Industrial Design Technology

You may not be familiar with the term “industrial design,” but it affects almost everything you purchase. Industrial design is that area where art and science meet to create both functional and pleasing products that will lure consumers into purchases. It is a form of marketing, graphic design, and technological creation that affects almost every product on the shelves in stores today.

Did you ever wonder how manufacturers decide what size they will make a product or its packaging? How about the question of why they use certain colors on the packaging or body of certain products? These questions fall into the area of industrial design technology.

What Do Industrial Designers Do?

Industrial designers are artists who also have technical knowledge about products and use drawing and design principles to create models for those products and their packaging. Industrial designers might use computer-aided drawing programs, engineering principles and software, or good old-fashioned pen and ink, but they all aid manufacturers in delivering a pleasing and useful product to consumers.

How Do I Become an Industrial Designer?

Colleges offer associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees in industrial design through their art departments or engineering departments. A knowledge of business, engineering, and design principles is essential for a successful industrial designer, so be sure your courses offer you training in each of these areas. Proficiency with CAD (computer-aided design) is always useful as is a working knowledge of other design software.

These degrees are normally offered through schools devoted to art and design or technology schools, but standard colleges and universities may also offer courses in this area. Courses offered at technology institutes usually lead to a Bachelor of Science degree, while those from art schools usually lead to a Bachelor of Arts degree.

What Types of Courses Will I Take in an Industrial Design Program?

Standard coursework could include the following:

  • Processes and materials. Classes devoted to mass production and its impact on design are important because they teach students how the choice of materials affects the function and form of the finished product as well as the safety of the product.
  • Design and drawing. All design programs will include classes in the values and techniques used in successful design. Problem solving coursework should also be included.
  • Modeling. Successful designers must know how to create models and to use various materials to fabricate finished products. Both virtual and real modeling should be included in your coursework.
  • Ergonomics. Ergonomics is the study of how human interaction with products works, and includes lessons on safety and health as well as functionality.

What Types of Jobs Are Available to Industrial Designers?

Industrial designers may work in designing any type of product, so you may want to focus on products that spark your interest, such as cars, electronics, furniture, or household products.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 29 percent of all industrial designers are employed by manufacturers. Other significant fields of industry include eight percent in architecture or engineering firms, seven percent in specialized design companies, six percent in wholesale trade, and three percent in retail trade.

How Much Do Industrial Designers Earn?

For 2010, the median annual salary of industrial designers was listed as $58,230 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those working in architecture and engineering earned the highest salaries with a median of $68,790, while those in retail trade earned the least with a median of $45,090.

Job opportunities for industrial designers are expected to grow by 10 percent in the next ten years according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an average job growth rate when compared to all employment fields.

Industrial design can be a rewarding career for an artist who also likes to deal with functionality and usefulness of his or her creations, and can provide a lucrative career path for a talented designer.

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