Industrial designer, 3D designer, prototype designer, inventor
Product designers create new products and improve existing ones.
Salary range: £19,000 to £50,000
How to become a product designer
You can get into this job through:
- a university course
- an apprenticeship
You could do a foundation degree, higher national diploma or degree to get into this career. Useful subjects include:
- product design
- industrial product design
You could also do a course covering a particular industry, which has design options. Examples include automotive engineering and furniture design.
You’ll usually need:
- 1 or 2 A levels, or equivalent, for a foundation degree or higher national diploma
- 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
- equivalent entry requirements
- student finance for fees and living costs
- university courses and entry requirements
If you’re working in the furniture industry, you may be able to start on a furniture product developer advanced apprenticeship.
You could also do a product design and development degree apprenticeship.
You’ll usually need:
- 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
- 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a degree apprenticeship
Entering design competitions and exhibitions can be a good way of getting yourself noticed by employers.
You’ll need to show employers that you have creative skills, technical knowledge and the ability to work to a design brief. This will usually involve presenting a portfolio of your design work to them.
Professional and industry bodies
You can join the Chartered Society of Designers for professional recognition, training opportunities and to make industry contacts.
You can find out more about careers in product design from Creative Choices.
You can get more information on working in creative careers from Discover Creative Careers.
What it takes
Skills and knowledge
- design skills and knowledge
- knowledge of engineering science and technology
- the ability to come up with new ways of doing things
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- analytical thinking skills
- persistence and determination
- the ability to use, repair and maintain machines and tools
- thinking and reasoning skills
- to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
What you’ll do
Your day-to-day duties could include:
- discussing what your client wants
- investigating how existing products work or how services are used
- developing ideas and making initial sketches or outline plans
- deciding on suitable materials or resources
- using computer design software to produce detailed blueprints
- making samples or working models, known as prototypes
- testing and refining designs
You could work in a workshop, in a creative studio or in an office.
Career path and progression
With experience, you could progress to senior designer, then creative director.
You could also move into project management or design management.