Career outlook for furniture designer

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary

£27,040

Currently employed in Scotland

5,500

Average UK salary

£27,040

Currently employed in Scotland

5,500

"LMI for All" supplies our salary and employment status information. "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures.

Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would design attractive and practical pieces of furniture that people will buy for their homes or workplaces. You could design furniture to be mass-produced, made in small batches or as one-offs.

You could work for a furniture manufacturer or run your own business.

As well as considering the look of your design you will also need to make sure it is functional and that it can be produced at a price that people can afford.

You would:

  • Research your design ideas
  • Consider how the item will look and how practical or functional it will be
  • Work to a brief agreed with your client
  • Produce new designs, or improve existing ones if you work for a manufacturer
  • Check the cost, availability of materials and safety implications
  • Draw sketches by hand or using computer-aided design software (CAD)

You would work closely with other professionals such as production managers, marketing staff and design engineers.

Once you have your initial designs you would test your ideas using models, prototypes and computer-aided design software. Then you would prepare more detailed final designs, though in larger companies these may be worked up in detail by specialist staff.

You would need to be able to explain your ideas clearly.

If you are self-employed, you would market your work and do the budgeting and administration to run your own business.

Working conditions

Hours

As a designer you may need to be flexible about your working hours, especially when there are deadlines to be met. If you are self-employed you may have to work long hours to meet customers' needs.

Environment

You would spend a lot of your time in a studio. If you are employed by a company, you may be part of a design team. As a self-employed designer, you could have your own workshop or studio, or share premises with other designers to reduce costs.

Travel

You may travel to visit clients and suppliers, and to attend meetings and trade shows.

UK employment status

Full-time

52%

Part-time

13%

Self employed

35%

Here are some of the skills needed for this job. Sign in to see how your skills match up.

  • Verbal communication
  • Working with technology
  • Creative
  • Designing
  • Problem solving
  • Working with numbers
  • Observation
  • Researching
  • Attention to detail
  • Developing a plan

Skills Explorer

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To understand more, have a look at What are my skills?

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.

Qualifications

Many new furniture designers have an HND, foundation degree or degree in a subject related to furniture design.

Relevant subjects include:

  • 3D design
  • Spatial design
  • Furniture
  • Furniture and product design technology
  • Furniture design and make
  • Furniture and product design

You can enter a Furniture, Product Design or 3D Design National Certificate courses (SCQF level 5) with two National 5 qualifications (SCQF level 4/5).

You can enter Higher National Certificate (SCQF level 7) or Higher National Diploma courses (SCQF level 8) with National 4/5 qualifications and one to two Highers or equivalent qualifications.

To enter a Product Design or 3D Design degree (SCFQ level 9/10) requires National 5 qualifications and a minimum of threeHigher or a relevant HNC/HND.

Useful subjects

  • English
  • Art and design
  • Product design

Some courses may ask for maths and physics.

You will also need

A portfolio of your work when applying to courses and to jobs.

Helpful to have

Qualifications that show creative and practical craft skills and industry knowledge, such as Skills for Work Creative Industries (SCFQ level 5).

Work-based qualifications such as a Scottish Vocational Qualification in Furniture Making: Contemporary or Traditional (SVQ level 2/3).