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Industrial designer

Industrial designers develop the concepts and designs for manufactured products, such as cars, home appliances, and toys. They combine art, business, and engineering to make products that people use every day. Industrial designers consider the function, aesthetics, production costs, and usability of products when developing new product concepts.

Source O*Net
Quick facts: Industrial designer
2020 Median Pay $71,640 per year; $34.44 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor's degree
Number of Jobs, 2019 42,200
Job Outlook, 2019-29 - 1%
Employment Change, 2019-29 3,400

In the green building realm, industrial designers create designs for building-related products that are more environmentally favorable for human health and social equity. In the architectural design and building construction industry, these products are generally referred to as FF&E or Furniture, Fixtures & Equipment, but may also include specialty construction materials, finish materials, technology, and landscape equipment specified by architects, engineers or design consultants. Products for green buildings are designed to consider the “circular economy” or entire life cycle of the product, from the extraction and processing of raw materials to manufacturing, packaging, transport, installation, commissioning, operations, maintenance and eventual end of life reuse, recycling or disposal. Additionally, green industrial design considers the human health and societal impacts associated with creation and use of the product or material being designed.

Some categories of products designed for green buildings include, but are not limited to:

  • Furniture
  • Kitchen equipment
  • Plumbing fixtures and faucets
  • Lighting fixtures
  • Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment
  • Control devices or systems for lighting, audio-visual, information technology, fire protection, security or other building-related electronic technology
  • Windows and skylights
  • Floor, wall, and ceiling finish materials
  • Landscape and site equipment and furnishings

Role on a LEED project

LEED is the most widely used green building rating system in the world. Available for virtually all building types, LEED provides a framework for healthy, highly efficient, and cost-saving green buildings. LEED certification is a globally recognized symbol of sustainability achievement and leadership.

How to become an industrial designer

A bachelor’s degree in industrial design, is usually required for most entry-level industrial design jobs, although in some cases a degree in architecture or engineering will also suffice. It is also important for industrial designers to have a professional portfolio with examples of their best design projects. Most design programs include the courses that industrial designers need in design: sketching, computer-aided design and drafting (CADD), industrial materials, and processes, chemical engineering, and manufacturing methods. Completing coursework in environmental studies and/or sustainability will help provide important context for sustainable design.

Many schools require successful completion of some basic art and design courses before entry into a bachelor's degree program. Applicants also may need to submit sketches and other examples of their artistic ability. Skills that are important for an industrial designer include creativity, three-dimensional visualization, critical thinking, active listening, and complex problem-solving.

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