So you wake up one day and your title of choice is no longer Project Manager (or inserted title of meaning to you), but instead you call yourself Industrial Designer. How did this happen? What does this even mean?
In order to become a project manager I was hired as a project manager. That title was applied, but it did not necessarily suggest a level of proficiency or skill at this position. There are many project managers (that I have personally encountered) that will leave you scratching your head in wonderment for how they could possibly hold that title. There are accredited and universally recognized certifications that can be gained through a combination of hands on experience (logging hours) and knowledge and skills based testing. These certifications are a pretty solid metric for quickly gaining a sense of a project managers specific forum of experience so I actively sought these certifications to communicate a value for my title. These certifications merely reflect a knowledge of established best practices and do not necessarily serve as an indication of your ability to implement the knowledge and effectively manage a project. While employers are able to use this information (by way of professional certification) to establish a basis of value, it is still your responsibility to deliver on the promise that your title makes on your behalf. I am saying all of this only to emphasize that a title holds as much credibility as you apply to it through discipline and practice. The logging of hours WITH a disciplined approach will net the best results and help you live up to your title. A title is a path with a determined destination that you will never quite reach. You know where you are going and you continue to move in that direction to the best of your ability, but it is a continual journey. That brings me to an important point (well 2 points actually) : It is impossible to know everything and there is always something to learn (these two points do not always mean the same thing). A title or a certification can and will get you a job in many cases, but you still have to do the do the work if you want to keep the job.
So what does this mean to design? After all this is a design blog.
You are an Industrial Designer if you choose to be. This is a title (like so many others) that you can apply to yourself. There is currently no professional accreditation or certification that can be applied. This is due in large part to the relatively young age of ID as a profession. BE CAUTIONED. With great titles come great responsibility. You have a responsibility to be actively engaged in the industry of ID. This is a thriving and competitive industry we have placed ourselves in. Log the hours for then, but also log the hours for you. If you are only ever doing this ID thing at someones else’s bidding it can get very tiring very quickly. You must fill yourself up with all the stuff that keeps you fresh, sharp, and creative. Maintain your personal creative outlets and refine your professional craft at the same time. Drawing ellipses and accelerated curves for hours is a great way to refine your skills, but for the 99% who are not interested in this as a leisure time activity there are other ways (some obviously more tedious than others). Reading, professional networking, drawing/sketching (for for technique AND for fun), and developing personal projects are a few (of many) ways that you can continue to grow and develop your craft. I will not prescribe a specific methodology for success, but I will offer the following call to action: “Be a lifelong learner.”
In an industry that currently has no title based accreditation it is on you, the self-proclaimed Industrial Designer, to establish and convey your value. Log the hours, work hard, and take pride in what you do. Titles are merely placeholders for your character, so you ultimately define the title. The title should never define you.