Employment is expected to grow about as fast as average. Keen competition for jobs is expected; those with strong backgrounds in engineering and computer-aided design and extensive business expertise will have the best prospects.
Employment change. Employment of commercial and industrial designers is expected to grow 7 percent between 2006 and 2016, about as fast as average for all occupations. Employment growth will arise from an expanding economy and from an increase in consumer and business demand for new or upgraded products.
Increasing demand for commercial and industrial designers will also stem from the continued emphasis on the quality and safety of products, the increasing demand for new products that are easy and comfortable to use, and the development of high-technology products in consumer electronics, medicine, transportation, and other fields. But increasingly, manufacturers have been outsourcing design work to design services firms to cut costs and to find the most qualified design talent, increasing employment in these firms and reducing it in others, such as manufacturing. Additionally, some companies use design firms overseas, especially for the design of high-technology products. These overseas design firms are located closer to their suppliers, which reduces the time it takes to design and sell a product—an important consideration when technology is changing quickly. This offshoring of design work could continue to slow employment growth of U.S. commercial and industrial designers.
Despite the increase in design work performed overseas, most design jobs, particularly jobs not related to high-technology product design, will still remain in the U.S. Design is essential to a firm’s success, and firms will want to retain control over the design process.
Job prospects. Competition for jobs will be keen because many talented individuals are attracted to the design field. The best job opportunities will be in specialized design firms which are used by manufacturers to design products or parts of products. Designers with strong backgrounds in engineering and computer-aided design and extensive business expertise will have the best prospects.
As the demand for design work becomes more consumer-driven, designers who can closely monitor, and react to, changing customer demands—and who can work with marking and strategic planning staffs to come up with new products—will also improve their job prospects.
Employment of designers can be affected by fluctuations in the economy. For example, during periods of economic downturns, companies may cut research and development spending, including new product development.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 Edition
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