How to become an Industrial Designer

Industrial Designer

Industrial designers create and produce designs for commercial, medical and industrial products. They also make models and prototypes of these designs for mass production. The products that industrial designers create cover a wide range of manufactured goods, from toys and toasters to furniture and heavy machinery. Some work is carried out on the development of new products. Other work is related to updating and improving the design of existing products.

Personal requirements for an Industrial Designer

  • Aptitude for problem-solving
  • Patient
  • Creative and practical
  • Aptitude for technical activities
  • Good communication skills

Education & Training for an Industrial Designer

To become an industrial designer you usually have to complete a degree in design, engineering or industrial design at university. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English, mathematics and physics are normally required. Applicants may also be required to submit a portfolio of work, sit a test and/or attend an interview. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information.


Additional information

After gaining some industry experience, graduates may qualify for full membership of the Design Institute of Australia. Student, graduate or associate membership may also be available prior to meeting the requirements for full membership. Graduates may also be eligible for membership of Engineers Australia. Visit their websites for more details.

Duties & Tasks of an Industrial Designer

Industrial designers:

  • Discuss manufacturers' and clients' requirements
  • Undertake research and development
  • Consider factors influencing product design, such as cost, selection of materials, production methods, new technology, safety, fashion trends, ergonomics, the environment, marketing and business strategy
  • Prepare presentation sketches showing style, size, shape, configuration of internal components and general appearance of products, either by hand or using a computer
  • Supervise construction of models or samples of products and test them for function, quality and consumer appeal
  • Estimate production costs
  • Make engineering drawings and detailed diagrams of products and report these to manufacturers
  • Modify designs where necessary to meet manufacturing or cost requirements.

Tasks

  • Formulates design concepts for industrial, commercial and consumer products..
  • Undertakes product research and analyses functional, commercial, cultural and aesthetic requirements..
  • Selects, specifies and recommends functional and aesthetic materials, production methods and finishes for manufacture..
  • Prepares sketches, diagrams, illustrations, plans, samples and models to communicate design concepts..
  • Prepares and commissions prototypes and samples..
  • Negotiates design solutions with clients, management, sales and manufacturing staff..
  • Details and documents the selected design for production..
  • Supervises the preparation of patterns, programmes and tooling, and the manufacture process..
  • Determines the objectives and constraints of the design brief by consulting with clients and stakeholders..

Working conditions for an Industrial Designer

Industrial designers work closely with other professionals in the field, such as engineers, manufacturers, market researchers, marketing consultants, drafters and product testing staff. They work in studios when creating and refining designs, using their hands and/or computer-aided design. They may also spend time in the field observing and researching product usage, and in manufacturing plants observing methods of production and collecting information about new materials and production processes. Designers may work long hours and experience periods of intense pressure when deadlines must be met.


Employment Opportunities for an Industrial Designer

Most industrial designers work for manufacturing firms. They also work for private consultancies and government departments. Most designers should expect to spend several years after graduation engaged in industry gaining experience as staff designers before attempting to enter the highly demanding field of design consulting. Most manufacturers prefer industrial designers to have had some previous commercial experience. There is a broad range of opportunities in product design, including one-off commissions, small-scale production and industrial production. There are also opportunities to establish designer/maker practices specialising in such disciplines as objects of art and furniture.


Specializations

Consumer Appliance Designer

A consumer appliance designer works in a design team that develops products and appliances to assist or entertain in the home or office (whitegoods, electronic goods and computer equipment, for example).

Furniture Designer

A furniture designer creates designs for the manufacture of domestic, commercial and industrial furniture.

Transport Designer

A transport designer works in large teams to add shape, style and comfort to cars, trucks, trains and trams.

Sustainable Design Consultant

A sustainable design consultant advises on environmentally sustainable methods and materials for creating and producing designs for products.

Industrial Designer

Industrial designers create and produce designs for commercial, medical and industrial products. They also make models and prototypes of these designs for mass production. The products that industrial designers create cover a wide range of manufactured goods, from toys and toasters to furniture and heavy machinery. Some work is carried out on the development of new products. Other work is related to updating and improving the design of existing products.

  • Average age
    Average age
    36 years
  • Future Growth
    Future Growth
    Stable
  • Gender Share
    Gender Share
    35% female
  • Average full-time
    Average full-time
    44 hours
  • Weekly Pay
    Weekly Pay
    Unavailable
  • Skill level rating
    Skill level rating
    Very high skill
  • Unemployment
    Unemployment
    Lower unemployment
  • Full-Time Share
    Full-Time Share
    80% Full-Time
  • Employment Size
    Employment Size
    3,400 workers
  • Employment Size
    Employment by state
    ACT: 0.7%
    NSW: 33.8%
    NT: 0.1%
    QLD: 12.1%
    SA: 4.5%
    TAS: 0.9%
    VIC: 41.8%
    WA: 5.9%
  • Employment Size
    Age brackets
    15-19: 0.2%
    20-24: 7.9%
    25-34: 36.9%
    35-44: 27.9%
    45-54: 16.2%
    55-59: 5.4%
    60-64: 2.6%
    65 and Over: 2.9%
  • Employment Size
    Education level
    Advanced Diploma/Diploma: 14.8%
    Bachelor degree: 54.5%
    Certificate III/IV: 8.3%
    Post Graduate/Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate: 9.6%
    Year 10 and below: 1.6%
    Year 11: 0.9%
    Year 12: 10.3%
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