Wondering if anyone knows of a site that defines the standard roles and responsibility for the various levels of Industrial Designers. I’m looking for something that i can use as a foundation to refine and build upon, also if you know of one for M/E’s that would be great too.
There isn’t much standardization, but I can say how I define them, which is based on the places I have worked. The years are just a guidepost, notice they overlap as it all depends on the individual.
Jr Designer (or designer level 1 in some orgs): novice, 0-3 years experience. Needs lots of guidance and direction. Brings lots of fresh ideas, new approaches, energy, enthusiasm, and is a sponge.
Designer (or designer level 2 in some orgs): journeyman, 2-6 years experience. More independent. Self starter. Needs feedback, but not as much hands on guidance. Can present to and communicate with other departments (engineerings, marketing, product line management). Has an decent level of understanding of costing and production techniques. Can get things done on time.
Sr Designer: expert, 5-10 years experience. Completely independent operator. Needs very little feedback. Can run some programs completely, can present to execs, can mentor younger designers. Is a role model to younger designers. Understands the product development process and can set own time tables, and has a firm understanding of costing, and production techniques.
Principle: uber expert, 8-20 years. A true expert practitioner. Basically a Sr, but just better. Could have been a director, but just didn’t want to be. Not all places have the budget to afford this.
If I had a 10 person team I would look to have a mix of:
3 level 2s
2 SRs or Principle
Thanks Yo, I have been curious about this as well. It’s interesting to see how a lot of entry level non-internship positions differ even within that category – some say 0-3 years experience, some say 1-3 years, and some make no mention about total years of experience at all.
I think when an entry level position say 1 or 2 yrs experience required that means they want someone who has at least interned a bit, and who is really good Really good trumps years of experience for many design hiring managers.
When I put out a job opening on coroflot I think of it less as writing a spec for a product, and more of casting a net. The description refines the placement of the net slightly, but I still never know what I’m going to get back exactly. I’m really just trying to get someone who as skilled, intelligent and passionate as possible within a budgeted bracket. Years of experience on the job description are more of an indicator of budget for the position than anything else.
The other thing that bugs me are titles or descriptions that pile on the adjectives, like “senior lead industrial designer” or “lead principal” or “senior design lead”, usually at very large companies. It’s like a carrot to keep them around, for an incremental bump, and not that much increase in responsibility. Meaningless. I like Yo’s descriptions of levels better (even if I take issue with the spelling).
I like the above. This holds pretty true for the consulting world. With corporate you will find that these title will change depending on the corporation. Usually your title is based on your pay grade and you can raise a pay grade gain responsibilities and keep the same title. Fr example when I was hired at Mars with 3 years of experience I was an “industrial Designer”. I was promoted 2 years later and given the responsibility that Yo described in the “Sr ID” but my title stayed. My pay grade or level went up which is open information in our organization. I was promoted again to “Industrial Design Manager” which could be hat Yo suggested as principal. I now am responsible for all ID work in the US and manage ID resources.
I guess what I am trying to say is… It all depends.
It is important to note that a larger corporation vs. consultancy will typically have different titles, responsibilities and requirements. Often, a larger corporation may have more stratified levels that correspond to a larger HR plan, so may be more strict with titles and years experience. As well, responsibilities are often less per role as spread out to a larger team.
For example, in a large corporation, an intermediate designer may need to have 3-5 years experience, but may actually have less hands-on experience, breadth of skills and accomplishments than someone just titled “designer” in a smaller consultancy or corporate setting with the same or more experience.
I’ve run into this myself in the past interviewing with larger corporations that only looked at “years” and not actual experience. HR has to follow a pay scale or it makes it difficult to arrange the total compensation plan.