Commercial and Industrial Designers

Commercial and industrial designers use their creativity and technical knowledge to develop beautiful and useful products. Even the simplest products have a shape and a method of operation. The physical characteristics of a product may seem inconsequential, but they are no doubt the result of great effort on the part of commercial and industrial designers.

Commercial and Industrial DesignersThe work of a commercial or industrial designer begins with a survey of the marketplace. Designers must understand the desires of the average consumer so that they can create products that will sell. A designer must obtain information from a number of sources: trade publications, colleagues, focus groups, and meetings with representative consumers. A designer will then begin to develop some rough ideas, often using pencil sketches and crude models as illustrations. These early prototypes are subjected to intense scrutiny by a number of design professionals, who cooperate to make adjustments and refinements.

Once a more complete vision of the finished product has been developed, commercial and industrial designers will use sophisticated graphics programs to create a polished image. The models created by designers will be used by technicians to make the product itself, so the specifications must be exact. Once a prototype of the product has been made, the designer will often stay involved as it is tested and marketed to a trial group of consumers. In some cases, a designer will even be asked to cooperate in the development of advertising campaigns. Designers may work in cooperation with sales teams and financial managers to ensure that a project remains within budget and meets the demands of the marketplace.

Commercial and industrial designers must have a requisite amount of education and training. Almost all entry-level positions require a bachelor’s degree, and most firms prefer to hire candidates who have completed internships and assembled a solid portfolio. The typical undergraduate majors for aspiring commercial and industrial designers are industrial design, architecture, or engineering. Many students take on summer jobs, sometimes unpaid, at manufacturing and design firms. There is an increasing emphasis on business skills in this profession, so some commercial and industrial designers find it useful to obtain a degree in business administration as well.

As part of their training, commercial and industrial designers must master the various computer programs used in this field. The undergraduate years are a good time to gain experience with different programs and different types of projects. The most effective portfolio demonstrates the ability to work in a number of different fields. It is expected that strategic design will become a more important component in this field, which means that aspiring designers will need to have some familiarity with accounting and marketing. It is not necessary that a prospective designer have direct experience with the type of work performed by the company to which he or she is applying. Most of the specific training is provided on the job.

On average, commercial and industrial designers have an annual income of about $57,350. These professionals tend to make more when they manage companies, work in architecture or engineering, or provide specialized design services. Some commercial and industrial designers make more than $100,000 a year.

The demand for commercial and industrial designers is expected to grow at roughly the same pace as the economy as a whole. In other words, during times of economic expansion, job prospects for designers will be good, while during recession, there will be fewer openings. The designers of the future will have to pay particular attention to product safety and affordability. Also, there is expected to be an increased emphasis on technology and electronics. Many people want to become designers, so there is going to be keen competition for the best jobs. Some jobs will be outsourced, but the most skilled positions will be filled by native workers.