Commercial and industrial designers research the production, customer needs, and marketing of a potential product, and then use their artistic talent to create the most efficient, functional, and appealing design for that product in order to make it competitive in the marketplace. They work on developing a vast array of products, from furniture to medical equipment to jetliners.
Commercial and industrial designers must have well-developed artistic abilities and a desire to create. They need to have self-discipline, imagination, and persistence. It is also important for them to be able to work independently and to effectively communicate their ideas in written, verbal, and visual ways. Problem-solving skills are essential, as well as sharp business and sales ability for those who start their own business or do freelance work. Above all, a strong esthetic sense is the most important trait a commercial or industrial designer can possess.
In 2002, commercial and industrial designers earned a median annual salary of $52,260. Earnings ranged from the lowest 10 percent, who earned less than $28,820, and the highest 10 percent, who earned more than $82,130. The median annual salary in architecture and engineering was $61,530.
Training and Education
Most entry-level positions require a bachelor's degree, and many potential employees obtain a master's degree to increase their likelihood of being hired. Some candidates receive certificates or associate degrees from 2- and 3-year professional schools. Graduates of 2-year programs usually qualify for assistant positions or go on to enter bachelor's degree programs. For those interested in freelance work or business ownership, courses in business management, marketing, and art are recommended.
Out of the nearly 532,000 design jobs in 2002, about 52,000 people were employed as commercial or industrial designers.
Between 2002 and 2012, the number of commercial and industrial designers is expected to increase about as fast as the average. Competition for positions is also expected to increase. Continued demand for safe, quality products that are easy to use, as well as advanced technology products will ensure demand for these types of jobs.