Designer, industrial products

Works from design briefs to create design solutions for new products that are innovative, practical and suitable for manufacturing.

Industrial designers, or product designers as they are sometimes called, design just about every consumer product and capital equipment 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.

Work activities

  • Meeting clients and colleagues to discuss design brief and modifying ideas according to feedback received.
  • Working closely with engineers, model makers, sales and marketing staff and other skilled people.
  • Researching similar products and attending trade shows to generate new ideas.
  • Making detailed sketches of ideas either by hand or using specialist computer software.
  • Understanding technology, production methods and materials (such as textiles, metals and plastics).
  • Choosing materials, ordering samples or working models of designs and overseeing the testing prototypes.
  • Working within budgets and to deadlines.
  • Making presentations to potential clients in order to win new contracts.

Work conditions

Travel: absence from home, overnight and overseas travel may be required.
Working hours: may require flexible working hours to meet deadlines but will not normally include shifts or weekend work.
Location: outside of freelance work opportunities exist mainly in large manufacturing towns and cities throughout the country.
Opportunities for self-employment: freelance work is quite common.

Typical employers

The most common work is with consultancies for industry clients. Other employers include large industrial, scientific, medical equipment and domestic product manufacturers, consumer products and packaging, and children’s toys.

Career development

Progression will vary depending on employer but can lead to senior design positions in larger organisations and then on to posts as creative director. In addition, designers can move into management roles such as project management and new business development. Within smaller organisations progression will normally be more limited and may require a willingness to relocate.


Salary levels vary according to the size and type of employer.

Specific degree subjects required

The multidisciplinary nature of the work means that a range of degree subjects may be acceptable particularly art, design and engineering disciplines.

Other relevant degree subjects

  • Art and design
  • Creative design and innovation
  • Furniture design
  • Industrial design
  • Product design.

Postgraduate study

A pre-entry postgraduate qualification is not a requirement.

Specific entry requirements

Pre-entry experience is highly desirable especially if it’s gained through an industrial placement. A portfolio of designs may be required.


Training will mainly be on the job, and through regular updating of skills to keep pace with ever changing technology.

Tips for applications

Work on your portfolio and create your own projects outside of college work. Illustrate what have been your major design influences by way of mood boards.

Skills and qualities

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