Job descriptions and industry overviews

Design engineer

24 Feb 2023, 11:41

Being a design engineer is all about ideas and transforming those ideas in to real products. It is a challenging but hugely rewarding career choice.

woman working on a tablet

Alternative job titles for this role

  • Research engineer
  • Product design engineer
  • Process design engineer


Design engineers study, research and develop ideas for new products and the systems used to make them. They also work to improve the performance and efficiency of existing products. They design just about every consumer product imaginable for large scale production. From toys to telephones, office equipment, kitchen appliances, medical products, lighting and sports equipment, practically everything in sight has probably been designed by an industrial designer. Industrial designers are not only concerned with making products that look good and that are easy and safe to use but they are also concerned with ensuring that the product can be made cost-effectively and efficiently.

What the job involves

  • Study a design brief
  • Research whether the design will work and be cost effective
  • Turn research ideas into technical plans for prototypes using computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-assisted engineering (CAE) software
  • Collect and analyse data from tests on prototypes
  • Modify designs and retest
  • Write or present regular progress reports for project managers and clients
  • Focus on usability and safety of design
  • Take into account the environmental impact of new products

How your career can develop

Experience and further education can lead to senior design positions in larger organisations and then on to posts as creative director. Design engineers can move into management roles such as project management and new business development.

Why design engineering matters

Design engineers are at the forefront of developments in the breakthrough technology of 3D printing, with proven developments in the areas of medicine, military and electronics.


  • Strong maths skills
  • Creative flair and design ability
  • Excellent IT skills, including being proficient in Autocad
  • Good visual and spatial awareness combined with well-developed technical and creative skills
  • Commercial awareness
  • Excellent time management and organisational skills.
  • Excellent attention to detail.
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Excellent project management skills
  • Excellent problem-solving skills

Typical employers

  • Design consultancy firms
  • Large manufacturing firms
  • Scientific, medical equipment and domestic product manufacturers
  • Consumer products and packaging firms
  • Biomedical firms
  • Engineering firms
  • Instrumentation makers
  • Medical device manufacturers

Typical salary

Graduate/Starting: €30,000 to €55,000

Senior/Potential: €80,000+ for experienced design managers

Typical qualifications

A manufacturing and design engineering degree or computer aided mechanical and manufacturing engineering are typical entry points. Engineering degrees such as electronic or mechanical engineering are also gateway degrees.

Further information

Engineers Ireland:

STEPS Engineers Ireland:

Association of Consulting Engineers of Ireland:

Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine:

Biomedical/Chemical Engineering Association:

Northern Ireland Biomedical Engineering Society:

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This describes editorially independent and impartial content, which has been written and edited by the gradireland content team. Any external contributors featuring in the article are in line with our non-advertorial policy, by which we mean that we do not promote one organisation over another.

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