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Job Photographs

  • Two men are sitting at a large desk, talking.  They are making notes in notepads and looking at a piece of paper.

    Looking through a design brief.

  • A man is sitting at a large desk.  He is drawing on pieces of paper, which are spread out in front of him on the desk.

    Sketching ideas down on paper.

  • A man is standing in a design studio.  He is using a mobile phone.

    Discussing a deadline with a client on the phone.

  • A man is sitting at a desk, using a computer.  He is using design software.

    Producing a 3D model of a design using CAD software.

  • A man is sitting at a desk, looking at some objects in front of him.  There are also some paper documents on the desk.

    Looking at the final product that has been designed.

  • A man is sitting at a desk, looking through some magazines.

    Looking through magazines and journals to research current design trends.

  • A man is sitting at a desk, using a computer.

    Producing final drawings on a computer.

  • A man is sitting at a desk, speaking to another man, who is standing next to him.  There is a computer on the desk.

    Working with another designer.

  • Product Designer

Product Designer

Introduction

Product designers create designs for three-dimensional objects ranging from household items such as kettles, hairdryers and washing machines, to industrial appliances.

Also known as

  • Designer, Product
  • Industrial Designer
  • Three-Dimensional Product Designer

Video: - Andrew: Industrial Design Assistant

Work Activities

As a Product Designer, you will create designs for the three-dimensional products which we see around us everyday. The type of products you design can range from household appliances such as televisions and food processors, to large industrial machine tools. You will play a crucial role in designing how the world looks.

Most Product Designers begin as Design Assistants or Junior Designers, gradually improving your skills before working your way up to becoming a Design Managers or consultants.

You'll work closely with Design and Production Engineers, who will offer you technical advice and help to turn your design ideas into plans and working models. You will also work with Marketing Managers who will brief you on the type of person or audience they want the product to appeal to. You will then use this technical advice to design your product for the right target audiance.

So, as you can see, you will operate at the very heart of a business - working alongside many different departments.

Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.

Personal Qualities and Skills

To become a Poduct Designer, you need:

  • creative and artistic skills
  • an understanding of colour, shape and form
  • good people skills
  • an understanding of different materials used
  • good research skills
  • to keep up to date with new design developments
  • good organisation and planning skills
  • IT skills

Self-employed or freelance Product Designers will need business and marketing skills.

Pay and Opportunities

Pay

The pay rates given below are approximate.

  • Starting: £24,000 - £25,000
  • With experience: £26,500 - £31,000
  • Higher earners can make around £45,000 a year, and higher salaries are possible.

You may receive profit-related bonuses, in addition to your salary.

Hours of work

Product Designers usually work 39 hours a week, Monday to Friday. Working hours for self-employed Product Designers may be irregular, depending on how much work you have. Late finishes and weekend work may be required from time to time, especially as deadlines approach.

Where could I work?

Employers are large manufacturing companies and design consultancies.

Opportunities for Product Designers occur with employers in towns and cities throughout the UK.

Self-employment

Opportunities occur for experienced Product Designers to work on a self-employed, freelance basis in consultancy and fixed-term contract work.

Where are vacancies advertised?

Vacancies are advertised in design industry magazines/journals, on recruitment and employers' websites, and on Find a Job (www.gov.uk/jobsearch).

Social media websites, such as LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook, are a great way to network, find vacancies and get in contact with possible employers. Make sure that your profile presents you in a professional manner that will appeal to potential employers.

Take a look at our General Information Article 'Finding Work Online'.

Entry Routes and Training

Entry routes

You will usually need to have a degree in a relevant subject in order to enter this career, however relevant work experience is also highly valued by employers.

Product design covers the areas of both art and science. Because of this, relevant courses are offered as BA, BSc and BEng degrees - science and art.

Relevant foundation degrees and HNDs are also available and can be used as routes into this career, or as a way of getting on to a degree course.

Some people use art Foundation courses as a way of progressing to full degrees, or on to other higher education courses.

A great way to get into this career is through an internship. Take a look at our information article 'Internships', for more details.

An Intermediate or Advanced Level Apprenticeship is also a great place to start. You may be able to study for an NVQ as part of your apprenticeship.

Training

Some of your training will be on-the-job.

Work Experience

Skills gained as an Assistant in a design studio or workshop or in a design consultancy are valued. Experience in related fields, such as advertising or marketing, is also useful. Commercial awareness and an understanding of the industry you wish to work in is an advantage.

Progression

With experience, some people in this career move into Senior Product Designer positions. Some move into self-employment.

Qualifications

Science Path

To get on to a relevant BSc or BEng, you'll usually need:

  • 2 or more A levels where some courses ask that you have a pass in maths, and/or a science subject
  • 4/5 GCSEs at grade C/4 or above and passes in English and maths are often required

A pass in design and technology (product design) will be useful.

Alternatives to A levels include:

  • BTEC level 3 qualification in science
  • an Advanced Level Apprenticeship
  • the International Baccalaureate Diploma

Artistic ability is still needed for science- and engineering-based product design courses.

Art Path

The usual entry requirements for a relevant Foundation course are:

  • 1/2 A levels where you'll need an A level in art or in an art-based subject
  • GCSEs at grade C/4 or above in 4/5 subjects

Some courses ask that you have a pass in English. A pass in design and technology (product design) will be useful.

Acceptable alternatives to A levels include:

  • BTEC level 3 qualification in design, fine art or 3D design will help you to stand out from the crowd
  • the International Baccalaureate Diploma
  • a Design Advanced Level Apprenticeship

Many other qualifications are also accepted so check college/university websites for more details.

The entry requirements for relevant HNDs and foundation degrees are similar to those needed for the Foundation course mentioned above.

If you go on to a degree directly, you'll usually need:

  • 2 or more A levels where many courses ask that you have at least a B/7 grade in an art-based subject
  • 4/5 GCSEs at grades C/4 or above. A pass in English is often required

A pass in design and technology (product design) will be useful.

To get onto an Intermediate or Advanced Level Apprenticeship, you’ll usually need five GCSEs at grade C/4 or above, possibly including English and maths.

To enter any course in art and design, you'll need a portfolio of your work.

Some universities accept the Welsh Baccalaureate as equivalent to 1 A level.

Adult Opportunities

Age limits

It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.

Skills/experience

Skills gained as an assistant in a design studio or workshop or in a design consultancy are valued. Experience in related fields, such as advertising or marketing, is also useful. Commercial awareness and an understanding of the industry you wish to work in is an advantage.

To enter the work or relevant courses, you'll normally need to have a portfolio of work showing your creative ability.

Courses

If you don't have the qualifications needed to enter your chosen degree or HND course, a college or university Access course (eg, Access to Art and Design) could be the way in. No formal qualifications are usually required, but you should check individual course details.

They can lead to relevant degree/HND courses.

It's also possible to do a part-time Art Foundation course, which leads to a degree or HND course. Higher National Certificate (HNC) courses are also available part-time, often in the evenings and/or in the daytime.

Universities and colleges of higher education (HE) will usually consider applications from candidates who don't meet their usual entry requirements, especially those with experience in arts, crafts or design. You should check the admissions policy of individual universities and HE colleges.

Distance learning

The Open University offers a Diploma and BA/BSc in Design and Innovation by distance learning.

Further Information

Professional institutionsProfessional institutions have the following roles:

  • To support their members.
  • To protect the public by keeping standards high in their professions.

For more information on the institution(s) relevant to this career, check out the contacts below.

Apprenticeships: Get In. Go Far

National Apprenticeship Service (NAS)

Tel: 0800 015 0400

Email: nationalhelpdesk@findapprenticeship.service.gov.uk

Website: www.apprenticeships.org.uk

Skills Development Scotland - Modern Apprenticeships

Tel: 0800 9178000

Email: info@skillsdevelopmentscotland.co.uk

Website: www.myworldofwork.co.uk/modernapprenticeships

ScreenSkills

Skills for the creative industries

Email: info@creativeskillset.org

Website: www.creativeskillset.org

Creative Choices

Publisher: Creative & Cultural Skills

Email: info@creative-choices.co.uk

Website: www.creative-choices.co.uk

Open University (OU)

Tel: 0845 3006090

Website: www.open.ac.uk

Creative & Cultural Skills

Skills for craft, cultural heritage, design, literature, music, performing arts and visual arts

Email: london@ccskills.org.uk

Website: ccskills.org.uk

Chartered Society of Designers (CSD)

Email: info@csd.org.uk

Website: www.csd.org.uk

Getting into Art & Design Courses

Author: James Burnett Publisher: Trotman

Website: trotman.co.uk/our-books/getting-into-art-and-design-courses/

Design and Art Direction (D&AD)

Address: Britannia House, 68-80 Hanbury Street, London E1 5JL

Tel: 020 7840 1111

Email: contact@dandad.org

Website: www.dandad.org

Careers Wales - Welsh Apprenticeships

Tel: 0800 028 4844

Website: ams.careerswales.com/

Hiive

Hiive is the online professional network for creative people.

Website: app.hiive.co.uk/

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