Industrial designers, sometimes called commercial designers, combine engineering skill, marketing experience, business acumen and creative vision to make new products in a wide array of industries. Industrial designers typically need a bachelor's degree in industrial design or a closely related field such as engineering or architecture. According to Humber College, degrees in industrial design emphasize art and design skills such as sketching, computer-aided design and ergonomics, as well as marketing and economics classes. As of 2011, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that 28,710 industrial designers were employed in the United States.
Average and Median Earnings:
As of 2011, industrial and commercial designers working in the United States earned an average of $30.56 an hour and $63,570 a year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The median earnings reported for this occupation were $29.21 an hour and $60,760 a year, and the median-earning 50 percent of industrial designers made between $44,870 and $79,620 annually.
Pay by Industry:
The BLS reports that the earnings of industrial designers vary significantly by industry. As of 2011, the highest-paid industrial designers worked in the motor vehicle manufacturing industry and averaged an income of $88,630 per year. Those in the cutlery and handtool manufacturing industry also earned high average salaries, approximately $73,760 a year. Those working in the manufacture and design of household appliances averaged $65,430 per year. Designers in the furniture and plastics industries reported some of the lowest average salaries, between $56,000 and $58,000 a year.
Pay by State:
The highest-paying state for industrial designers in 2011 was Oregon, according to the BLS. Designers there made an average of $81,130 per year. New Mexico ranked second in industrial design salaries at $79,030 per year, followed by Michigan at $75,500, Mississippi at $75,360 and Massachusetts at $72,210. Montana reported the very lowest average salary, $36,430 a year, followed by South Dakota at $38,580.
The BLS estimates that the field of industrial design will experience job growth of about 10 percent between 2010 and 2020, meaning that about 4,300 additional industrial design positions will be added to the economy by the end of the decade. This is somewhat slower than the anticipated 14 percent growth predicted for the entire American economy. Applicants who have formal postsecondary training and a strong background in computer-aided design programs are expected to experience the best job prospects.