Product designers, also known as commercial and industrial designers, are responsible for designing everyday products used by consumers and businesses. Specifically, these professionals design manufactured goods based on established principles of function, safety, quality and style. They often work with professionals from engineering, marketing, legal and corporate departments.
Product designers may work as freelancers or for design firms, manufacturing facilities or corporations. They often focus on specific categories of product design such as:
Product designers should have expertise in various design tools and technology such as computer-aided design (CAD) software. Strong design aesthetics and knowledge of certain manufacturing processes are keys to succeeding in this field. In addition, product designers are often required to conduct research, create design concepts and collaborate with different groups and individuals.
The majority of product designers combine specialized training with an advanced degree from an accredited online institution or a traditional college or university. Most entry-level product design positions require a bachelor’s degree in architecture, engineering, industrial design or a related field. A master’s degree in business administration may be helpful for professionals seeking high level roles with competitive employers.
Depending on their desired field, product designers may benefit from taking advanced courses in computer-aided design, industrial materials, mathematics and manufacturing. Some employers may also seek product designers with internship experience or certification in specific industries or technologies.
The salary range for product designers often depends on their location, area of specialty and workplace. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, commercial and industrial designers earned a median annual wage of $57,350 in May 2008. Management-level professionals working for companies or enterprises earned $63,940 for this same period, while designers offering specialized services earned $59,150.
The job outlook is considered positive for product designers, with nine percent growth expected from 2008-2018. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics also expects increased opportunities for professionals with business knowledge and computer-aided design experience.
*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics