Why you might want to consider another profession.

I had decided back in high-school that industrial design was the profession for me. What other way could a very creative, artistic type make a decent living? Trudged on through, got my degree and have worked at a couple of cool jobs. While very self-rewarding (being creative all day, working on cool projects, seeing your stuff on store shelves, etc.), I must say that I feel I should have used my tuition money on a degree that would give me better opportunities.

Can I support a family on my income? heck no. Buy an Audi TT? (the designer’s popular choice for transportation.) Maybe a Passat, but barely that. And this is after 5 years of working with good companies.

Here is the comparison. My GF is same age, graduated the same time, but got a bachelors of business administration (BBA). This entitles here to double my salary, first-class travel, a beautiful office, company car and actual respect from possible employers. Whereas we typically have to beg for jobs and work on our portfolio’s constantly, she is constantly courted by other Fortune 500 companies offering great salary and benefits.

I paid the same amount for my education as she did. Who made the better choice? Again, I like my profession (and yes, I’m happily employed, so I’m not whining about being out of work.) Well, actually, my company just bought another company, but I am probably losing my job in a few months, but that’s beside the point.

I’m just kicking myself now for not spending that tuition money on a degree that would have more worth.

Dude, don’t underestimate the value of enjoying what you do. Take it from someone who has a very boring job but makes decent money ($63K and rising 25% over the next 2 yrs). If you call that decent. And the solution is right in front of you - marry the girl! ha ha. But seriously.

BTW, did you look at the “Salary” post. seems it started off as an obvious joke but then got serious. Can those salaries be serious? must be real stars to make that. what a tool that dude was to post the smartdesign salary, if it’s for real.

Good topic. I think about that question myself too. Often wonder if I’m in the right professon. My peers are doing so much better than me financially and they like their jobs. Its just that I don’t know how to do anything else except sketch and design. I really enjoy what I’m doing AND I’m actually good at it. I’ve seen a lot of designers complain about not finding a job (most of my former classmates)

I think it really occured to me that I was getting hosed when one of my friends applied for an entry level management job, got it, and was offered $50,000 a year, an expense account for food and travel, an ridiculously good benefits package, and tons of bonus options for good reviews and performance ratings. And this is walking in off the street having studied something that has nothing to do with his job.

I compare that to my job where I’m making almost 20K less, no real benefits, I buy my own pens, books, and extras, and do the work of three people. And I wonder why I waited so long to leave and go get an MBA.

seriously kiddies,

I have been reading these posts, I am the one who replied with 130K with stock options in the ‘salary’ post.

that post was a joke.-anyone making that much money with 3 years experience is either 1) lying 2)owns thier own business and thier DAD is an aisan Kingpin 3)has the talent of a 15 year marketing hotshot and can sketch like sid mead, and also just invented perpetual motion.

I think for those of us talking here we know what reality is, and 130K isn’t it.

sorry kiddie,

thats a dream for student designers.

Not sure if you’re going about things the right way career-wise then.

I’m on my 3rd corporate ID job with a total of 6 years of work experience making $65k as a Senior Designer. This is about average for my geographical area and allows me to live pretty nicely (nice SUV, brand new apartment with attached garage).

Do you think you may need to work on your bargaining skills instead?

Ya, so the “Salary” reply was a joke as I thought and the $115K guy is a design director at a top consultancy in NYC. so the world makes sense again.

just want to reiterate what an irresponsible juvenile TOOL the “friend” of the smartnyc guy is. these boards are PUBLIC, moron.

6ix, for yourself and others, especially EMPLOYED designers unhappy with the deal they got, I agree with you wholeheartedly - you should leave the field. Your school did a poor job by not informing you that designers don’t make anywhere near what your manager girlfriend does, never will and actually become less employable with age. If salary was so high on your list of career objectives, you made the wrong choice. There are solid supply-and-demand economic factors at work here keeping design salaries in check so don’t hold your breath. Paper pushing, nice suits and profit graphs are the road to serious dough, use the system for what it’s worth.

Corporate America keeps rolling out the red carpet for any half-brained parrot with a business or mangement degree and piling up mangement layers over management layers everywhere. There are so many friggin managers at all corners and at all levels, you have to look really hard to see what on earth they “manage” all day, except justifying their own overpaid positions in most cases.

You WILL be happier 10 years down the road with your BMW parked in the company garage, making “executive” decisions, happy that you escaped the down-and-dirty world of design. That’s pretty much a guarantee. Not only that, you’ll be able to - virtually - give your girlfriend a run for her money.

For the rest of us actually passionate about effecting change the hard way, the nuts and bolts is where stuff really happens and, incidentally, gives all these dime-a-dozen MBAs something to manage to begin with.

Make a place for a willing designer where you work and do move on. No need to slam the door on your way out, though.

6ix, you may want to consider getting your MBA and re-entering the design world. If you’re freelance or consulting, you may want to look at going corporate (I’ve never had to “to beg for jobs and work on our portfolio’s constantly.”)

Never forget that your salary is an investment that your manager and company made in you based on their expectation of how much money you can in turn make for the company. If you think your ROI is out of whack, then your job is to prove it to management.

The problem I see (particularly with many of the young designers here) is that designers view themselves as somehow immune to this basic business fundamental. I think it’s because they confuse the goal of design (to make the world a better place, and to have fun) with the goal of business (to make money, possibly by leveraging design to make the world a better place for our customers.)

The truth is DESIGN HAS NEVER BEEN HOTTER with business.

Look at Fast Company this month–It’s not just on the cover–ITS THE WHOLE ISSUE! Tom Peters, the #2 rated executive guru won’t shut up about the power of design these days. He’s even writing a book specifically about design now.

Executives are listening to this. They see that there are only two futures: you either a) play in volume, or b) play in value. Everyone is racing out of the center to these two extremes. So if your business isn’t moving towards VALUE, then you’re misaligned (design is a VALUE service after all.) If they’re racing towards the VALUE side without DESIGN, then it’s your duty to open their eyes to the PROFIT POWER of design.

The money will follow. It IS following! Designers RIGHT NOW are making RECORD SALARIES and holding higher level positions–now even at the board of directors level! Meanwhile, all the top firms are BUSY and having a tough time FINDING DESIGN TALENT.

That said, design may not be right for you. But I don’t buy the whole “design is unprofitable” stuff.

agreed but I’m not sure about how much longer executives wil be listening to Fast Comapny pontificate, considering this is their last year in print,…

there is deifnatelt a biz/design fusion fairly close at hand, bu then again they said that back in 2000…

A lot of crap was said back in 2000 :wink:

agreed but I’m not sure about how much longer executives wil be listening to Fast Comapny pontificate, considering this is their last year in print,…

I heard the rumors including what was on the COre homepage. but read after that Fast Company editor say they were fine and guy saying they were closing up was full of shit.

is this another twist?

That Fast Company issue actually had more articles convincing those MBAs to THINK more like designers than to HIRE designers, don’t you think?

I mean, from looking at a show like “the Apprentice,” the contestants were constantly micromanaging the graphic designers on one episode, smart design in another, and the fashion designers in another! In one episode they were pretending to be graphic designers. Ok, it’s only TV, but all of this glamorizing design is doing more benefit to those MBAs than us designers!

What are we gonna do? :smiling_imp:

As long as ID is seen by it’s members and employers as a way for art students to make a living in the “real world”, the field is going to be dead.

You get no respect because as a profession the members rarely work to command said respect in any organized way. In all my travels, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a profession more in need of a unified public relations/marketing make over and a well defined licensing organization.

The field is ill defined, flooded with confused and unprofessional members willing to work for dirt wages in search of the unrealistic and non-existant “perfect creative outlet” and sorely in need of a professional front end. Speaking of front end’s, I personally feel the reason ID as a field keeps backing it’s rear end into the business world in terms of wages and respect is totally the fault of it’s practitioners. The greenest, newest graduating members of the ID field are the professional face that gets put forward. Cripes, renaissance guild artists were a more politically active, cohesive and professionally aware group of artists - and they didn’t even have telephones.

Here’s a thought: stop whining about it and become politically active in the IDSA… Change it, make it more professional, and stop working for such dirt wages. How about an apprentice program for entering professionals that weeds out the idiots and teaches people to keep wages high for a jhard earned degreed field and a job well done? How about hiring a marketing professional to blitz the value of ID to the world? How about setting and sticking to a decent standard living wage through an organization like IDSA and having a professional licensing and referral system that works? How about unionizing members and trying to fight and stem the tide and perception of off shore labor at higher levels? How about not giving acreditation to schools for making fine art doodling skills the number one priority and selling point to staff, students and recruiters? How about more of a focus on merging materials science and business with the creative endeavor of ID?

“We do it for the love of design” = “We are artists who will never get paid”. The whole “Don’t do it if you don’t love it” attitude just proliferates monetary failure.

Personally, I like being an artist. But what I do everyday in ID has just as much to do with business, interpersonal communications, materials science and hard ass work than it does with doodling on a napkin. But that’s what prospective employers consider ID’ers… Young, hungry doodlers. Managers in hiring positions say to me “I can get some kid out of college to do this for nothing”…

There’s your problem, and guess what, in the end we’re all at fault for being lazy, undefined and politically unsavvy doodlers.

Amen to our last “guest” here, although this unfortunately apt description of the state of ID today only plays to the worst fears of all lurking on this thread and is really a bad omen for designers starting out.

I very much agree with what was said before about FastCo’s design “special” really being no more than a thinly veiled lookdown on the design profession from a business world treating us with the same derision as always. The prevalent notion in most business circles really is - at the dawn of the 21st century - that anyone can “do” design, design is easy and therefore low cost. One month the buzz creators are out sucking ID for all it’s worth in their unquenchable thirst for more gimmicks and profitable quick-fixes, next month it’s something else. Their predicaments are forgotten by all as soon as the magazines cool off the presses. It’s the same old stare-down design periodically receives from the business and general news press under the tired guise of a revolution in the making. But real revolutions in our risk-averse corporate America are nowhere to be found.

How to extract ourselves from this deepening hole is heavy material for long debates and thick books but in the end it comes down to action and mass mobilization on the part of designers, really the main culprits for the situation at hand. The relative lack of entry-level jobs, the execrable quality of many, the lack of professional development opportunities, the age bias, the primitive and reactive approach to design problems instead of courageous initiatives, the willingness to follow instead of risking, and so on. Welcome to a world of product development where all everyone wants is being second or even third since if you are the first with anything all you have done, thank you so much, is the costly R&D for your competition, well-versed in legally circumventing any patents, adapting your innovations and doing a cheapo (read intern) new skin job to jump in.

IDSA is not the way to implement change, it is just too much part of the old decrepit and self-congratulating structures that got us where we are today. Its definitions of design and humans’ relation to our material environment in general are staid, unimaginative and trivial for the age of galloping complexity we live in. My vote goes to no less than mercilessly dynamiting all current spineless intellectual foundations of ID today - education first - and starting on new ground. New definitions of ID work, practice, responsibility and pay scales and a new strong and vocal licensing body that filters out the wannabes and hangers-on from professionals passionate and dedicated to making a lifelong living from the positive change brought on society.

I have worked in industries where products were heavily regulated by various government and private certification bodies, whether for performance, safety or durability criteria. Some of these standards organizations were relative newcomers to the game and charged enormous amounts for product tests on top of product tests and my employers were in a certification race with the competition. Ultimately, more different certifications on the box inevitably affected quality, consistency and the cherished bottom line as customers gravitated towards the most reassuring products despite their higher cost. Widely known, respected and understood standards conformity pull up a product’s value, perceived as well as tangible.

Business functions on metrics and measurable risk, it always did. But what it gets now in hiring product designers has liability written all over it, unpredictable “artists” that we are, so it is naturally inclined to minimize its potential losses in this hiring transaction. We come from a rather chaotic and contradictory educational background on which no two schools can agree, with no “guarantee” whatsoever of profitable field performance, so why expect high wages, professional respect or job security? Do you buy products with no guarantees whatsoever? That don’t conform to any norms?

The design profession desperately needs a new set of solid standards for its practitioners and at least one new credible 21st century organization to carefully assign its accreditation to worthwhile members. Far more than pretty plastic objects is at stake here. Designers are themselves the first competing products that need to perform to measurable expectations and minimum standards if we want salaries and business respect to follow and careers in this field to last beyond five years. It will take time for a new accreditation system to establish itself but in the end employers will come to actively seek that sort of quality practitioners because these will have left a consistent imprint elsewhere. Value today is in the consistency of quality, just ask GM. Or Toyota. This is called turning the tables, from the wandering job beggars we are perceived as now to becoming sought-after experts with negotiating leverage because in short market supply.


To guest and Egg:

I suggest you make your way over to the Design Managment Institute website and read through what they have to say. I think they have been practicing for quite some time what you two are preaching.


[quote=“nydesignguy”]To guest and Egg:

I suggest you make your way over to the Design Managment Institute website and read through what they have to say. I think they have been practicing for quite some time what you two are preaching.


Not so sure, ny. No disrespect meant to well-intentioned DMI members and their otherwise laudable - if shortsighted and failure-prone - objectives, but another business club and corporate love-ins are far from what I’m advocating. Not to mention there’s little evidence that shyly bedding Big Business and just “getting it over with” has had any meaningful impact where it matters - designers’ everyday lot and the profession’s low-key image and monetary worth. Designers need to take a clue from (but not mimic) the professional practice of architecture and not delude themselves with any form of design “management” saving everyday design practice from future redundancy. The very fundamentals of ID’s relevance to business and society as a whole are what need revision, not escaping into improvised design business theory, whatever that is worth. This is something that has to come from within, from our own group. Anything short of that is either laziness or plain cowardice. DMI will not solve our dilemmas or do our homework, their goal is just propagating the same sick and abusive practice of design, not challenge BB interests, which would be the more difficult alternative.

Big can of worms here. Better not open. Proves my points.