Study finds pay rising for industrial designers

Industrial designers in the US are seeing significant salary increases, reflecting the nation’s improved economy, according to a study by the Industrial Designers Society of America.

Project directors are now earning a basic average salary of 31 300 which reaches 33 600 with bonus, the IDSA’s 1996 Compensation Study reports.

The study shows it is owners of product design groups who have experienced the biggest earnings increase – up from 37 500 in 1983 to 71 000 in 1996.

The study of 136 respondents from consultancies and in-house teams covers the last two years and reports the first salary improvements in the sector since 1990.

“I am sure that it will continue to outpace inflation,” says an IDSA spokeswoman of the upturn. “In the past decade the US industry has made a reinvigorating effort to get well-designed products out there and that has paid off in the industrial design market.

“US companies are making innovation a priority,” she adds.

Stuart Harrey Lee, design director at New York product group, agrees: “There is more demand for our services. One major reason for this is an increased design awareness both from American manufacturers and consumers. And large corporations are using outside consultancies to bring in fresh thinking for mature product lines.” Increased competition has also added to the better climate, he adds.

However, pay for entry level designers has not improved at the same rate as more senior positions, implying that consultancy owners are hanging on to their profits, says the spokeswoman.

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