Industrial Designer Kaitātai Ahumahi

Industrial designers design and develop innovative products for use in homes, businesses and industry.

Industrial designers may do some or all of the following:

  • analyse clients' requirements
  • generate ideas for new products
  • prepare drawings and models
  • trial prototypes (models) to test design progress 
  • develop concept designs through to detailed production designs 
  • 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).

Useful Experience

Useful experience for industrial designers includes:

  • visualisation or illustration experience
  • computer-assisted design (CAD) experience
  • digital fabrication (computer-aided design and manufacture of products using 3D printing or machining)  
  • model making
  • architecture or interior design work
  • craft or furniture design
  • manufacturing work in a workshop
  • running a business.

Personal Qualities

Industrial designers need to be:

  • creative and imaginative with good artistic skills
  • innovative
  • 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.


Industrial designers need to have knowledge of: 

  • design and production standards
  • manufacturing materials and processes
  • ergonomic and human factors design (how to design for users' comfort and efficiency)
  • how to interpret and visualise ideas in two and three dimensions (2D and 3D)
  • how to operate digital design tools and equipment.


Industrial designers:

  • usually work regular business hours, but may work evenings and weekends to meet deadlines
  • work in offices, workshops or studios
  • may travel locally, nationally or internationally to work with clients.

Industrial Designers can earn around $47K-$50K per year.

Pay for industrial designers varies depending on experience.

  • Graduate industrial designers typically earn between $47,000 and $50,000 a year.
  • With one to three years' experience, industrial designers usually earn between $50,000 and $70,000. 
  • With three to four years' experience, industrial designers usually earn between $70,000 and $90,000.    
  • At senior level, with five or more years' experience and management responsibilities, industrial designers may earn $90,000 to $120,000.

Self-employed industrial designers may earn more than this.

Source: The Designers Institute, 2018. 

Industrial designers progress by developing more advanced skills in their area of professional practice, and may move into managerial roles.

Industrial designers may specialise in:

  • home appliances, lighting and furniture design
  • transport design
  • equipment design including medical, agricultural, electronic and recreational equipment
  • marine or aircraft interiors
  • film production, and stage and tourism design
  • retail space design
  • service design
  • game design
  • ergonomic and human factors design (designing services or products that are safe, comfortable, and encourage productivity)
  • interaction design (design based on studying how users interact with products or services).


Years Of Training

3 years of training usually required.

To become an industrial designer you need a Bachelor's degree in industrial or product design. Some employers accept people with degrees in related areas such as graphic or architectural design.

You also need a portfolio that demonstrates your design and creative ability.

Industrial Designer