Industrial designer


Industrial designers work out ideas and develop them into designs and concepts for a wide variety of manufactured products. They integrate creativity, aesthetics, production feasibility, and market relevance in the design of new products.

Includes people performing 3D CAD design for the manufacture of jewellery.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to industrial designer:

product design specialist
industrial designers
product designer
CAD design expert
industrial design expert
3D CAD design specialist
industrial design specialist
3D CAD design expert
ergonomic designer
packaging designer
CAD design specialist
ceramic products designer
product design expert
glass products designer
CAD designer
3D CAD designer
toy designer

Minimum qualifications

Bachelor’s degree is generally required to work as industrial designer. However, this requirement may differ in some countries.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Industrial designer is a Skill level 4 occupation.

Industrial designer career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to industrial designer.

design engineer
engine designer
automotive designer
industrial tool design engineer

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of industrial designer. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of industrial designer with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of industrial designer.

Engineering principles: The engineering elements like functionality, replicability, and costs in relation to the design and how they are applied in the completion of engineering projects.
Manufacturing processes: The steps required through which a material is transformed into a product, its development and full-scale manufacturing.
Mathematics: Mathematics is the study of topics such as quantity, structure, space, and change. It involves the identification of patterns and formulating new conjectures based on them. Mathematicians strive to prove the truth or falsity of these conjectures. There are many fields of mathematics, some of which are widely used for practical applications.
Design principles: The elements used in design such as unity, scale, proportion, balance, symmetry, space, form, texture, colour, light, shade and congruence and their application into practice.
Aesthetics: Set of principles based on which something is appealing and beautiful.
Engineering processes: The systematic approach to the development and maintenance of engineering systems.
Copyright legislation: Legislation describing the protection of the rights of original authors over their work, and how others can use it.
Industrial design: The practice of designing products to be manufactured through techniques of mass production.
Ergonomics: The science of designing systems, processes and products that complement the strengths of people so that they can use them easily and safely.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of industrial designer.

Follow a brief: Interpret and meet requirements and expectations, as discussed and agreed upon with the customers.
Determine suitability of materials: While designing products, determine if materials are suitable and available for production.
Meet deadlines: Ensure operative processes are finished at a previously agreed-upon time.
Draft design specifications: List the design specifications such as materials and parts to be used and a cost estimate.
Conduct research on trends in design: Conduct research on present and future evolutions and trends in design, and associated target market features.
Present detailed design proposals: Prepare and present detailed design suggestions for a specific production to a mixed group of people, including technical, artistic and management staff.
Liaise with engineers: Collaborate with engineers to ensure common understanding and discuss product design, development and improvement.
Draw design sketches: Create rough pictures to assist in creating and communicating design concepts.
Perform market research: Gather, assess and represent data about target market and customers in order to facilitate strategic development and feasibility studies. Identify market trends.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of industrial designer. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

Types of packaging materials: Properties of materials that make them suitable for packaging. Conversion of raw materials into packaging materials. Different types of labels and materials used which comply with the correct storage criteria depending on the goods.
Cam software: Different tools for computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) to control machinery and machine tools in the creation, modification, analysis, or optimisation as part of the manufacturing processes of workpieces.
Ceramic ware: The production process and characteristics of various types of ceramic ware such as pottery, whiteware, stoneware, chinaware, porcelain or earthenware.
Hydraulics: The power transmission systems that use the force of flowing liquids to transmit power.
Cost management: The process of planning, monitoring and adjusting the expenses and revenues of a business in order to achieve cost efficiency and capability.
3d modelling: The process of developing a mathematical representation of any three-dimensional surface of an object via specialised software. The product is called a 3D model. It can be displayed as a two-dimensional image through a process called 3D rendering or used in a computer simulation of physical phenomena. The model can also be physically created using 3D printing devices.
Industrial engineering: The field of engineering concerned with the development, improvement, and implementation of complex processes and systems of knowledge, people, equipment, etc.
Cad software: The computer-aided design (CAD) software for creating, modifying, analysing or optimising a design.
Jewellery processes: Materials and processes involved in creating jewellery items like earrings, necklaces, rings, brackets, etc.
Types of toy materials: Field of information which distinguishes the nature and different types of toy materials, such as wood, glass, plastic, steel, etc.
Pneumatics: The application of pressurised gas to produce mechanical motion.
Types of glazing: Various types of glass, insulating glazing and mirror glass. Their usage cases, advantages and disadvantages, and price points.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of industrial designer. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

Coordinate manufacturing production activities: Coordinate manufacturing activities based on production strategies, policies and plans. Study details of the planning such as expected quality of the products, quantities, cost, and labour required to foresee any action needed. Adjust processes and resources to minimise costs.
Calculate materials: Determine the amount and the kind of materials necessary to build certain machines or equipment.
Design package: Develop and design the form and structure of a product’s package.
Apply 3d imaging techniques: Implement a variety of techniques such as digital sculpting, curve modelling and 3D scanning to create, edit, preserve and use 3D images, such as point clouds, 3D vector graphic and 3D surface shapes.
Use specialised design software: Developing new designs mastering specialised software.
Perform physical stress tests on models: Perform tests on products’ models to analyse the ability of products to endure temperature, loads, motion, vibration and other factors.
Attend design meetings: Attend meetings to discuss the status of current projects and to be briefed on new projects.
Apply desktop publishing techniques: Apply desktop publishing techniques and software to create page layouts and typographic quality text.
Create a product’s virtual model: Create a mathematical or three-dimensional computer graphic model of the product by using a CAE system or a calculator.
Use technical drawing software: Create technical designs and technical drawings using specialised software.
Adapt to new design materials: Without neglecting more traditional techniques and materials, monitor materials innovation such as new resin, plastic, paints, metals, etc. Develop ability to use them and include them in design projects.
Identify customer’s needs: Use appropriate questions and active listening in order to identify customer expectations, desires and requirements according to product and services.
Prospect new customers: Initiate activities in order to attract new and interesting customers. Ask for recommendations and references, find places where potential customers can be located.
Build a product’s physical model: Build a model of the product out of wood, clay or other materials by using hand or electrical tools.
Calculate design costs: Calculate design costs to make sure the project is financially viable.
Monitor production developments: Monitor parameters to keep an eye on the production, developments and costs within your area of control.
Manage contracts: Negotiate the terms, conditions, costs and other specifications of a contract while making sure they comply with legal requirements and are legally enforceable. Oversee the execution of the contract, agree on and document any changes.
Collaborate with engineers: Work closely and communicate with engineers on designs or new products.
Use cae software: Work with computer-aided engineering (CAE) tools to perform analysis tasks such as Finite Element Analysis and Computional Fluid Dynamics.
Build jewellery models: Construct preliminary jewel models using wax, plaster or clay. Create sample castings in moulds.
Use cad software: Use computer-aided design (CAD) systems to assist in the creation, modification, analysis, or optimisation of a design.
Design prototypes: Design prototypes of products or components of products by applying design and engineering principles.
Draw blueprints: Draw layout specifications for machinery, equipment and building structures. Specify which materials should be used and the size of the components. Show different angles and views of the product.
Adapt existing designs to changed circumstances: Adapt an existing design to changed circumstances and ensure that the artistic quality of the original design is reflected in the final result.
Consult with design team: Discuss the project and design concepts with the design team, finalise proposals and present these to stakeholders.
Develop jewellery designs: Develop new jewellery designs and products, and modify existing designs.
Determine production feasibility: Determine if a product or its components can be produced by applying engineering principles.
Write manuals: Write down instructions about how to properly and safely use equipment, machinery, and systems.
Perform project management: Manage and plan various resources, such as human resources, budget, deadline, results, and quality necessary for a specific project, and monitor the project’s progress in order to achieve a specific goal within a set time and budget.
Think creatively about jewellery: Generate innovative and creative ideas to design and decorate jewellery.
Prepare production prototypes: Prepare early models or prototypes in order to test concepts and replicability possibilities. Create prototypes to assess for pre-production tests.
Analyse production processes for improvement: Analyse production processes leading toward improvement. Analyse in order to reduce production losses and overall manufacturing costs.
Plan event marketing for promotional campaigns: Design and direct event marketing for promotional campaigns. This involves face-to-face contact between companies and customers at a wide range of events, which engages them in a participatory position and provides them with information about a specific product or service.

ISCO group and title

2163 – Product and garment designers





  1. Industrial designer – ESCO
Last updated on August 8, 2022

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