How to Become a Product Designer

product designer

Product designers are the professionals behind the appearance and functionality of a wide variety of the products we use, from domestic appliances to automobiles. They are tasked with creating designs that can lead to the manufacture of products that can meet the needs of customers. If you are a competent problem-solver with a creative mind, this is the job for you.

The work

Product designers often specialise in a specific product based on their training and experience. When they are not creating new designs, they focus on redesigning existing products to make them more efficient, cost effective and attractive in appearance.

To do this, product designers are often involved in the following activities;

  • Recording the product needs of clients
  • Expressing their ideas in sketches and improving them to final drawings using computer design software
  • Researching and selecting the materials to be used in manufacturing products
  • Modeling samples, testing the design and producing prototypes for evaluation purposes
  • Working on defects or inefficiencies in existing designs with a view of improving them.

Work Environment

Usually product designers work from 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday. When they are not in their offices compiling some paperwork, they spend time in studios or workshops where they team up with professionals such as industrial engineers and model makers to work on the same product.


The salaries for product designers vary with the level of experience as shown below;

Level of experience


Annual pay

Newly-qualified designers



Experienced product designers



Senior product designers


£40,000-£50,000 or more

Source: National Careers Service

Education and Training

To get started as a product designer, you need to;

  • Earn a HND, foundation degree or bachelor’s degree in product design – You could also pursue a more technical degree majoring in a specific area, such as automotive engineering
  • Gain practical work experience by developing alternative designs of existing products – Be sure to include these designs in your portfolio to prove your creative skills to potential employers.

Because the product design industry is very competitive, you should focus on creating contacts with several professionals to enhance your chances of finding employment opportunities. You can achieve this by;

  • Attending training workshops, trade fairs, product exhibitions and industry conferences
  • Accepting unpaid work
  • Joining professional associations, such as the Chartered Society of Designers.

Important skills and abilities

To be an effective product designer you should have;

  • The creative ability to develop good product designs
  • Excellent analytical and problem-solving skills
  • Good IT skills to use design software effectively
  • Good communication and presentation skills to write clear reports and make effective presentations
  • A good knowledge of various production materials and methods
  • Good project management and teamwork skills.

Career Development

Although you can improve your career progression prospects by consistently developing creative and innovative product designs, it is advisable to obtain a postgraduate degree in product design or business administration

In addition to this, the Chartered Society of Designers offers professional development opportunities, which you can use to improve your competence.

Job Opportunities

Although some qualified product designers work on a freelance basis, most of them have full-time jobs in:

  • Manufacturing companies
  • Technical consulting firms
  • Research and development facilities

With experience and advanced qualifications, you can become a senior designer, creative director or design manager.

If you wish to move into ergonomics, you can obtain a graduate degree in ergonomics.

Useful Links

Finally, it is important to note success in this industry comes through creativity. If you can create designs that get the finished products flying off the shelves, then you are destined for success. Good luck!