How Often Do Designers Leave Design, Compared To Other Industries?

Entertainment By Elena Boaghi |

Changing jobs is daunting—you have to learn a new workflow, form new relationships, and tackle a new learning curve. So what industries see the most turnover? And where is it most common for people to make a leap to a new industry? The information designer Nathan Yau published a new visualization that reveals people’s job-changing patterns, placing a macro lens on an experience nearly everyone undergoes at some point in their lives.

[Image: courtesy Nathan Yau]

Based on data from the Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics from 2011 to 2016, the data shows how people tend to switch out of some industries more frequently than others. It makes sense: lifeguards switch out of their jobs more than 50% of the time, and travel guides switch out a little more than 40% of the time. On the other hand, lawyers, judges, CEOs, and physicians tend to switch far less frequently—less than 10% of the time. That’s probably because the former are often seasonal temporary positions held by young people, while the latter are jobs where you have to undergo years of training and education. To see how occupations break down in terms of turnover, you can mouse over the visualization’s blue bubbles.

[Image: courtesy Nathan Yau]

Often, Yau notes, people tend to switch jobs and stay within their industry versus switching to something entirely new. That certainly holds true in architecture and engineering, where professionals stay in the same area about 70% of the time. In the arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media category, people stay in the same realm in almost 70% of instances. On the other side, technicians and those in farming, fishing, and forestry only stay in the same field 20% and 30% of the time, respectively. The graph, divided into blue and pink, neatly lays out the progression from industries that people tend to stay within to those that people tend to leave.

But when people do switch into an entirely new industry, where do they go?

Yau’s visualization is searchable, enabling you to enter any profession and see a percentage breakdown of the jobs those people switch into. The data shows that about 15% of designers who switched out of the industry ended up in the sports industry—which is counterintuitive and may reflect the lack of detail in how the census itself categorizes jobs. Yau says he has no idea why that might be, but the other top fields for designers to move into make sense: artists, musicians, and producers and directors, all of which are creative fields. The data shows that about 15% of architects who switch jobs tend to move into the legal field, while just over 10% become surveyors, cartographers, and photogrammetrists.

The dataset may not be sufficiently detailed enough to capture the nuance of people’s job movements, but it does reveal that even if you’re switching to a new industry, you’re certainly not alone.

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