Careers in Industrial Design
By Institute For Career Research, Institute for Career Research
LOOK AROUND AND WHAT DO YOU SEE? A smart phone, a chair, a lamp, a kitchen appliance, and maybe a vacuum cleaner. What do these items have in common? They are all examples of industrial design that started as ideas drawn on a sketchpad. They look and function as they do because an industrial designer created them that way. You may not recognize the names Jonathan Ive, Earl Dean, or Egmont Arens. You would instantly recognize an iPod, Coke bottle, or KitchenAid mixer, which they designed - items that have been elevated to iconic status in American culture. Industrial designers develop and design manufactured products, such as sporting goods, appliances, toys, cars, and consumer electronics. Nearly everything we see and touch in everyday life has been conceived by an industrial designer. That is an uncountable number of products! So many, in fact, that most industrial designers specialize in one particular product category, such as office chairs, running shoes, or kitchen faucets. The goal for every industrial designer is to seamlessly blend form and function to make a product desirable in every way - looks, usability, and cost and ease of manufacturing. It is a crucial balance that sets industrial design apart from other types of design. The products industrial designers create must be attractive to customers, but it is equally important that they be usable, comfortable, high quality, affordable, and safe. This requires a combination of artistic skills and technical knowledge of materials, ergonomics, costs, and manufacturing processes. Most employers prefer applicants who have a bachelor's degree in industrial design. However, an engineering degree is also acceptable so long as basic art and design courses have been included in the curriculum. Some graduates choose to continue their education and obtain higher degrees that will make them more attractive to employers. Earning a master's degree in business administration (MBA), for example, is the best way to learn about marketing, quality control, accounting, project management, and strategic planning. It also helps a designer qualify for management positions. Job opportunities can be found in every industry. Since new products and innovations are introduced every day, and in almost every category of consumer goods, from baby bottles to refrigerators, good industrial designers are always in demand. The niche in which they find success often depends on related personal interests and related job skills, but choosing a hot specialty can make all the difference when setting out on this career path. Currently, industrial designers working in consumer electronics, transportation, and especially medical equipment, are experiencing the highest demand. Industrial design is a great choice for the creative person who can figure out how things work. Do you use both sides of your brain equally? If so, this profession could be a great fit. The work is challenging, but it's also stimulating and fun, and the pay is good. If you think it would exciting to see your ideas become real products used by millions of people, read on to learn more about careers in industrial design.