Author Topic: How to increase your income as a product designer / industrial designer?  (Read 521 times)


  • Stubble
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  • Posts: 217
Hello Mustachians,

I ask for your advice and ideas on the topic of increasing the primary income stream as a product designer / industrial designer.
A dear friend of mine is still somehow at the beginning of her journey as a desginer and has to find a new apartment. She has a master's degree.
Most rentals belong to companies with strict policies on rent to income ratios to keep their own credit rating up.

Now said friend realizes how little she really makes if she wants to stay in this medium to higher cost of living city in central Europe, and our tax system is very unfrienldy to single filers. Other than pay, she really likes the job she has, which was already a big improvement compared to the very first job she landed.

Do you work in that field too, or do you otherwise have some ideas on increasing the income by adding certain skills that are high in demand? She makes approx. 38k€ pre-tax per year, and is hoping to move towards 45k. As most design companies are fairly small, there are only little benefits involved, too.

I am an engineer myself, so unfortunately not of much help with specific advise so far.

Appreciate all the small and big ideas you might have!


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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  • Posts: 1
I used to be an industrial designer, but the market for that is rather weak.. especially in my city. I eventually pivoted for User Experience design because I could easily work from home if I wanted to, have my own clients, and the pay was much higher. But really it depends on the city she’s in, the kind of industry, etc. For example, medical product design will always pay pretty well and have a good market, but I sure wouldn’t want to be in automotive design right now..

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  • Pencil Stache
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  • Posts: 733
I agree that if she's at the beginning of her career and interested at all in UI/UX design then that is more lucrative and more flexible these days.

ID is a tough field and one done as a labor of love; it generally doesn't pay as much as engineering and it is hard to get into the "all-star" level of income. I graduated 10 years ago, and most of my "successful" colleagues either set out on their own or used their specific ID skillset to work into a different industry. The focus on ergonomics, human experience and systems thinking tend to excel in adjacent fields (project management, web development, UI/UX, etc.). It's kind of a jack-of-all opportunity, at least from the college I graduated.

I have a substandard income relative to my experience and performance, but I really like many of the projects I've worked on, which boosts the daily quality of living. It is also a field that you can feel like you're contributing if you find the right job. But if you're just designing trinkets and junk it can feel the opposite.

And as your friend has probably noticed, most of the jobs are in bigger cities and higher cost of living. It's not nearly as dispersed of a field as, say, nursing, where jobs are everywhere.


  • Handlebar Stache
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  • Posts: 1941
  • Location: Noo Zilind
Ah shit, this is hard to find a job in. It's not that hard to contract in, though. There are a lot of inventors out there who need someone to take an idea to a formal product. Most of them will never sell their product, but they can still pay your friend for her skills. Multiple income streams is probably the only way to make decent money - she could manufacture her own products, sell designs to bigger companies, contract to inventors, get a sideline in an adjacent field. I would personally try to find a niche in healthcare. Every physio and podiatrist on the planet thinks they have a lifechanging product. And frankly, whoever put together BakBalls is just printing money.