Industrial Designer

Woman industrial designer draws with a stylus to create a new automobile design on an interactive screen tablet pad

What you need to know


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 consider the function, aesthetics, production costs, and usability of products when developing new product concepts.

What does an industrial designer do?

Industrial designers work in offices in a variety of industries. Although industrial designers work primarily in offices, they may travel to testing facilities, design centers, clients’ exhibit sites, users’ homes or workplaces, and places where the product is manufactured.

Some of the things a industrial designer might do:

  • Consult with clients to determine requirements for designs
  • Research the various ways a particular product might be used, and who will use it
  • Sketch out ideas or create renderings, which are images on paper or on a computer that provide a visual of design ideas
  • Use computer software to develop virtual models of different designs
  • Create physical prototypes of their designs
  • Examine materials and manufacturing requirements to determine production costs
  • Work with other specialists such as mechanical engineers and manufacturers to evaluate whether their design concepts will fill needs at a reasonable cost
  • Evaluate product safety, appearance, and function to determine if a design is practical
  • Present designs and demonstrate prototypes to clients for approval

Watch this video to learn about what our industrial designer role models do in their careers:

What skills are needed?
  • 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 determine the need, size, and cost of a product; anticipate production issues; develop alternatives; evaluate options; and implement solutions.

Watch this video to learn more from our industrial designer role models:

What is the pay?

The average pay for industrial designers in the United States was $76,250 in May 2023 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

An industrial designer’s pay depends on factors such as level of experience, education and training, geographic location, and specific industry.

What is the career outlook?

About 2,200 new job openings for industrial designers are projected each year, on average, over the next 10 years in the United States.

Overall employment of industrial designers is projected to grow 2 percent from 2022 to 2032 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Demand for industrial designers is expected to continue as many products, such as smartphones, increasingly require more intuitive design and sophisticated technology.

However, as fewer products are made in the United States, employment of industrial designers is expected to decline in some manufacturing industries.

The increasing trend toward the use of sustainable resources is likely to improve prospects for applicants who know how to work with sustainable resources.

What education is required to become an industrial designer?

A bachelor’s degree in industrial design, architecture, or engineering is usually required for entry-level industrial design jobs. Most industrial design programs include courses in drawing, computer-aided design and drafting (CADD), and three-dimensional modeling, as well as courses in business, industrial materials and processes, and manufacturing methods.

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.

Discover some of the courses you will take pursuing a degree in Industrial Design, Architecture, or Industrial Engineering.

Watch this video to learn more from our industrial designer role models: