Product designer

Design, arts and crafts

Career outlook for product designer

UK Salary Ranges





Currently employed in Scotland


Salary information is provided by the "National Careers Service". "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’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 may also be asked to ensure products you design are sustainable, long-lasting and easy to repair - using materials that can be reused and recycled in the circular economy.

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


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


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





Self employed


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  • Cooperating
  • Working with technology
  • Creative
  • Designing
  • Problem solving
  • Working with numbers
  • Developing a plan
  • Understanding

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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.


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).