By Brad Stewart
Special to Tribune Newspapers
Are you tired of working that lame nine-to-five job planted behind a desk? Ever wish you could play with or design toys for a living?
Perhaps a job as a toy maker is for you.
Professionals who make toys need to be artistic and creative. Also known as commercial and industrial designers, toy makers create, design and test concepts for toys. They understand kids and design products that cater to them.
Being a toy maker is not as easy as stacking blocks and building LEGOs. Toy makers need to have the artistic skills to create concepts, management skills to coordinate production and presentational skills to pitch and market their ideas to a manufacturer. You'll also need to be versed in the area of mathematics to engineer the product and reading comprehension to help pitch your idea.
Most jobs as a commercial and industrial designer require a four-year bachelor's degree, but there are some that don't. Expect to log a few years of on-the-job training or work related experience after college if you go that route.
If you do decide to become a toy maker and get formal education, your next decision will be whether to work for a major company or freelance your skills.
If you become a freelancer, you will be able to work hours that you choose and have more freedom in what you design. After you design your toy you'll have to pitch it to a manufacturer and hope that they invest in your product.
If there aren't any companies interested in your product, you will need to start over. One downside to freelancing is that the time and money you spent developing the toy won't be compensated unless a company purchases the concept.
One thing is sure, toy makers aren't in it for the money. The national average salary is $35,859, according to CBSalary.com. If the gratification of knowing you brightened a child's day is more valuable, than making toys will turn out very rewarding.
If you're a child at heart and have an active imagination, a toy maker may be a good career move for you, but keep in mind that collecting cash is not quite as easy as passing "Go."
Here's a good place to start.