Industrial Designer Training
A bachelorís degree is required for most entry-level commercial and industrial design positions. Many designers also pursue a masterís degree to increase their employment opportunities.
Education and training. A bachelorís degree in industrial design, architecture, or engineering is required for most entry-level commercial and industrial design jobs. Coursework includes principles of design, sketching, computer-aided design, industrial materials and processes, manufacturing methods, and some classes in engineering, physical science, mathematics, psychology, and anthropology. Many programs also include internships at design or manufacturing firms.
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Many aspiring commercial and industrial designers earn a masterís degree in industrial design. Some already have a bachelorís degree in the field, but an increasing number have degrees and experience in other areas, such as marketing, information technology, or engineering, and are hoping to transfer into a design occupation.
Also, because of the growing emphasis on strategic design and how products fit into a firmís overall business plan, an increasing number of designers are pursing a masterís degree in business administration to gain business skills.
The National Association of Schools of Art and Design accredits approximately 250 postsecondary colleges, universities, and private institutes with programs in art and design. About 45 of these schools award a degree in industrial design; some offer a bachelorís of art, some a bachelorís of science. Many schools require the successful completion of 1 year of basic art and design courses before entry into a bachelorís degree program. Applicants also may be required to submit sketches and other examples of their artistic ability.
Other qualifications. Creativity and technical knowledge are crucial in this occupation. People in this field must have a strong sense of the estheticóan eye for color and detail and a sense of balance and proportion. Despite the advancement of computer-aided design, sketching ability remains an important advantage. Designers must also understand the technical aspects of how products function. Most employers also expect new designers to know computer-aided design software. The deciding factor in getting a job often is a good portfolioóexamples of a personís best work.
Designers must also be imaginative and persistent and must be able to communicate their ideas visually, verbally, and in writing. Because tastes and styles can change quickly, designers need to be well read, open to new ideas and influences, and quick to react to changing trends. Problem-solving skills and the ability to work independently and under pressure also are important traits. People in this field need self-discipline to start projects on their own, to budget their time, and to meet deadlines and production schedules.
As strategic design becomes more important, employers will seek designers with project management skills and knowledge of accounting, marketing, quality assurance, purchasing, and strategic planning. Good business sense and sales ability are important, especially for those who freelance or run their own business.
Advancement. Beginning commercial and industrial designers usually receive on-the-job training and normally need 1 to 3 years of training before they can advance to higher level positions. Experienced designers in large firms may advance to chief designer, design department head, or other supervisory positions. Some designers leave the occupation to become teachers in design schools or in colleges and universities. Many faculty members continue to consult privately or operate small design studios to complement their classroom activities. Some experienced designers open their own design firms
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 Edition
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