This job is sometimes referred to by alternative titles
Industrial designers design and develop products for use in homes, businesses and industry.
Graduate industrial designers typically earn between
$40K-$45K per year
Industrial designers with at least five years' experience usually earn between
$60K-$80K per year
Pay for industrial designers varies depending on experience.
- Graduate industrial designers typically earn between $40,000 and $45,000 a year. Some employers also give employees a cut of company earnings through profit-sharing schemes.
- With three to five years' experience, industrial designers can expect to earn up to $60,000.
- At senior level, with five or more years' experience and management responsibilities, industrial designers may earn between $60,000 and $80,000.
Self-employed industrial designers may earn more than this.
What you will do
Industrial designers may do some or all of the following:
- analyse clients' requirements
- prepare drawings and models
- discuss design ideas with clients
- work out material and process requirements
- provide clients with budgets for production of designs
- analyse product patent documents
- test the durability, efficiency, or comfort of products (ergonomics).
Skills and knowledge
Industrial designers need to have:
- knowledge of design and production standards
- knowledge of manufacturing and construction materials and processes
- knowledge of ergonomic design (how to design for users' comfort and efficiency)
- the ability to interpret clients' ideas.
- usually work regular business hours, but may have to work evenings and weekends to meet deadlines
- work in offices, workshops or studios
- may have to travel locally, nationally or internationally to work with clients.
What's the job really like?
Graham Brewster - Industrial Designer
Discovering that design can be more than drawing pictures
"When I was at college, I was good at art, design and technical drawing, but I wasn't sure what kind of design I'd like to do. I looked at the design options at university, and realised with industrial design I could go beyond drawing graphics and logos.
How does the design process progress?
"Normally a company comes to us with the idea for a product – it could be anything from a bus ticketing machine to an igloo for a vodka promotional event. We need to understand what the product has to do and be, how much it costs, and what type of market it's for. Depending on the product, it could take anywhere from three to 18 months – it just depends on how complicated it is."
What do you like most about the job?
"I have always loved the conceptual phase of doing a sketch on a piece of paper that captures some vision, and then months later seeing that physically translated into a 3-D object or product someone could purchase. To me, the poetry in that is just fascinating. When I started the design programme, I just became more passionate about it."
To become an industrial designer you need a Bachelor's degree in industrial or product design. Some employers may also accept people with degrees in related areas, such as graphic or architectural design.
A portfolio that demonstrates your design and creative ability is also necessary.
A tertiary entrance qualification is needed to enter tertiary training. Useful subjects include art, design technology, graphics, computer studies, English and maths.
Industrial designers need to be:
- creative and imaginative with good artistic skills
- able to work well under pressure
- motivated and confident
- able to accept criticism
- good communicators
- persuasive, as they need to sell their ideas and designs to clients.
Useful experience for industrial designers includes:
- drawing experience
- computer-aided design (CAD) experience
- draughting work
- architecture or interior design work
- craft or furniture design
- manufacturing work in a workshop
- running a business.
Find out more about training
- Designers' Institute of New Zealand (DINZ)
- (09) 529 1713 - email@example.com - www.dinz.org.nz
What are the chances of getting a job?
Opportunities for industrial designers picking up
Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment estimates show the number of industrial designers remained relatively static between 2010 and 2012. However, with the Government investing more money into research and development, opportunities are beginning to pick up.
The scope of industrial design is broadening to include designing user experiences, systems and processes as well as commercial products, so industrial design graduates can move into a wide variety of roles.
Fisher & Paykel to take on more designers
Fisher & Paykel Appliances announced in February 2013 that it is recruiting 100 new staff for research and development roles at its Auckland and Dunedin design centres over the next two years. This expansion will likely create opportunites for new graduates.
Industrial design students can get sponsorship to increase chances of finding work
Most industrial design students spend the final year of their degree researching and then designing a product. Companies will sometimes sponsor students to design a specific product for them, and this relationship can lead to full-time work.
Types of employers varied
Increasingly, many industrial designers work in multi-disciplinary collaborative 'clusters'. They may also work in design departments for large manufacturing companies, design or engineering consultancies, architectural practices, or into self employment. They may do design work for businesses in many areas, including:
- home appliances
- recreational equipment
- marine or aircraft interiors
- film production
- medical appliances
- retail space design
- service design
- yarn development and textile construction
- lighting and landscape design
- stage and tourism design.
- Better by Design, 'Design Integrated Business?', accessed July 2013, (www.betterbydesign.org.nz).
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2003-2012 Occupation Data’ (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2012.
- Massey University, 'Bachelor of Design (Industrial Design)', accessed July 2013, (creative.massey.ac.nz).
- The New Zealand Herald, 'Industrial Design at the Cutting Edge', June 8, 2013, (www.nzherald.co.nz).
- The New Zealand Herald, 'Govt Wants Business to Double R & D Spend', August 21, 2012 (www.nzherald.co.nz).
Progression and specialisations
Industrial designers can progress by moving into management roles or by starting their own design company.
Industrial designers may specialise as a:
- Product Designer
- Product designers specialise in designing consumer products and goods, rather than buildings and larger objects.
- Computer Aided Designer
- Computer Aided Design (CAD) involves the use of specialised computer software to create three-dimensional models of products and designs.
Last updated 15 February 2018