Product designers decide how many of the items we use in our daily lives look and work.
As a product designer, you would typically specialise in a particular product, based on your training or experience. Examples include items as varied as mobile phones and vacuum cleaners.
Whether you work on a completely new product or an existing one, your aim would be to make sure the product is:
- easy to use
- cost effective to produce
- attractive in appearance.
This involves looking carefully at what is required, researching and developing ideas, and coming up with a design.
Your key tasks would include:
- taking details of what the client needs (known as the ‘brief ‘)
- developing ideas and making initial sketches
- deciding on suitable materials
- using computer design software to produce detailed final drawings
- making samples or working models
- testing the design
- finding solutions for any problems with the design.
At all stages, you would work with skilled colleagues such as engineers and model-makers. As well as designing, you would also take part in meetings and presentations, and might put together bids and proposals for new work.
What qualifications and experience will employers look for?
You need to be able to show employers that you have creative skills, technical knowledgeÂ and the ability to work to a design brief. This will involve presenting a portfolio of your design work, and usually also having a relevant qualification at degree, foundation degree or BTEC HND level.
You could choose a qualification in product design, or a more general design qualification that offers product design as an option. You could also choose to focus more on technical and engineering aspects of design, or on specific areas, such as furniture, automotive or consumer goods.
You should check with colleges and universities to make sure the course you have chosen covers your areas of interest.
To search forÂ foundation degree, HND and degree courses, see the UCAS website.
The design field is very competitive, and opportunities are often found by word of mouth, so it will be important to develop your contacts, for example by unpaid work experience or by joining professional organisations like the Chartered Society of Designers.
It is worthwhile researching companies whose products match your style, and making speculative applications. Entering design competitions and exhibitions can also be a good way of getting noticed by employers.
To read about the experiences of successful product designers, check the case studies on the Creative ChoicesÂ° website.
- Creative ChoicesÂ° â€“ case studies
What further training and development can I do?
Once you are working in product design, you could develop your skills in specialised areas of design by doing a postgraduate diploma or degree.
It will be important to keep up to date with developments in computer software throughout your career. You can do this by attending short courses at colleges or with private providers, or you may have the opportunity to do in-house training arranged by your employer.
Joining professional bodiesÂ like the Chartered Society of Designers would be a good way of accessing advice, opportunities for continuing professional development (CPD) and industry contacts.