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Career and Education Opportunities for Industrial Designers in Birmingham, Alabama

Many educational and employment opportunities exist for industrial designers in the Birmingham, Alabama area. About 350 people are currently employed as industrial designers in Alabama. By 2016, this is expected to grow by 5% to 370 people employed. This is not quite as good as the national trend for industrial designers, which sees this job pool growing by about 9.0% over the next eight years. In general, industrial designers develop and design manufactured products, such as cars, home appliances, and children's toys.

Industrial designers earn approximately $20 hourly or $42,650 per year on average in Alabama. Nationally they average about $27 per hour or $57,350 per year. Earnings for industrial designers are better than earnings in the general category of Art and Design in Alabama and better than general Art and Design category earnings nationally. People working as industrial designers can fill a number of jobs, such as: game designer, motorcycle designer, and graphic designer.

The Birmingham area is home to fifteen schools of higher education, including two within twenty-five miles of Birmingham where you can get a degree as an industrial designer. Given that the most common education level for industrial designers is a Bachelor's degree, you can expect to spend about four years training to become an industrial designer if you already have a high school diploma.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Industrial Designer

Industrial Designer video from the State of New Jersey Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development

In general, industrial designers develop and design manufactured products, such as cars, home appliances, and children's toys. They also combine artistic talent with research on product use, marketing, and materials to create the most functional and appealing product design.

Industrial designers ready sketches of concepts or blueprints, using drafting instruments, paints and brushes, or computer-aided layout equipment. They also talk with engineering or sales departments, or with customers, to determine and evaluate layout concepts for manufactured products. Equally important, industrial designers have to modify and refine designs, using working models, to conform with customer specifications or changes in layout trends. They are often called upon to present designs and reports to customers or layout committees for approval, and consider need for modification. They are expected to direct and schedule the fabrication of models or samples and the drafting of working drawings and specification sheets from sketches. Finally, industrial designers evaluate feasibility of layout concepts, on the basis of factors such as appearance, safety, function, serviceability, budget, production costs/methods, and market characteristics.

Every day, industrial designers are expected to be able to prioritize information for further consideration. They need to articulate ideas and problems. It is also important that they listen to and understand others in meetings.

It is important for industrial designers to read publications and study competing products and layout styles and motifs to obtain perspective and generate layout concepts. They are often called upon to direct the look and function of product lines. They also participate in new product planning or market research, including studying the potential need for new products. They are sometimes expected to investigate product characteristics such as the product's safety and handling qualities, its market appeal, how efficiently it can be produced, and ways of distributing, using and maintaining it. Somewhat less frequently, industrial designers are also expected to design manufacturing procedures and monitor the manufacture of their designs in a factory to further optimize operations and product quality.

Industrial designers sometimes are asked to advise corporations on issues involving corporate image projects or problems. And finally, they sometimes have to design industrial standards and regulatory guidelines.

Like many other jobs, industrial designers must be thorough and dependable and be reliable.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Birmingham include:

  • Art Director. Formulate design concepts and presentation approaches, and direct workers engaged in art work, layout design, and copy writing for visual communications media, such as magazines, books, and packaging.
  • Craftsman. Create or reproduce hand-made objects for sale and exhibition using a variety of techniques, such as welding, weaving, and needlecraft.
  • Display Specialist. Plan and erect commercial displays.
  • Fashion Designer. Design clothing and accessories. Create original garments or design garments that follow well established fashion trends. May develop the line of color and kinds of materials.
  • Fine Artist. Create original artwork using any of a wide variety of mediums and techniques.
  • Graphic Designer. Design or create graphics to meet specific commercial or promotional needs, such as packaging, displays, or logos. May use a variety of mediums to achieve artistic or decorative effects.
  • Interior Designer. Plan, design, and furnish interiors of residential, commercial, or industrial buildings. Formulate design which is practical, aesthetic, and conducive to intended purposes, such as raising productivity, selling merchandise, or improving life style. May specialize in a particular field, style, or phase of interior design.
  • Multi-Media Artist or Animator. Create special effects, animation, or other visual images using film, video, or other electronic tools and media for use in products or creations, such as computer games, movies, and commercials.
  • Set and Exhibit Designer. Design special exhibits and movie, television, and theater sets. May study scripts, confer with directors, and conduct research to determine appropriate architectural styles.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Industrial Designer Training

ITT Technical Institute-Bessemer - Bessemer, AL

ITT Technical Institute-Bessemer, 6270 Park South Drive, Bessemer, AL 35022. ITT Technical Institute-Bessemer is a small school located in Bessemer, Alabama. It is a private for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 1,104 students and an admission rate of 48%. ITT Technical Institute-Bessemer has an associate's degree program in Design and Visual Communications.

Lawson State Community College-Birmingham Campus - Birmingham, AL

Lawson State Community College-Birmingham Campus, 3060 Wilson Rd SW, Birmingham, AL 35221-1717. Lawson State Community College-Birmingham Campus is a small college located in Birmingham, Alabama. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 3,507 students. Lawson State Community College-Birmingham Campus has a less than one year and a one to two year program in Commercial and Advertising Art which graduated one and one students respectively in 2008.


Certified Lighting Management Consultant: The lighting industry prides itself on distinguishing those persons who have accomplished this professional and personal achievement.

For more information, see the International Association of Lighting Management Companies website.

Certified Apprentice Lighting Technician: NALMCO offers a home study certification program, the Certified Apprentice Lighting Technician (CALT), which is indispensable for both entry-level and midlevel lighting management personnel.

For more information, see the International Association of Lighting Management Companies website.

Certified Senior Lighting Technician: NALMCO offers a home study certification program, the Certified Senior Lighting Technician (CSLT) which is indispensable for both entry-level and midlevel lighting management personnel.

For more information, see the International Association of Lighting Management Companies website.

Web Graphics and Multimedia Certificate: Equips the student for work as a Web graphic artist, creating illustrations, pictures, buttons, and other images for use on the Web, as well as the ability to create interactive multimedia designs in Flash or other programs.

For more information, see the International Webmasters Association website.

Highway Design: This certification program was designed for engineering technicians who are engaged in the preparation of plans, specifications, and estimates for proposed highway construction projects.

For more information, see the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies website.

Certified Playground Safety Inspector: Known as the most comprehensive training program on public playground safety, NRPA's National Playground Safety Institute offers hours of training by nationally certified playground safety experts, and prepares professionals for the Certified Playground Safety Inspector (CPSI) exam.

For more information, see the National Recreation and Park Association website.


Birmingham, Alabama
Birmingham, Alabama photo by Eric_in_SF

Birmingham is located in Jefferson County, Alabama. It has a population of over 228,798, which has shrunk by 5.8% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Birmingham, 81, is well below the national average. New single-family homes in Birmingham cost $187,300 on average, which is well above the state average. In 2008, one hundred thirty-two new homes were built in Birmingham, down from two hundred thirty-two the previous year.

The top three industries for women in Birmingham are health care, educational services, and finance and insurance. For men, it is construction, accommodation and food services, and health care. The average travel time to work is about 24 minutes. More than 18.5% of Birmingham residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 6.6%, is lower than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Birmingham is 12.5%, which is greater than Alabama's average of 10.7%.

The percentage of Birmingham residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 60.1%, is more than both the national and state average. Williams Chapel Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, Westminister Presbyterian Church and West End Methodist Church are all churches located in Birmingham. The most common religious groups are the Southern Baptist Convention, the United Methodist Church and the Catholic Church.

Birmingham is home to the Mineral Park Municipal Golf Course and the Cooper Green Golf Course as well as Avondale Mills Park and Smithfield Historic District. Shopping malls in the area include Acipco Shopping Center, Altadena Square Shopping Center and Parkway East Huffman Shopping Center. Visitors to Birmingham can choose from Marriott Hotel Birmingham, Rime Garden Extended Stay Suites and Studioplus for temporary stays in the area.