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Careers Advice: How To Become a Product designer

Product Designer.jpg

What is a Product designer?

A product designer will use design skills and their technical knowledge to improve the way that current products function and look. You will also look for ways to make them higher in quality and cheaper to produce. You may also be involved in the design process of a whole new product.

Product designers have designed most products that we come across in our day-to-day lives, e.g. clocks, chairs, cutlery and computers.

What does a Product designer do?

Responsibilities are likely to vary depending on your projects, but they are likely to include:

  • Meeting with colleagues or clients to discuss the design brief of specific projects

  • Working closely with engineers, sales teams and marketing staff

  • Analysing and working with different technology and methods production

  • Working with and reviewing budgets

  • Working within tight deadlines

  • Researching similar projects and developing ideas that are potential competition

  • Making sketches of ideas

  • Brainstorming the most effective ideas and producing detailed computerised drawings

  • Ordering samples

  • Producing and presenting reports on the various stages of the development process

  • Altering the product based on feedback from presentations

  • Overseeing the testing process of each project

  • Making presentations to potential clients with the hope of creating new customers

Skills & interests required for a Product designer

  • Creativity

  • An understanding of materials and production methods

  • An understanding of what customers want

  • Strong IT skills

  • Organisational skills

  • An ability to take constructive criticism from colleagues

  • An ability to sell

  • The ability to work with deadlines and budgets

  • Strong writing skills for written reports

  • Flexibility between hand drawing and computer-aided drawings

Working hours

Product designers usually work 37 hour weeks, Monday to Friday.

Work base

You are likely to be based in an office, workshop or studio; however, you may have to liaise with teams based in factories where the items are made.

Travel

You may be required a full driving license to travel between office and factories.

Salary ranges & earning potential

Newly qualified product designers may earn between £17,000 to £20,000 a year, whereas more experienced designers are likely to earn between £25,000 and £35,000.

More senior product designers can earn up to £45,000.

Education requirements

New entrants to this field usually need a degree or an HNC/HND in design. Additionally, postgraduate specialisation is desired by many employers.

Useful subjects to study at school & university

  • Product design

  • Engineering

  • Art

  • Design technology

Useful resources

The Chartered Society of Designers
Design Council
The Design and Technology Association

Photo by Nick Youngson (CC BY-SA 3.0), available at Alpha Stock Images, cropped and resized.