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Industrial designer

Industrial designers develop concepts and designs for manufactured products, such as cars, home appliances, and toys. They combine art, business, and engineering to make products that people use every day.

Quick facts: Industrial designer
2021 Median Pay $77,030 per year; $37.03 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor's degree
Number of Jobs, 2021 29,300
Job Outlook, 2021-31 2%
Employment Change, 2021-31 2,700
Source O*Net

Industrial designers consider products' function, aesthetics, production costs, and usability when developing new product concepts.

How to become an industrial designer

A bachelor’s degree in industrial design is usually required for most entry-level industrial design jobs, although in some cases a degree in architecture or engineering will also suffice. It is also important for industrial designers to have a professional portfolio with examples of their best design projects. Most design programs include the courses that industrial designers need in design: sketching, computer-aided design and drafting (CADD), industrial materials, and processes, chemical engineering, and manufacturing methods. Completing coursework in environmental studies and/or sustainability will help provide an important context for sustainable design.

Many schools require successful completion of some basic art and design courses before entry into a bachelor's degree program. Applicants also may need to submit sketches and other examples of their artistic ability. Skills that are important for an industrial designer include creativity, three-dimensional visualization, critical thinking, active listening, and complex problem-solving.

Education and resources

Access courses and resources to learn about green building and sustainability concepts related to industrial design.

Online courses

Stay up to date on the latest developments in green building through access to online courses with an annual subscription to the USGBC course catalog.

Role on a LEED project

In the green building realm, industrial designers create designs for building-related products that are more environmentally favorable for human health and social equity. In the architectural design and building construction industry, these products are generally referred to as FF&E or Furniture, Fixtures & Equipment, but may also include specialty construction materials, finish materials, technology, and landscape equipment specified by architects, engineers or design consultants.

Products for green buildings are designed to consider the “circular economy” or entire life cycle of the product, from the extraction and processing of raw materials to manufacturing, packaging, transport, installation, commissioning, operations, maintenance and eventual end of life reuse, recycling or disposal. Additionally, green industrial design considers the human health and societal impacts associated with creating and using the product or material being designed.

  • Furniture
  • Kitchen equipment
  • Plumbing fixtures and faucets
  • Lighting fixtures
  • Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment
  • Control devices or systems for lighting, audio-visual, information technology, fire protection, security or other building-related electronic technology
  • Windows and skylights
  • Floor, wall, and ceiling finish materials
  • Landscape and site equipment and furnishings

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