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How to Become a Industrial Designer

Becoming an industrial designer is an excellent career choice in 2021. There are different learning paths available to help you master the technical skills required for the position, and certification programs can help make you more attractive to hiring managers. This article will help guide you down the career path of an industrial designer.

If you have a passion for design and want to harness this passion to make an income, there are opportunities to make this a reality. You can even become a design department head and work on all types of products. Below, you will find all of the necessary information you’ll need to learn industrial design and become an industrial designer.

What Is an Industrial Designer?

An industrial designer is a creative expert who designs and creates a wide range of products, services, and objects. Some common tasks include conceptualizing and creating products and researching different methods to complete product designs. Designers should have mechanical skills and additional training for more specific design projects.

During the design phase, industrial designers must consider any constraints on projects, examine manufacturing methods, perform design testing, and carry out safety evaluations. Sometimes they must show physical prototypes to clients for approval and manage the production costs of prototypes.

Industrial Designer Job Description

An industrial designer may create designs by hand, but all final designs are created using three-dimensional CAD software. Gaining proficiency in CAD software should be one of your priorities if you want to work as an industrial designer. You should work on creating design through illustration and turning designs into models.

Industrial designers often blend art with engineering. They must have analytical and problem-solving skills as well to come up with practical workarounds to problems encountered in the workplace. Overall, an industrial designer must come up with practical designs that can be easily implemented and often mass-produced.

Industrial Designer Salary and Job Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), industrial designers earn an annual wage of $71,640, while experienced designers can earn up to $118,440. If you continue to gain experience in this field, you can earn a high-paying salary. The BLS also reports that the job opportunities for industrial designers will grow by six percent in the next decade.

In the last year, fewer products have been manufactured and industrial designers have seen a slight decline in employment growth. However, there is still demand for designers with the skills to use CAD software and create detailed designs for modern products. Interaction designers are needed to enhance the user experience in the competitive online space.

Top Reasons to Become an Industrial Designer in 2021

The industry is poised to rebound as online businesses continue to boom. Each of the millions of products available on ecommerce websites starts with a design sketch made by a designer. The role of an industrial designer will give you diverse opportunities to grow a successful career. Below are some reasons you should consider becoming an industrial designer.

  • Creative outlet. If you love creating new things, the job of an industrial designer or product designer will keep you on your toes. There are many new products that you can make. Sometimes industrial designers also remake designs of existing products.
  • Rewarding work. The work of an industrial designer can be rewarding as they try to make products better and useful. The job requires you to make the products usable, durable, and functional.
  • Dynamic opportunities. With advances in software, prototypes can be much more dynamic. New opportunities are created for tech-savvy and creative individuals. Self-employed designers can work on their electronic portfolio and requirements for designs.

Industrial Designer Job Requirements

Many manufacturing companies have requirements for the role of industrial designer. Some industrial design firms prefer designers with commercial experience. They also want to know that you can work smoothly with members of other departments. Below are some of the job requirements for industrial designers.

  • Education. You should design courses that teach drawing, drafting, and computer-aided industrial design (CAID). Try getting a degree or attending a bootcamp to gain these skills.
  • Portfolio. An impressive portfolio with examples of past sketches and designs will showcase your creative sense and your innovative visual of design ideas. Include three-dimensional modeling, product concepts, and product prototypes if applicable.
  • CAD software tools. Many firms need you to know two-dimensional computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) or computer-aided industrial design (CAID) software. This can help your job prospects in every industry, including government departments.
  • Collaborative skills. Different departments and offices work together to create a final product. Cooperation is necessary, and to survive in the design industry, you need to have good communication and collaborative skills.

Types of Industrial Designer Careers

Industrial designing is a vast field with many types of designers working in a variety of manufacturing industries. You need to learn the basics of industrial design to find many paths to choose for your interest and skills. Some industrial designer careers to pursue are transport designers, staff designers, and interaction designers.

Interior Designer

Interior designers choose and design products to make a living or working space more functional and visually appealing. These are creative professionals who work closely with their clients to make sure they have the design and concept that satisfies their requirements. With the right skills and experience, you can become an interior designer.

Automotive Designer

Automotive designers design ergonomic motor vehicles. They create sketches, drafts, and virtual models of automobile components and systems. They know drawing techniques, enjoy automotive designing, and have a passion for cars. This is a better job for someone later in their career because the position is so technical.

Furniture Designer

Furniture designers create custom furniture items focusing on aesthetics and usability. Along with their drawing and sketching skills, they also have an eye for fashion, style, accessibility, and structural layouts. They can envision their pieces in different settings and make recommendations for material and patterns as they conceptualize their products.

Industrial Designer Meaning: What Does an Industrial Designer Do?

Industrial designers work with clients to create visually pleasing and functional product designs. They also design the manufacturing requirements. Often, designers need to keep in mind that their design should use sustainable materials and comply with safety standards. Read below to learn more about what industrial designers do every day.


An important part of the industrial designer's job is to perform research. Through market research, they find out about the requirements to make the product user-friendly and successful. It helps them identify which features of the product perform well. With some initial design ideas, they can get started with their design process.


Industrial designers sketch designs using software. They might first design a simple illustration before transferring the design to 2D and 3D models. Technical drawings are an important step to create prototypes, perform testing, and develop the final product. Designers can use their favorite design tools to create these sketches.


The next step is to create physical prototypes or a sample of the design. Different computer-aided designing, printing, and manufacturing tools may be used. This helps test the product’s usability and presents a visual model to the client. A mid-level industrial designer should have professional expertise with prototyping.


The designer will evaluate their product design to ensure it complies with all the detailed specifications regarding materials and usability. This is an important step and might involve members of other departments like mechanical engineers. They should also have cooperative working relationships with clients.

Essential Industrial Designer Skills

An industrial designer combines art, business, and engineering skills. You need to have a big imagination and a creative mindset, along with artistic ability and technical capabilities. Interpersonal skills are an important part of job performance as well. Read below to learn more about the skills an industrial designer needs.

Multidisciplinary Skills

Industrial designers must create aesthetically pleasing and functional product designs that firms will approve to manufacture. They creatively engineer design solutions for product shapes and dimensions for businesses. Although they don’t need to be experts in engineering, they still need to know the basics of how the product works.

Design Skills

Design sketching requires creativity, artistic talent, and a knack for aesthetics. For industrial purposes, analytical skills to evaluate the best design for the product to function accurately are crucial. They must think of the ergonomics of the product and the diversity of the consumers.

CAD Skills

To have a successful career, you should be able to adapt and learn new software. There are many resources for learning AutoCAD and SolidWorks, including design courses and bootcamps. Teachers in design schools will always cover these tools, especially for entry-level education.

Collaborative Skills

Industrial designers work with engineers, drafters, and product managers. You need to have soft skills, including active listening and communication skills. With added leadership skills, you can reach supervisory positions and managerial roles as you advance in your career. Problem-solving and reasoning skills will benefit you to handle any production issues.

How Long Does It Take to Become an Industrial Designer?

It takes at least two years to earn an associate degree to become an industrial designer. You need four years for a bachelor’s degree program, and earning this degree will only increase your chances of being hired as an industrial designer. As long as you put together a good portfolio, you can become an industrial designer.

Can a Coding Bootcamp Help Me Become an Industrial Designer?

Yes, bootcamps can help you become an industrial designer. Although there are no specific industrial design bootcamps, you can learn design skills at a design principles bootcamp or user experience design bootcamp. The courses are often intensive, but they are a great use of your time and money.

Can I Become An Industrial Designer From Home?

Yes, many schools offer online industrial design programs in product design and graphic design. Some require you to attend workshops or sessions on campus, but for the most part, you can move towards your career from home and enter the workforce. You can also work as a freelancer or consultant for various firms.

How to Become an Industrial Designer: A Step-by-Step Guide

If you want to become an industrial designer, a sure path to success is earning a Bachelor's Degree in Industrial Design. Hiring managers like to see solid education either from a design school or a bootcamp. You can follow the below steps to launch your career in industrial designing.

Step 1: Solidify Your Knowledge

You should earn an advanced degree or join a bootcamp to solidify your knowledge in product design. Choose a program that teaches you about production methods, engineering principles, and 3D modeling software. Get a good level of education so you can access a higher median wage later on.

Step 2: Refine Your Software Skills

Learn how to use computer-aided design software. Both bootcamps and schools help you use this software. Online programs and courses will teach you how to use CAD software. There are free classes as well as paid courses focusing on software skills. This demanding field requires hands-on experience in mechanical engineering and other skills.

Step 3: Get Work Experience

Do freelance projects or internships in design studios to get work experience. This will come in handy in entry-level industrial design jobs. You will get the opportunity to learn more, build professional relationships, and develop your portfolio of work. Many independent institutes also offer extra courses and apprenticeships at a reasonable cost.

Best Schools and Education for an Industrial Design Career

Many schools and institutions offer courses across many platforms that can benefit your industrial designing career. To become an industrial designer, you can earn your degree in Arts and Science. A wide range of certifications and programs are available to learn product designing, interaction designing, user interface, drafting, graphic designing, and many others.

Industrial Design Bootcamps

Bootcamps offer many programs for aspiring industrial designers. General Assembly offers a short but intensive two-day Product Design Bootcamp. It covers product development lifecycles and how to manage project requirements. For a deeper understanding of everything from design thinking to design sprint, check out the UX Design Bootcamp from Springboard.

Vocational School

If a typical four-year degree doesn’t suit you, consider furthering your education at a vocational school. These are focused on a specific skill. You could opt for a Certificate in User Experience, a technical course for drafting technicians, or even an Associate Degree in Architectural Commercial Design.

Community College

Many community colleges offer Associate Degrees in Industrial Design, including Gateway Community College and La Guardia Community College. Diablo Valley College, for example, offers an Associate Degree or a Certificate in Industrial Design. These programs last two years and are more affordable than bachelor’s degrees.

Industrial Design Degrees

Industrial design degree programs help build your technical and soft skills. Rhode Island School of Design offers both a bachelor’s and master’s program in industrial design. Pratt Institute offers the same. These are both highly regarded schools, so if you want to get a good industrial design job, you should try one of their programs.

The Most Important Industrial Designer Certifications

With dedication and focus, you will be on your journey to becoming a certified industrial designer and get your foot through the door. Along with courses in business, communications, and tech, certifications are the best choice you can make on your path. Consider the following professional certifications to highlight your talents.

Autodesk Certified Professional (ACP) by Autodesk

You can become a certified professional designer with the AutoCAD software. This certification is recognized by industrial design firms and industrial managers. You will be able to refine and show your designing skills. Adding a certification to your resume will help you grab a high-paying chief designer or production expert position.

New Product Development Professional Certification by PDMA

Earning this certification by the Product Development and Management Association will show your interest and commitment towards your profession. You will enhance your knowledge of new products, product research, NPD process, and lifecycle management. You could work at testing facilities and top design firms.

How to Prepare for Your Industrial Designer Job Interview

Job interviews for an industrial designer role require you to prepare yourself before successfully landing a job. Dress professionally, show confidence, and practice some common interview questions to feel more relaxed. Your knowledge and passion for industrial designing will come in handy, and it will show to employers.

Industrial Designer Job Interview Practice Questions

  • How will you work with design engineers?
  • What do you find interesting in industrial designing?
  • How are you the best candidate?
  • What was the most challenging project in your professional portfolio?
  • What are your career goals for the next five years?

Should I Become an Industrial Designer in 2021?

Yes, you should become an industrial designer if you are passionate about designing and developing products. You can design elements of specific products like cars, furniture, toys, medical equipment, smartphones, or other consumer electronics products. To follow your passion for design and get high-paying jobs, learn as much as you can and gain experience.


How Important Is Math Proficiency to Becoming an Industrial Designer?
Math skills are somewhat important. You need some math courses to complete a Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial Design. While working as an industrial designer, you will use some basic math to do calculations in designing software.
Can You Become an Industrial Designer Without a Degree?
Yes, you can. In general, you do need a bachelor’s degree to get entry-level industrial design jobs, but you can still get hired after attending a bootcamp or trade school.
Is It Hard to Become an Industrial Designer?
Yes, it takes time, patience, and hard work to become an industrial designer. You must first learn AutoCAD to be a competitive candidate in the job market. 
Is Industrial Design a Good Job?
Yes, industrial design is a good job and offers a dynamic work environment. Career growth is possible as you progress through the ranks. To get started, you have plenty of educational pathways to gain an entry-level position.
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