How to Become an Industrial Designer in 3 Simple Steps

What is an Industrial Designer

Are you an artist? Do you love to design new things? Maybe a career as an industrial designer is right for you. Continue reading and find out how to become an industrial designer.

Industrial designers make the products that we tend to take for granted. They work to figure out the function, look, and durability of these products. Some specialize in a particular product field. Examples of these products are medical equipment, electronics, bikes, furniture, even things like housewares and sports equipment.

Some work for companies and others are self-employed. An industrial designer must be able to work with others as they collaborate with peers on design suggestions. They also have to work with research analysts to determine the right market for the products they’re designing. An industrial designer can earn a salary over a year.

What Does an Industrial Designer Do?

An industrial designer combines art, business, and engineering skills to complete his job. Today’s industrial designers should also be proficient with computers as they will use them to design models for their products.

The average salary of an industrial designer is $67,130

Some typical duties of an industrial designer include:

  • Consulting with clients to agree on designs
  • Determining if a design is practical by evaluating product use, safety, and practicality
  • Use computers to design virtual design models
  • Demonstrate product use for clients
  • Researching markets for best design and product needs

Industrial designers usually work full time. Those who are self-employed have more flexibility with their scheduling or product specializations. About 1 in 4 industrial designers is self-employed. They often work in office environments sketching designs and discussing concepts with their peers.

Industrial designers may travel to clients’ homes or offices, testing facilities, or manufacturing plants.
To be a successful industrial designer, you should have the following skills:

  • Artistic Ability and Creativity
  • Computer Skills
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Analytical Skills
  • Problem-Solving Skills

What is an Industrial Designer

Becoming an Industrial Designer

Step 1: High School Requirements

High School Courses for Industrial Designers

The earlier you decide that you want to become an industrial designer, the better. You can take courses starting in high school that will help you in your industrial design career. When you start to analyze how to become an industrial designer, it starts with doing well in school.

If you’re still in high school, you still have some control over choosing the right courses to fit in with your career goals. In industrial design or any design career, it’s helpful to have good art skills, computer skills, math skills, and more. Here are some ideas to get you started.


Take advantage of any art courses your high school offers. Industrial designers have to sketch product designs to show them to clients. Start with drawing classes. Take computer design courses as well if offered at your school.


Industrial designers have to understand business. Since many are self-employed, they need to know the basics of entrepreneurship. Even when working for a company, you will be designing for other businesses, so it’s important to understand how it works.

Computer Science

Take any computer courses that your school offers. More schools are including these in the general education requirements but elect them if not required. Not only are skills in graphic design useful, but you should also know programming languages as well.

You should consider a college preparatory curriculum with advanced courses in math and science, a foreign language, and courses in English and Public Speaking.


If you’ve taken the suggested courses in high school, college will be less of a shock. You’ll need a bachelor’s degree to get entry-level employment in industrial design. You will also need an advanced degree if you want to move ahead.

There are about 320 accredited industrial design programs. If you don’t have access to an industrial design program, a bachelor’s degree in architecture or engineering will get you through the door as well.

Step 2: Get an Undergraduate Degree

Associate’s Degree in Industrial Design Program 24 months

There are a few associate’s degree programs in industrial design. You’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree to work as an industrial designer, but associate degree programs will prepare you to work as an assistant or model maker.

If you want to transfer to a four-year program after completing your associates, you’ll have the prerequisites required. At the associate’s level, you’ll take courses in model making, computer design, and materials.
Curriculum Total credits 90

Core Courses (66 credits)

  • Design Fundamentals
  • Observational Drawing
  • Perspective Drawing
  • Survey of Industrial Design
  • Fabrication Techniques
  • Rapid Visualization
  • Mechanical Drafting
  • Introduction to Model Making
  • Materials and Manufacturing
  • CAD I (Introduction to Rhino)
  • Computer Graphics for Industrial Design
  •  Product Design
  •  Structures and Mechanisms
  • Advanced Model Making
  •  Intermediate Product Design
  • CAD 3 (Introduction to Solid Works)
  • CAD 4 (Rapid Prototyping)
  • Advanced Product Design
  •  Digital Sketching
  • Portfolio I
  • Concept Sketching
  • Human Factors

Electives (24 credits)

  • English Composition
  • The Art of Professionalism
  • College Geometry
  • Humanities and Fine Arts
  • Social Sciences
  • Natural Sciences

The average cost of a associate’s degree program in industrial design  is $43,650- $75,300

If you are thinking of joining a associate’s degree program in industrial designer program click below and discover the best programs close to you.

Bachelor of Industrial Design Degree Program 4 Years

A lot of bachelor’s degree programs require students to complete introductory courses in art and design before official entry into the industrial design program. Students may also need to submit a portfolio of their sketches and designs.

Bachelor’s programs will allow you to build your portfolio and complete internships and other projects.

Total credit hours 180 – 240

  • Color and Composition
  • History of Art and Design I
  • English Composition: Writing, Speaking, Thinking
  • Elements of Geometry
  • Computer Programming and Graphics Problems
  • Physical Education :GUR
  • Basic Concepts in Statistics
  • Communication in Art and Design – Traditional Media
  • Communication in Art and Design – Digital Media
  • History of Art and Design II
  • English Composition: Writing, Speaking, Thinking II
  • Finite Mathematics and Calculus I
  • Understanding Technological Society
  •  Industrial Design Studio I
  • Past, Present and Future of Design
  • Modeling and Prototyping
  • The Pre-Modern World
  • The Modern World
  • The Twentieth-Century World
  • General Physics
  • General Physics Laboratory
  •  Industrial Design Studio II
  • Human Factors/Ergonomics
  • Modeling and Manufacturing
  • General Psychology or Principles Of Psychology I
  • Natural Sciences :GUR
  • Physical Education:GUR 1
  • Industrial Design Studio III
  • Materials and Processes
  • Ethnographic and Marketing Research
  • Principles of Management
  • Humanities and Social Sciences
  •  Industrial Design Studio IV
  • Sustainable Materials and Processes
  • Industrial Design Specialization
  • Mechanics and Electronics
  • Collaborative Design Studio
  • Professional Practice and Ethics
  • Industrial Design Studio V

Electives (42 credits)

  • English Composition
  • Speech Communications
  • General Education Capstone
  • The Art of Professionalism
  • College Geometry
  • Communications
  • Social Sciences
  • Mathematics
  • Natural Sciences
  • Liberal Arts

The average cost of a bachelor of industrial design degree program is $141,300 – $176,600

Step 3: Get a Graduate Degree (Optional)

Master’s of Industrial Design Degree Program 2 Years and Beyond

Some schools offer master’s degree programs for students with a bachelor’s in industrial design or a similar program. You’ll take advanced courses in industrial design studies, sketching, and computer design. Some programs will give you open studio time.

A master’s degree in industrial design will not only present you with unlimited advancement opportunities, but you can also go on to teach industrial design courses with the proper post-secondary preparation.
Total credit hours 36-56


  • Skills and Methods for Industrial Design
  • User Centered Studio
  • Research and Design Process
  • Collaborative Studio
  • Current Issues Seminar
  • Independent Study, Internship or elective course
  • Masters Project I: Research and Design
  • Interactive Prototyping
  • Masters Project II: Development and Evaluation
  • Design Business and Entrepreneurship
  • Independent Study, Internship or elective course


  • Intercultural Innovation in China
  • Soft Goods
  • Active Sports
  • Accessory Design

The average cost of a master’s of industrial design degree program is $46,800 – $79,176

How Long Does it Take to Become an Industrial Designer and How Much Does it Cost?

Option 1: Associate’s Degree

Degree Time Cost
Associates Degree2 years$43,650- $75,300
Total 2 years $43,650- $75,300

Option 2: Bachelor’s Degree

Degree Time Cost
Bachelor’s 4 years$141,300 – $176,600
Total 4 years$141,300 – $176,600

Option 3: Master’s Degree

DegreeTime Cost
Bachelor’s 4 years$141,300 – $176,600
Master’s2 years to 3 years$46,800 – $79,176
Total6 years to 7 years$188,100- $255,776

Industrial Designer Training Video

Noel Griffith, Ph.D.
Noel Griffith is a Doctor of Philosophy with a strong interest in educational research. He has been an editor-in-chief of since 2014. Noel is an avid reader (non-fiction), enjoys good food, live theatre, and helping others make wiser career decisions.

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