How to Become an Industrial Designer
A bachelor’s degree in industrial design, architecture, or engineering is usually required for entry-level industrial design jobs.
A bachelor’s degree is usually required for most entry-level industrial design jobs. It is also important for industrial designers to have an electronic portfolio with examples of their best design projects.
A bachelor’s degree in industrial design, architecture, or engineering is usually required for entry-level industrial design jobs. Most design programs include the courses that industrial designers need in design: sketching, computer-aided design and drafting (CADD), industrial materials and processes, and manufacturing methods.
The National Association of Schools of Art and Design accredits approximately 300 postsecondary colleges, universities, and independent institutes with programs in art and design. Many schools require successful completion of some basic art and design courses before entry into a bachelor’s degree program. Applicants also may need to submit sketches and other examples of their artistic ability.
Many programs provide students with the opportunity to build a professional portfolio of their designs by collecting examples of their designs from classroom projects, internships, or other experiences. Students can use these examples of their work to demonstrate their design skills when applying for jobs and bidding on contracts for work.
An increasing number of designers are getting a Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) to gain business skills. Business skills help designers understand how to fit their designs to meet the cost limitations a firm may have for the production of a given product.
Analytical skills. Industrial designers use logic or reasoning skills to study consumers and recognize the need for new products.
Artistic ability. Industrial designers sketch their initial design ideas, which are used later to create prototypes. As such, designers must be able to express their design through illustration.
Computer skills. Industrial designers use computer-aided design software to develop their designs and create prototypes.
Creativity. Industrial designers must be innovative in their designs and the ways in which they integrate existing technologies into their new product.
Interpersonal skills. Industrial designers must develop cooperative working relationships with clients and colleagues who specialize in related disciplines.
Mechanical skills. Industrial designers must understand how products are engineered, at least for the types of products that they design.
Problem-solving skills. Industrial designers identify complex design problems such as the need, size, and cost of a product, anticipate production issues, develop alternatives, evaluate options, and implement solutions.
Experienced designers in large firms may advance to chief designer, design department head, or other supervisory positions. Some designers become teachers in design schools or in colleges and universities. For more information, see the profile on postsecondary teachers. Many teachers continue to consult privately or operate small design studios in addition to teaching. Some experienced designers open their own design firms.