How are you doing financially as a designer

Now Im not looking for someone to give me a salary average or anything like that , Im just curious to know if you’re living a comforting life, able to afford things for your home and especially if you have kids, can you support them financially?
As cool as an industrial designer is, Id like to know different peoples financial status from being one.

You might look at the coroflot salary survey, look at the area you live in etc. .

The coroflot salary survey gives you a better idea and breakdown by region, as well as title and employment area (corporate/freelance/consultant).

The answer is going to depend on who you talk to, but the survey gives you a pretty good idea of what you can expect based on where you plan on working, along with a decent ball park for starting salaries. As you can see from the curve, you have everything from students fresh out of school who are making $20k a year scraping by on freelance jobs, to design directors who are making well over 6 figures. Where you want to slot into is going to be a function of your skills as a designer and where you choose to work.

I personally don’t have anything to complain about.

Somewhat OT… and morbid, I’d like to see the life expectancy of an industrial designer.

It seems like you’re also asking about the quality of life of an ID’er, which is a little different than paying the bills. Will you have time to see that family you’re providing for? What is your measure of success? How stressful is the environment that you work in? What is it worth to you to do something you love?

Those are all still pretty subjective questions.

Industrial design isn’t a bad career. Will you go home every day at 5:00? Probably not. Will you risk missing your daughters dance recital because you have to fly to China to approve a tooling change? Maybe.

I can tell you from IDSA conferences and other design events, overall designers are pretty happy, optimistic, alcoholics who deeply enjoy what they do.

If we didn’t love what we did, we wouldn’t spend all this extra time talking about it on the interweb. :wink:

Financially i think i having difficulties about it and i can say i have an exact amount of salary for my self.

I’m good.

I was good… until my ball-busting shrew of an ex-wife drilled deep into my salary and relieved me of the bulk of my take-home pay and left me deep in legal debt. Oh wait, what was the question?

So kids, here are the lessons - don’t do drugs, stay in school, and never get married. And yes, it’s OK to become an industrial designer.

I remember I was interviewing someone a few years ago with a co worker of mine. We asked the interviewee if she had any questions of us, and she asked “In your opinion, what is the most important skill an Industrial Designer needs to have?”. My coworker replied with the most brilliant and apt answer, he said “Savvy”. If you are savvy, as in all every profession, you will do fine. The design of your career will be your biggest and longest running project.

a couple things,
the salary survey isn’t randomized, so take it for what it is.

And for someone with such a deep understanding, being “savvy” is pretty off the cuff advice.
YO, it’d only take a few minutes to create a top skills list that re-orders itself over time. In-school design is all about presentation skills. mid-level might be all about managing expectations. and senior-level could be organizational development…I’m not really an expert but all these factor in at each level and shift in importance as a career advances.

I think we’ve all made enough flowcharts of the design process, to be able to create a career skills roadmap…didn’t Rita Sue have one a long time ago?

This doesn’t have to do with design but its good career advice nonetheless. Design is a scalable career so there are people in positions at all points on the spectrum. Hard work and commitment to your personal values count for a lot:

I will offer only what a very successful friend of mine told me - no one gets rich by working hard, people get rich by being smart. He did work hard, 22 hours a day like myself some days but he always stands by that fact - it was working smart that made him as rich as he is (he isn’t an ID’er but I’m sure this can be applied here…)

Great. Thanks. The ultimate measure is always “if you are doing well, you don’t need to think about how you are doing”.

Live to work. Not work to live.


Interesting thread in regards to the quality of life. The culture of ID is something I’ve been ruminating on a lot lately.

As an ID-ish student who has degrees and many years experience in other fields, I really feel like ID has a harsh and psychologically rough culture.

One issue is the long hours. I understand that turnaround time is important in this industry, but it’s important in many industries and I don’t see them fixating on it as much. Even software dev, which I used to think was terribly demanding.

Another is the psychological games. In an industry where you have to watch ideas you’ve nurtured get killed off on a daily basis, you’d think we’d be aware of the negative psychological ramifications, and try to mitigate them. But it seems like tradiation not to…

I had lunch with a designer who works at a very big consumer appliance company, and one of the things that came up in conversation was that every friday, he was worried about whether or not he would have a job on monday. This wasn’t an intern. It was a guy who had been there many years, through several divisions, worked his way up, and was even named on some of the patents used in the products.

It’s the same in my academic program. I had a talk with one of my profs about it. He basically said that negative feedback ONLY is just the way he does it.

Whats the deal with this? is it tradition? Do companies and design schools look for authority figures who will continue this cycle? I don’t get it. I think it’s one of the biggest problems facing design. Currently, a lot of design education is having an identity crisis in the face of DIY, crowdfunding, crowdsourcing, and other technologically aided stuff. It’s steadily slipping into the process flows that were traditionally “professionals” only. A harsh attitude is going to turn armchair designers away to do it on their own. That’s bad. We need to be advocating good design, not keeping it to ourselves.

sorry… a little bit tangential.

Seems like your sample size here is 2 people?

What we do is awesome! Yes there can be some late hours, yes someone might call your design silly, superfluous, weird, or ugly and you may have to defend it in an articulate and convincing manner. Yes it can be a hard job… And yes it is incredibly fulfilling, exciting, and ultimately rewarding if you play the cards right. It isn’t predictable, it isn’t accounting.

No spec, I’m confused. Did you want me to clarify something?

That’s why I stayed back in Design School to work more on extra design projects while everyone else went home for Easter! :smiley:

Some people just like to complain. If someone was literally that worried about having a job on Monday that’s usually a sign of one of two things:

1- Your company is doing poorly, and you don’t demonstrate enough value to the company as an employee. This applies to any job position whether you’re in HR or ID.
2- Your company is doing fine, and you don’t demonstrate enough value to the company as an employee. This is because you’re not a great designer or a good fit at the company.

Employees generally don’t get fired because they’re doing a great job. Either their performance isn’t good, or the business isn’t doing well enough to keep paying good people, which is what you see when you hear companies announce 25,000 layoffs on one day. That’s just business, job security comes down to the individual and the company they work at.

As far as psychology - there is a lot of stress to deal with. If your teacher only gives negative feedback, it may not be because he’s a spiteful, terrible person, it may simply be a matter of making sure students prepare for how to deal with people in the real world. I can’t tell you how many design students I graduated with that would fight tooth and nail insisting they had the best idea possible, and that meant you would never sway them to change their mind. That’s a bad trait for a designer - all feedback is GOOD feedback, if you are willing to look at it the right way.

If an engineer walks in and looks at something I spent a week working on and says “That isn’t going to work because X, Y, Z” I could be upset and tell him that I spent all night working on it. Or, I could take the feedback, think about it, and realize “hey he’s right, this part can’t be molded and the structure here is really weak, but if I move this part over here, Wow! that’s a great idea! sketch sketch sketch

Honestly this tends to come with experience, which is usually why you see some students get so frustrated (I was there) and most professionals able to keep their cool when the CEO is telling them their work sucks.

It all comes down to experience, and understanding that no one in this world is out to get you. You need to realize that everyone comes with their own viewpoints and opinions, and how you interpret those is entirely happening in your head, and your head only. Once you realize that poof - things will be much clearer.

I’ve held off commenting here, no one needs to hear someone is doing extremely well or extremely poorly, but if someone hears ‘ehh, ok’ then it won’t excite you about the possibilities of our discipline.

Because Industrial Design as a career is rather young, I’ve found it’s easy to contribute to many phases of product development within small and large development groups - thereby increasing your value in the minds of others. To anyone young in their career; your boss and his boss and their lateral equals over in Marketing and Sales, etc don’t know your worth unless you make it known.

Since our discipline began as a vehicle to bring added value to manufactured products, I found particular value in learning as much as possible as early as possible about manufacturing itself, not design. The more you know the more you can contribute. But in the end, ours is like any other type of job - you can do just what your title says and get by or do worlds’ more than your job description (whether working for someone else or for yourself) by making the best use of your training, instincts, motivation and capabilities. I think the latter is much more rewarding (but that’s just me). I experienced both consulting and corporate ID and I ironically would have stuck with Corporate ID for its stability and structure had I not wanted to spend more time with my family and drive my destiny at a faster pace.

In addition to the normal ID-education-then-ID-job route, I also added a business degree and dabbled in other asset acquisition & management along the way (but I’ve got restless-leg syndrome so it’s no surprise I can’t sit still for any length of time without wanting to accomplish something new!!) - that’s enabled our studio to run a bit differently than most, allowing us to shift our priorities to more entrepreneurial & internal projects (adding to those assets along the way), but again, it’s just what you make of it. It would be unfair to say “Your ID degree will allow you to make X number of dollars a year”.

How are we doing financially as designers?..we’re doing as much and as well as our training, instincts, motivation and capabilities allow for us to do. :slight_smile:

It’s good to hear that it’s not as rough as I’m perceiving it to be! Thanks for sharing a different viewpoint. :slight_smile: