Product Designer Careers

How to become product designer

What does a product designer do?

Product (or industrial) designers design all the things we use in our daily lives from vacuum cleaners to cars. They consider how to make items easier to use, more efficient, cheaper to produce or better looking. This means looking carefully at what is required, researching and developing ideas and coming up with a design, which might be for a completely new product or to improve an existing one.

The process involves:

  • taking a brief - the details of what is needed
  • making initial sketches
  • preparing detailed drawings using computers
  • making samples or working models
  • testing the design.

At all these stages, designers work with other skilled people such as engineers and model-makers. Designers need to understand technology, production methods, materials and market trends. As well as actually designing products, designers take part in meetings and presentations and might put together bids and proposals for new work.


What's the working environment like as a product designer?

Designers normally work from 9am - 5pm, but might have to work longer hours if there is a deadline to meet.

The work is based in a studio, offices or a workshop, and some time may be spent in the factories where the items are made.

What does it take to become a product designer?

To be a product designer you need:

  • to be able to express creative ideas through drawings, 3-D models and computer designs
  • technical knowledge and ability
  • an understanding of different materials and production methods
  • the ability to plan and organise a project through several stages
  • to be able to work out costings and budgets
  • to be good at communicating and explaining ideas
  • the ability to write clear, concise reports
  • to be capable of taking a creative and logical approach to solving problems
  • to be able to work as part of a team and share ideas with colleagues.


Product designer career opportunities

Opportunities for product designers are increasing, and there is a high demand for experienced designers, especially if they have expertise in specific areas and a thorough understanding of technology.

Product designers may work in many of the manufacturing industries as part of an in-house design team or in a consultancy.

Opportunities in freelance and self-employed design depend on the market and the skills of the designer. With experience, a move into design or project management may be possible.

Some designers may move into the ergonomics field by completing a postgraduate qualification. See the Ergonomist profile for information.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about design that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

The Chartered Society of Designers
Bermondsey Exchange
179-181 Bermondsey Street
Tel: 020 7357 8088

The Design Council
34 Bow Street
Tel: 020 7420 5200

Creative and Cultural Skills
Tel: 0800 093 0444

Creative and Cultural Skills
11 Southwark St



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