Industrial Design Degree Career Options

Industrial design  degrees include aspects of art and all aspects of design and technical drafting skills. These degrees can provide an unparalleled range of career opportunities in a profession which can be truly creative, and involve major innovations in design.  Industrial design in its various forms creates every consumer and commercial product on Earth.

An industrial design degree is an all-purpose qualification across every form of commercial product design. Career options are based on skill and technical levels, rather than the sort of types of employment which define other careers.

The design types, technical levels and degree of expertise define career progression.

Career types and sectors

The large range of career options in industrial design is an indicator of the scope of the industrial design degree's applications

These are generic types of industrial design:

  • Product design and conception
  • Product and prototype development
  • Design consultancies
  • Experimental design
  • CAD design
  • Architecture (design elements)
  • Component design
  • Consumer goods design
  • Merchandising
  • Product safety design
  • Children's products
  • Packaging
  • Furniture
  • Professional and industrial tools and equipment
  • Hardware

These areas of design offer a lot of possibilities for career development. Most industrial designers begin their careers working for commercial design organizations or manufacturers. The different types of design work can also create good options for specialization, depending on the designer's career goals.

Career dynamics

Industrial design is a career which can be highly fluid, often involving working across many different sectors and types of product design. This is a true "portfolio career".  Types of employment and types of experience relate directly to career opportunities.

Industrial designers have exceptional job mobility. A portfolio showing a wide range of design skills adds considerable depth to their career opportunities. This broad range is also best career practice for industrial designers in the early stages of their careers. Operating in different fields allows them to explore their fields and find their best career paths. It also gives industrial designers multiple employment options, a particularly useful tool for career progression.

Specialization in industrial design is usually a later career development. It occurs when the designer has found a professional niche or established a definite career goal in that area. Career development for specialist designers is based on advanced technical skills and strong professional roles in the designer's industry.

The Business Element in Industrial Design

Experienced industrial designers often work as independent designers running their own businesses or consultancies. The independent business adds a lot of potentials to an industrial design career, but it also includes some very important career issues.

Industrial design is big business. All design colleges teach business and intellectual property law as part of their curriculum, which reflects a major career reality of industrial design.  Many industrial designers are also inventors, creating new products and ideas. They can have full ownership of intellectual property which can be very valuable.

Whatever the career track, this is an often complex profession. Industrial design is an extremely competitive commercial business, often involving contracts worth millions of dollars for top professionals. To exercise creativity and skills effectively requires excellent business skills and a strong knowledge base regarding design business issues.