Alternative jobs for a industrial designer...?

Most industrial design grads don’t end up doing actual product design.

In the current climate I thought it might be good to start a list of alternative jobs for a industrial design grad

Here are a few to start us off…

CAD Surface modeller
Design technology teacher (high school)
interaction designer
point of sale (POS) designer
exhibition designer
packaging designer
Footwear designer
graphic designer
interface design
Human factors consultant
Model maker
Clay sculptor

POP point of purchase

Technical Illustrator
Game Designer - Level Designer - World Builder
Prop Designer
Furniture Builder
Cabinet Maker
Exhibit Designer
Architectural Illustrator

Heh, this post IS MY LIFE.

I graduated with a degree in furniture design/id.
Now I work for hollywood in post production getting my IxD, UI chops together.

I just HAD to finish in May of 08.

Wow, well I got my work cut out for me next year. I really hope I’m good enough to get that crucial first job in the design world…


Just be driven and don’t give up. This is a good thread because it shows that not everyone works for that prestigious design firm, and we all have to take those crap jobs once in a while.

You may consider any of the following depending on your skill-set:

  • P0rn Star (how awesome would that be)
  • Gigolo (see above)
  • Bartender (could be cool, meet lots of “interesting people”)
  • Drug Dealer (see above)
  • Flight Attendant (see the world)
  • Used Car Salesman (nah, maybe not, economy sucks)
  • Construction (this one is kind-of serious, you would learn a lot)
  • Janitor (seems appropriate, you know we are all neat freaks)

Why work for the Man doing crap you don’t want to do? Design your own stuff. January was a record month for us, and February is beating it. This is in a market (furniture) that should be doing poorly right now, because nobody is buying furniture to fill up the new homes that they aren’t buying. The revenue (on a single product mind you) isn’t enough for me to live on at this point in my life, but if I were still 22 it would be.

Identify a good market, design a product using processes that favor low volumes, stay away from big tooling costs, eliminate as much labor as possible (especially your own), and go. Worst case you totally screw it up on all counts and are out, what $5-10k?

In some ways, this recession is just something we’ve collectively agreed is going on. Banks are hoarding cash, so it’s hard to get loans, which means house sales and car sales are in the crapper. Other stuff is not off that much, and in a lot of cases is up. People are getting laid off because managers have decided that’s what they should be doing, or because they need to be seen doing something. The telling sign is when a company lays a bunch of people off and their revenue doesn’t fall. So what were those people doing exactly?

People are still buying stuff, and every coffee house I go into is still full of people paying $5 for a cup of coffee. We have poor memories. This ain’t exactly 1933, or even 1973.

You will never have a better opportunity to start something new. Everything you need to buy (materials, manufacturing services, advertising) is on sale. You’re fine as long as you don’t need a bank loan (if you do things right, you won’t). And if you can make it work now, you’ll be in especially great shape when things turn around.

Dude I feel you! I also just HAD to finish May 2008. Perfect timing haha! Kind of a hard summer, but things are going ok now.

Scott Bennett, I totally agree!

Personally, I’ve been hot on the path of starting my own business finally, after years of toying with the idea. With no job, and no prospects for the foreseeable future, I really have nothing to lose and much more to gain than I could ever get from a crap job “until the economy turns around.”

Approaching the creation of a business as a design problem gives one a killer portfolio. Even if you are not successful with your business, you can show your experience being able to consider more aspects of a product than just design itself. Who can honestly say that would not be valuable experience in an employers’ eyes?

In the county I live in, unemployment has jumped to 13%, but even those out of work are spending money. They still try to maintain as much “normal” as possible. Those with a job are not making big purchases, but they have certainly not stopped buying everything. The lowest end seems to be getting hit the hardest, while mid- to high-end is at least surviving.

People are more aware of value now than ever before, and as designers we should be able to clearly illustrate our ability to add value through design, weather or not its for the man or our own ventures. Its taken me a couple of months since being “freed up for other opportunities” to take the blinders off and see the opportunities all around, despite what the media says is happening. Recession or not, people are still living their lives, and there are still demands that beg to be filled.

I’m right with you, I’ve been working on the same and telling others to try it also. Cut out the middlemen as much as possible, own your effort. Use that strategic thinking to design a product under recession restrictions and go for it.