A Master's degree in Industrial Design teaches you how to design, create, and test various products, from mobile phones, to bicycles, furniture, automobiles, and even movie sets. Industrial designers research how consumers might use a product and test different designs to see which is the most practical and user-friendly.
During your Industrial Design degree studies, you will learn how to create design concepts, taking into account social, environmental, functional, financial, and aesthetic aspects. You will also develop digital skills, including graphic modelling, multimedia, and web design.
Top study destinations for an Industrial Design degree
Before we talk about job opportunities, don’t forget that your professional development is influenced by the country and university where you study. A country with top degrees in Industrial Design or a great job market for graduates might be the first step towards a successful career. For example, here are the countries that offer the highest number of English-taught Master’s degrees in Industrial Design:
- Industrial Design degrees in the UK
- Industrial Design degrees in Sweden
- Industrial Design degrees in the U.S.
- Industrial Design degrees in Italy
- Industrial Design degrees in Australia
Now let’s look at some of the most popular Industrial Design careers and the average salaries in the US, according to PayScale:
1. Industrial Designer – 58,200 USD/year
Work for: usually manufacturers, other options include freelancing or starting an Industrial Design business
Industrial designers use their engineering, artistic, and digital skills to create concepts and products based on their clients’ demands. Products have to be practical, safe, user-friendly, reliable, and aesthetically pleasing. As an industrial designer, you can work on any type of product, such as furniture, home appliances, automobiles, etc.
Here are a few common responsibilities for industrial designers:
- Discuss with the client and understand what they expect from the product
- Design, develop, and test the product to make sure it respects safety policies and client demands
- Choose the most appropriate materials for production based on budgets and design elements
2. Industrial Design Researcher – 71,000 USD/year
Work for: research institutes, manufacturing companies, information technology companies
As an industrial design researcher, you will research user needs, coming up with new solutions and suggestions for elements of design. Examples of products you might do research for are: apps, websites, electronic appliances, gadgets, etc.
As an industrial design researcher, some of your tasks will be:
- Identify the right audience for a product/service
- Study the target audience, test the product with them, gather their opinions and user experience
- Evaluate the results and come up with new design ideas and solutions
3. Interior Designer – 48,700 USD/year
Work for: home or office builders
An interior designer aims to create living or working spaces that are aesthetically pleasing, functional, and safe for people. To achieve this, they have to use their design knowledge and digital skills while also paying close attention to the client’s demands.
These are some of the most common tasks for this job:
- Create design plans, choose materials, textures, and colours
- Evaluate what materials are needed, how much they cost and discuss the final design with the client
- Work with other professionals, like architects or engineers, and turn your design into reality
4. Furniture Designer – 51,400 USD/year
Work for: home furnishing companies, office furnishing companies, and others
A furniture designer creates custom furniture items based on the needs of the clients. Home furniture focuses more on the aesthetic aspect of the design, not only on practicality. By contrast, office furniture is all about usability, practicality, and safety.
Typical responsibilities for a furniture designer include:
- Use CAD (Computer-Aided Design) software to create and experiment with different prototypes and design elements
- Collaborate with other professionals, like decorators and project managers
- Recommend materials and estimate project costs
5. Automotive Designer – 80,700 USD/year
Work for: car, bus, and motorcycle manufacturing companies
Automotive designers use their technical, artistic, and engineering knowledge to design ergonomic motor vehicles, that look great and have good aerodynamics. As an automotive designer, some of the most common tasks are:
- Create sketches of motor vehicles (including interior and exterior design)
- Research safety standards and create body style designs that meet them
- Create 3D models using CAD software
6. Package Designer – 51,000 USD/year
Work for: toy-making companies, consumer electronics companies, healthcare institutions
Package designers develop, create, and test different packaging solutions for companies. To do their work successfully, package designers take into account project requirements, materials, and budgets.
These are some of the most common tasks for a package designer:
- Conduct research and find new materials and tools that can improve the package manufacturing process
- Create plans and mock-ups based on the product specifications
- Develop standardised packaging designs
7. TV/Movie/Theatre Set Designer – 59,300 USD/year
Work for: theatres, video production companies, advertising agencies, television companies
Set designers use their creativity and technical skills to create sets used in movies, TV programmes, or theatres. As a set designer, you will work with directors, producers, and costume designers to make sure that your design and their ideas work well together.
Common tasks for set designers include:
- Suggest ideas and create different models of sets
- Choose materials, estimate costs, and manage budgets
- Attend rehearsals and make adjustments based on the client’s requests
Ready to start your Industrial Design journey?
In a nutshell, industrial designers are brilliant minds that combine the artistic view with engineering and computer skills to create products that are practical, user-friendly, safe, and aesthetically pleasing.
If you fancy a career in Industrial Design, then start looking for the right degrees. A Bachelor’s degree is usually the only requirement for an Industrial Design career. However, Master's degrees are becoming more common in the field and represent an advantage because Industrial Design is increasingly turning into a more competitive industry.
You’ll have to showcase your knowledge and experience to impress future employers, so remember to develop a strong, original portfolio. Take internships during your studies and take advantage of the opportunity to learn from professionals.
Choose a degree in Industrial Design and use your innovative thinking to create products that make people’s lives easier, safer, and more enjoyable. Who knows, you might be the next Marc Newson or Jony Ive!