Toy Designer Careers – Jobs as a Toy Designer
We all wanted to be a toy designer when we were kids — well, maybe a toy tester would have been ideal, but we would have taken the design job without even thinking about it. Toys are fun — that’s why a job as a toy designer sounds so ideal. Yes, a career as a designer of anything (toys and games included) probably requires an expensive and lengthy education in design and art, but the rewards of designing toys for a living are obvious.
Throw in the fact that toy designers make a great living doing what they love, and you’ve got an ideal career for people who love design.
What Makes a Good Toy Designer? – Qualifications
A toy designer is a creative person with a passion for toys and fun — sometimes a toy designer is the goofy guy that never really grew up, and sometimes they are more serious inventors with a love of games. Toy designers work hard to develop new kinds of toys and games, or to alter beloved versions of games and make them relevant for a new generation of kids. Toy designers are good at drawing — they are able to sketch and use computer models to show off their concepts, and can communicate an idea from their head to the page and sell it to their bosses.
Mechanical skills are a big part of the work of toy designers, whose creativity and originality should be cut with an ability to relate to children and other toy fans. A good toy designer knows what kids think is fun, or know how to prepare studies to help them figure out this information. Good toy designers are constantly tweaking their mental picture of a toy in order to make it more valuable.
Most toy designers need a background in graphic arts and design as well as experience working with computers. They are driven people who don’t mind getting on the job training to keep up with new technology.
A toy designer is also good at marketing, with the ability to “sell” his idea to a toy manufacturer in such a way as to convince them that their company can’t afford NOT to make a certain toy. To market the toy, a toy designer should be good at things like cost analysis and have some built in knowledge of the costs of production, elements of business like production and buying, and be able to figure out an expected retail cost versus manufacturing costs.
What Kind of Education Should a Toy Designer Have? – Schools – Degrees in Toy Design
Higher education is a beautiful thing. You may not realize it, but there are degrees in toy design available from design schools around the country. That isn’t the only route to a career in toy design — college degrees (and especially advanced degrees) in all types of design and art could lead to a job designing toys. You don’t have to major in “toy design” at the Parsons School, for instance, to find work with a toy manufacturer. Even more complex degrees in engineering or architecture are good training programs for people who want to design toys, and the more complex your degree, the better your chances of landing the job you want.
Many degrees are good for entry into the world of toy design. Consider any one of these higher education courses, and the more advanced the degree, the better:
- Industrial Design
- Studio art
- Mechanical engineering
- Interior design
- Primary education
The reason things like studio art and primary education pop up on this list are obvious — any knowledge of working with children or working with art and design is a good education for a toy maker. Toy designers have to have experience working with many different materials, from computers and other electronics and technology to plastics, metals and even fabrics and industrial design products.
Toy designers must also be educated in material safety, so experience in construction or art that leads to an understanding of different materials can only increase a person’s chances at landing a job designing toys. If you plan on becoming a toy designer and working for yourself as a private toy maker, you’ll find an education in business administration really useful as well.
What Do Toy Designers Do on a Daily Basis? – Job Requirements
Toy designers get to work in focus groups with both children and parents to test different types of toys and find out what kids want to play with. Much like it is shown on the popular film “Big”, test groups are an important source of research for toy manufacturers.
When a toy designer wants to develop a new kind of toy, they often spend time making models, or instructing a modelling department in how to make the precise model they want. That’s why knowledge of different computer design programs, as well as an ability to draw models, is important. You need some way of showing off your concept to potential manufacturers and investors.
Toy designers often meet with higher ups at the manufacturing company to figure out how to market an idea, or to alter a new toy idea to include new concepts or marketing programs. In that sense, a toy designer is also a marketing expert, or must become one.
Toy designers also play some of the role of an accountant, putting together cost analysis reports and figuring out what a new toy design could sell for and how many units would sell. This “sales report” information is a vital part of any toy design, especially if you plan to market that toy to a company that may consider your invention a financial risk.
See also: What Does a Toy Designer Do? at Wisegeek
How Much Money Do Toy Designers Make? – Salary
Remember that toy designers are engineers and creative artists combined. They understand the concepts of design, have studied art in all its forms, and think they have something special in their heads to share with the toy loving population. In many ways, a toy designer is a jack of all trades, combining a good sense of humor with excellent design skills to create profitable (and fun) toys.
Though an education in design is not cheap, the financial benefits of working as a toy designer offset the high cost of schooling. Starting salaries for toy designers start between $40 and $50,000, and depending on the company that hires you out of design school (and your education and experience) you could easily make much more than that. Big name toy designers at major manufacturers regularly earn six figure salaries, and if a toy designer were to release a toy of his own design himself (patented, of course) then he stands to make as much money as the toy makes in retail.