Product designer

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Career outlook for

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

Average UK salary

Currently employed in Scotland

Jobs forecast

This information is supplied by LMI For All, where data is currently available for Scotland.

What's it like?

You’d create the look and feel of items that people use every day. You’d find out what the manufacturers want to make, then research the idea and use your creativity to develop a design.

You would usually specialise in a particular product type, based on your training or experience. You could design completely new products or work on existing products.

For example, you could design mobile phones and home appliances, or larger products such as cars.

You’d make sure the item is attractive, efficient and easy to use. You’d also need to ensure it is cost-effective to make.

You would:

  • Take details of what the client needs, known as the 'brief'
  • Develop ideas and make initial sketches
  • Decide on suitable materials
  • Use computer design software to produce detailed final drawings or 3D models
  • Make samples or working models
  • Test the design to identify problems
  • Find solutions for any problems

At all stages, you would work with skilled colleagues like engineers and model-makers. It would be important to understand different materials and production methods.

As well as designing, you would also take part in meetings and presentations. You might put together bids and proposals for new work.

Working conditions

Hours

You would usually work from 9am to 5pm, but might have to do longer hours to meet deadlines.

Environment

Although you would be based in a studio, office or workshop, you could also spend time in the factory where the items you design are made.

UK employment status

Full-time

Part-time

Self employed

Here are some of the skills that people in this job would be most likely to have:

  • Communicating with people
  • Working as part of a team
  • Communicating ideas through writing
  • Using computers
  • Designing
  • Finding solutions to problems
  • Being logical
  • Being creative
  • Budgeting
  • Planning and organising

Build your skills

Your skills can help you choose the career that’s right for you. You can build your skills through work, study or activities you do in your spare time.

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

Keep track of your skills in your account and find the jobs, opportunities and courses that suit you.

Click here to view / add your skills

Getting in

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

Foundation Apprenticeships

Choosing a Foundation Apprenticeship as one of your subjects in S5 and S6 can help you get a head start with this type of job.

You'll get an SCQF level 6 qualification (the same level as a Higher) plus valuable work placement experience and skills you can't learn in a classroom.

Interested? Find out what's on offer at your school on Apprenticeships.scot.

Qualifications

You would need an honours degree (SCQF level 10) in:

  • Product design
  • Product design engineering
  • Or other design courses with options in product design

You could get this job through a Modern Apprenticeship in Design (SCQF Level 7).

You can enter a 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.

Entry to a degree (SCFQ level 9/10) requires National 5 qualifications and a minimum of three Highers or a relevant HNC/HND. For entry to engineering degrees you usually need four to five Highers including maths and science/technologies subject (SCQF level 6).

Useful subjects

Courses often require English, maths and art and design or science/technologies subjects for engineering-centred courses.

Other design-centred subjects and social studies subjects may be helpful. 

You will also need

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

Helpful to have

Qualifications that demonstrate creative, digital and visual communication skills such as Skills for Work Creative Digital Media (SCFQ level 4) or Creative Industries (SCFQ level 5).

Work-based qualifications such as a Diploma in Creative and Digital Media (SCQF level 7).