A bachelor's degree is required for most entry-level commercial and
industrial design positions. Experience through internships and a good portfolio
of work are also important for jobseekers to have.
Education and training. A bachelor's
degree in industrial design, architecture, or engineering is required for most
entry-level commercial and industrial design jobs. Coursework includes
principles of design, sketching, computer-aided design, industrial materials and
processes, manufacturing methods, and some classes in engineering, physical
science, mathematics, psychology, and anthropology. Many programs also include
internships at design or manufacturing firms.
Because of the growing emphasis on strategic design and how products fit into
a firm's overall business plan, an increasing number of designers are pursuing a
master's degree in business administration to gain business skills.
The National Association of Schools of Art and Design accredits approximately
300 postsecondary colleges, universities, and private institutes with programs
in art and design. About 40 of these schools award a bachelor�s degree in
industrial design. Many schools require the successful completion of 1 year of
basic art and design courses before entry into a bachelor's degree program.
Applicants also may be required to submit sketches and other examples of their
Other qualifications. Creativity and
technical knowledge are crucial in this occupation. People in this field must
have a strong sense of the esthetic—an eye for color and detail and a sense of
balance and proportion. Employers expect new designers to know computer-aided
design software, but despite the advancement of this software, sketching ability
remains important. Designers must also understand the technical aspects of how
products function. The deciding factor in getting a job often is a good
portfolio—examples of a person's best work.
Designers must be imaginative and persistent and must be able to communicate
their ideas visually, verbally, and in writing. Because tastes and styles can
change quickly, designers need to be well read, open to new ideas and
influences, and quick to react to changing trends. Problem-solving skills and
the ability to work independently and under pressure also are important traits.
People in this field need self-discipline to start projects on their own, to
budget their time, and to meet deadlines and production schedules.
As strategic design becomes more important, employers will seek designers
with project management skills and knowledge of accounting, marketing, quality
assurance, purchasing, and strategic planning. Good business sense and sales
ability are important, especially for those who freelance or run their own
Advancement. Beginning commercial and
industrial designers usually receive on-the-job training and normally need a few
years of training before they can advance to higher level positions. Experienced
designers in large firms may advance to chief designer, design department head,
or other supervisory positions. Some designers leave the occupation to become
teachers in design schools or in colleges and universities. Many faculty members
continue to consult privately or operate small design studios to complement
their classroom activities. Some experienced designers open their own design
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor,
Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition
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