What is this job like?
Designers have a desire to create. They mix knowledge with artistic ability. Designers focus in a specific area of design such as cars or Web sites.
The first step is to find out why the design is important to the client. They must think about the size, shape, weight, and cost of the design.
Designers make drafts or drawings by hand or with a computer. Most use computer-aided design (CAD) tools. Designers need up-to-date computer and telephone equipment.
Most specialize. Some work in more than one area. For example, commercial and industrial designers develop man-made products like toys and furniture. Fashion designers make clothing and accessories like belts and hats. Floral designers cut and set up live, dried, or fake flowers into designs. Graphic designers use computer software to design newspapers and other publications. More graphic designers are making Internet Web pages. Interior designers plan the interiors of places like homes, offices, and hotels. Merchandise displayers and window dressers, or visual merchandisers, plan and set up windows and interiors of retail stores. Set and exhibit designers create sets for movie, television, and theater productions.
Designers may work in their own office or in their clients' home or office. They set their schedules to please their clients. They may work long hours, including evenings or weekends, to meet deadlines.
Some may travel. Those who are paid by contract are under stress to please clients and to find new ones to keep a steady income.
How do you get ready?
Designers must have an eye for color and detail. Being creative is also important. Designers also need problem-solving skills, communication skills, and must be good with computers.
Most designers need formal training after high school. Some attend a professional design school, or may get an associate degree, but in general most need a bachelor's degree. It is typical for fashion and graphic designers to get a degree in the fine arts. Industrial and commercial designers usually get a degree in architecture or engineering. A few designers, like floral designers, learn their skills on the job.
New interior, graphic, and industrial and commercial designers get on-the-job training for 1 to 3 years. Fashion designers usually get their training through summer internships or by working in retail. Some designers may decide to become teachers in design schools. Some open their own design businesses.
See also: Fashion Designers.