Career Advice on How to Become a Commercial or Industrial Designer

General Career Information

You might not think much about a commercial or industrial designer, but if you are in the middle of career planning or a job search, this might be a career that makes it onto your list. While most of us don’t really know what a commercial or industrial designer does, and we may not even care, people with this career actually play a really big role in the entire design process. 
A commercial or industrial designer is the person that is responsible for the look, function and quality of just about every manufactured object you see. This, of course, means that the goofy looking, art deco plunger you may have seen at some big-box store with a funny name was designed and largely conceived, in part, by a commercial or industrial designer. Commercial and industrial designers work closely with engineers and soulless MBA types to conceive of, design and create the myriad of products that you don’t really need.

Career Facts:

The commercial and industrial designer can be a tough person to be around. Theirs is a career that bridges the gap between art and engineering. This, of course, allows them to get up on a high horse and never come down, even when they are helping design a toilet brush. All too-often they come across much like a Mike Myers’ character, think Dieter, think Sprockets.
Designers usually begin by creating concepts and drawings for new products. They then pitch these ideas and concepts to scornful and often hostile engineers who resent them for their creativity. The engineers then belittle the designers and tell them how their ideas are garbage, change five or maybe ten-percent of the overall idea, then take credit for the idea with the MBA who runs the company. 
The MBA guy then takes all the credit, claiming the initial concept and the engineering changes were all his idea. He also repeats this lie to his fraternity brothers, his mistress, psychiatrist, wife, children and the half-drunk guy sitting next to him on the airplane.   This is the process known as manufacturing.

A Bachelor’s degree is usually required for anyone wanting to be a commercial or industrial designer. Many also receive Master’s degrees in Industrial Design.


Career Opportunities and Job Outlook-Fair:

There is some room for advancement in the field as designers can move up to head designer, where they can steal a small amount of credit. They could also move up to department head, where they can steal a yet slightly larger amount of credit. Job growth in the field is expect to run about seven-percent between 2006 and 2016. This translates to about 51,000 commercial and industrial designers being employed in the United States, up from the 2006 number in 2006.
Job Outlook is Fair  

A Day in The Life:

A commercial or industrial designer shows up for work, is given an assignment, and comes up with a brilliant idea that makes his company millions- such as a great new shoe design. In return, he receives a microscopic piece of the pie and has others take credit for his work. Live the dream.

Average Salary:

The average designer earns about $54, 000 per year, with the top-ten percent of designers earning about $92,000. Obviously, top designers do earn a decent “buck,” but in ratio to what designers contribute to a given company, they can often be thought of as a bargain.

$54k - $92k


Career Training and Qualifications:

Most designers have Bachelor’s degrees and many have Master’s degrees. Many of the “tricks of the trade” are learned on the job.
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