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What is a Product Designer?

A product designer is someone who designs the look of different types of products, from mobile devices to vehicles. Typically, these individuals receive a host of information about a new product, including its use, target market, and functionality, and they create mock-ups of what the actual product will look like. They also have to work with the ease of use for the product, so it’s not all about the aesthetics. Although many product designers work with a variety of different items, most will specialize in one particular item, especially if they work for a company that specializes in that item. Part of their job in working with the same item is to make improvements and increase the functionality and efficiency of the product.

Work Environment

A product designer might have an office where they have access to computers and software programs that help them design. They may also have areas where they can access drafting tables or having meetings with colleagues in order to brainstorm a product’s final look. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 39,200 industrial designer jobs in 2012, and about 25% of these individuals were self-employed. Although being self-employed has a slew of benefits, such as being able to create your own schedule, many professionals don’t want the risk that comes along with this lifestyle. Those people will be glad to know that product designers are employed in nearly every industry. Manufacturing is the largest employer of product designers, and is responsible for 30% of product design jobs. This industry is followed by specialized design services, wholesale trade and architectural and engineering services.

Education Requirements

In order to obtain an entry-level position at most organizations and businesses as a product designer, individuals will need at least a bachelor’s degree. The Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that future product designers take sketching, computer-aided design and drafting, manufacturing methods and industrial design courses to help make their resume more dynamic and appealing to potential employers. These courses also create a well-rounded product designer who has the technical skills and knowledge needed to excel at this particular career.

Salary

Along with the excitement of creating new products of all kinds, a product designer also receives an excellent salary. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the annual median salary of product designers in 2012 was $59,610. However, the top 10% of earners brought home more than $94,000. Things such as education, experience and location can all affect a product designer’s salary. The states with the highest wages for product designers (by annual median salary) are: Missouri ($72,790), South Carolina ($72,090), New York ($71,130), Michigan ($70,980) and Massachusetts ($70,940).

Job Outlook

The overall job growth rate for product designers is about 4%, through the year 2022. However, individuals who specialize in industries with rapid growth will see a higher growth rate and more job opportunities and prospects. In order to improve those opportunities, individuals can take courses in computer aided design and computer aided industrial design. The states with the highest employment of these professionals include: Michigan, California, New York, Ohio and Texas.

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