10 Lesser Known Design Careers to Consider for 2018

Take a look at your immediate surroundings. Your phone or laptop, the desk you’re at or chair you’re sitting in, the building that those are inside of–all of these things are the result of design. As a career, “designer” doesn’t mean much unless you attach it to a particular industry. Most commonly, we think of graphic designers creating logos, advertisements, book covers, and blog images like the one above. However, creative-minded individuals find work in many industries and settings. There is no shortage of design careers available for those who know where to look.

This article is all about those lesser-known design careers that allow you to flex your creative muscles while still earning a decent–and in some cases lucrative–paycheck. We’re going to break down 10 jobs for designers that you might not have considered, and give you some tips on how to get started in those industries.

Industrial design

Industrial designers create the various products we use. This includes the vehicles we drive, the appliances we use to cook our food, and the toys our kids play with. Since industrial designers work in such a wide array of industries and create vastly different products, they tend to have

Since industrial designers work in such a wide array of industries and create vastly different products, they tend to have diverse backgrounds in terms of education and experience. Most of the time, you’ll need formal education, such as a bachelor’s degree in engineering, architecture, and graphic design. However, it’s also important to have a firm grasp on computer-aided design and drafting.

If you’ve always been jealous of the people whose job it is to create Nerf guns–and who hasn’t?–then a career as an industrial designer could be your calling.

Industrial designer salary: $68,000 per year 

Packaging design

A packaging designer combines the skills of industrial design with graphic design to create the look and feel of the products we buy. The appearance, shape, and texture of the products we consume all play an important role in our decision to purchase them. As a packaging designer, it’s up to you to find the perfect combination of those features.

You’ll get to experiment with different materials and shapes to create the package, and then combine that with colors and typography to build a unique, identifiable experience for the consumer.

If you’re more interested in logistics, packaging designers can also work on the shipping side of things. They have to ensure that the boxes and packaging that products are transported inside of protect the product, reduce waste and theft, and are easily shipped. for someone with an engineering background, this behind-the-scenes career in packaging design can be a rewarding design career option.

Packaging designer salary: $46,000 per year

User Experience design

User Experience Design, or “UX Design” for short, is a somewhat of a buzzword in the creative and tech fields. With so much of our lives depending on the screens we look at all day, it’s become paramount for companies to create intuitive, useful, and aesthetically-pleasing experiences. Whether it’s an online magazine, a website for managing your budget, or a photo sharing app, it’s important to have someone studying and tweaking the user’s experience with your product.

Enter UX design. As a designer, your role would be to collect data on user experience and then use that data–as well as principles of design–to create a better experience for your users and customers. As a result, you’ll encourage more customers to use your product, helping the company retain and attract business.

Depending on the company and industry, user experience designers need to know a range of skills. Furthermore, since it’s a relatively new career, UX designers often come from a diverse background in terms of education.

Some designers come from a background in programming; others in marketing, business, engineering, and even psychology. However, you’ll need a firm grasp on basic design principles, the ability to research and analyze data, and knowledge of prototyping.

Outside of computers, UX designers work in industries that create products or experience for consumers that need to be tweaked to perfection. In these roles, UX designers might work with quality assurance teams to experiment with various prototypes in order to create the best possible experience.

UX designer salary: $87,000 per year


User Interface Design

User interface design (or “UI design”) is another design career that focuses on the user or consumer of a product. The two are very similar, and in some job listings are used interchangeably, however, there are notable differences.

A UX designer focuses on the experience of a user, which doesn’t necessarily have to be on a cell phone or computer. A UI designer, on the other hand, always works with computer interfaces of one kind or another, whether it’s a laptop, e-reader, or even a refrigerator.

User interface designers work with engineers and programmers to develop simple, usable interfaces.

User interface designer salary: $96,000 per year

Where to learn: UI Design from Coursera

Instructional Design

The field of education is undergoing an electronic revolution. Colleges and universities offer courses online, either in-full or through hybrid learning environments. Businesses use training courses and materials to bring new employees up to speed. And, online learning companies like Udemy, Lynda, and Coursera, provide courses to students all over the world that help them learn new skills they can utilize in their lives and design careers.

With a larger and larger percentage of learning occurring online, it has opened up the doors for designers to create new learning environments.

As an instructional designer, your job would be to design, develop, and implement learning experiences. There’s that word again: “experiences.”

Just like in user experience, an instructional designer needs to take into account the way people learn. As a result, some instructional designers come from a background in education. Others work with educators to create courses, course materials, and interactive elements that effectively help students learn in a remote or digital environment.

Instructional designer salary: $65,000 per year

Where to learn: Instructional Design for Effective Learning by OpenLearning

Web design

Web designers are the people responsible for creating sleek, usable websites. In contrast with web developers, web designers don’t have to be experts in several programming languages. However, knowledge of  HTML, CSS, and JavaScript at the least are almost always required.

Outside of code, web designers also utilize graphic design tools like PhotoShop and Illustrator, and take advantage of real-time coding applications like CodePen to experiment with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript elements.

Web design is a great field for designers who have a love for tech as well as design, and want to find a way to combine the two.

Web designer salary: $64,000 per year

Where to learn: Web Design for Everybody from Coursera

CADD (Computer-aided drafting and design)

Computer-aided designers and drafters work with design software such as AutoCAD to create blueprints for buildings, electronics, and machines.

CADD is typically seen as a skill that can be used in a range of design careers, such as architecture, engineering, or interior design.

If you have an interest in design as well as technical subjects like architecture and engineering, learning CADD can be a great way to get an introduction to more lucrative and long-term careers.

Computer-aided designer salary: $40,000 – $80,000+ per year

Where to learn: AutoCAD by

Interior design

Interior design combines elements of computer-aided drafting, knowledge of building codes and safety, as well as principles of design and decorating.

They work together with builders, architects, corporations, homeowners, and sometimes even government agencies to create interior spaces that are safe, usable, and aesthetically pleasing. 

If you’ve always had an interest in the process of creating the spaces we work, live, and play in, interior design could be a great career option.

Interior designer salary: $49,000 per year

Where to learn: Introduction to Interior Design by ed2go

Game design

There are numerous roles for a designer in the multi-billion dollar video game industry. One particularly fast-growing part of the industry is mobile gaming, valued at $41 billion worldwide.

Designers can find a job in the art department, development department, or both at a small company. Typically, game designers have skills in programming languages and 3D modeling software. They also have to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and techniques for creating competitive games in today’s changing market.

Many colleges now offer degrees in game design and development. However, with focus and a passion for games, a designer can learn many of the necessary skills themselves through online learning.

Game designer salary: From $45,000 to $100,000+ per year

Where to learn: Principles of Game Design on Coursera

Creative Director / Art Director

Creative directors or art directors oversee the layout and aesthetics of magazines, newspapers, television shows, movies, video games, and other forms of media.

This supervisory role is often attained after years of industry experience and revolves around managing employees, often teams of designers. In order to stay true to a theme or idea, creative directors plan and oversee projects, including the budgeting aspect.

As a result, many design careers as a creative director are found at the senior level in large companies and come with lucrative salaries. So, if you have a passion for business and a desire to lead, consider this as a long-term option.

Creative director/art director salary: $90,000+ per year

Where to learn: Design Patterns Certificate Training from Edureka