Designers combine practical knowledge and skills with artistic abilites to create objects from clothing to furniture to websites and more. They take an abstract concept, lay out plans for how to develop it, and then create the item they had in mind.
Designers usually specialize in one area, and most undergo formal training and licensure. Many use computers in their work - computer-aided drafting and design software allows designers to quickly lay down ideas, change things, and adapt other designs. Computers have so streamlined the average designer's work that they are now essential for most workers.
Here are some of the areas of design to look at:
Commercial and industrial designers develop manufactured products - everything from cars and airplanes to toys and office equipment. They work to improve existing products (making a better oven, for example) or to develop new products that fill a need in the marketplace.
Floral designers arrange flowers and wreaths for customers.
Fashion designers develop our clothing and accessories. Most work for large apparel manufacturers, designing the men's, women's and children's lines for a retailer. Some work for high-end stores or even individual clients.
Graphic designers tackle communications issues. They design solutions for print, electronic, and film media. Their work is diverse and challenging, and often at the forefront of changing technologies and needs. Many are involved in website design.
Interior designers plan the interiors of structures, and work to improve the functionality, safety, and aesthetic qualities of interior spaces. They work closely with the clients, engineers, architects, and other designers involved in making the clients' ideas come to life.
Set and exhibit designers create the sets we see on movies, TV, and theatre productions.
Working conditions vary by the type of job to be done. Some designers travel extensively - to attend conferences, to meet clients, to be on location, or to hand deliver important plans and contracts. Many work under tough deadlines and demanding conditions - including trying to meet the needs of difficult clients. All designers experience the frustration of having their art rejected and changed, or of not being able to work out their ideas. However, design is a very rewarding field for artists, and most enjoy their work immensely.
Competition for jobs is usually fierce, since many more talented individuals are attracted to the field than there are jobs. Portfolio development is key to landing a design job of any type, and schools that offer internships and career placement after graduation are your best bet to entering the field.