transferred to engineering and product development teams for creation. If stakeholders request changes, the industrial designer must return to the drawing table to revise designs.

Typical Work Schedule

Most industrial designers work full-time schedules, typically during normal business hours. However, they may need to occasionally work evenings or weekends to accommodate client scheduling issues.

Typical Employers

Some industrial designers are self-employed and take on design projects on a freelance basis for individual clients. Others work for employers in the manufacturing industry, or work for architectural, engineering, and/or design consulting firms. The manufacturing industry employs the largest number of industrial designers.

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How To Become an Industrial Designer

The basic requirement for a career as an industrial designer is a bachelor’s degree. Common majors for aspiring industrial designers include industrial design, architecture, and engineering, though coursework in both art and business are beneficial as well. While in college, students should work to build their design portfolios. This can be achieved either through class projects, internships, or independent projects. Most employers require a design portfolio before hiring an industrial designer.

With a bachelor’s degree, you may be able to find entry-level industrial design work with a manufacturing company. However, to move into mid- and senior-level positions—or to become self-employed as an independent industrial designer—a master’s degree may be required. A master’s in business administration (MBA) is a good degree for industrial designers because it provides students with a business-focused education that allows refinement of marketing, project management, and business skills that are important when creating profitable product designs.

With the appropriate degrees, you’ll need to start accruing professional experience in the field. Initially, any experience will be beneficial, even if the role isn’t exactly what you want to do for the rest of your career. With each experience, you’ll learn new skills and can add to your design portfolio. Large and impressive portfolios are required for the most prestigious and highest-paying roles, so earning these roles is a matter of working in the field for many years in roles of increasing responsibility.

Industrial Designer Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

Low Range




High Range


National Hourly Wage

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High Range


How do Industrial Designer salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Industrial Designer's can make an average annual salary of $69,820, or $34 per hour. On the lower end, they can make $50,300 or $24 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #201 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Average Salary Nationally

Programs and Degrees

Here are the most common degrees for becoming an Industrial Designer. a is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.

Highest Education Among Industrial Designers

  • 1.4%   Doctorate
  • 8.7%   Masters
  • 47.4%   Bachelors
  • 12.7%   Associates
  • 17.6%   College
  • 9.8%   High School
  • 2.3%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Industrial Designer job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 800 jobs for a total of 39,200 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 2.1% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Above Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #547 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Avg. Growth Nationally

What Companies Employ The Most Industrial Designers

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Self-employed workers 8,800 200 0%
Specialized design services 4,200 300 0%
Engineering services 2,400 300 0%

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