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Working As a Product Development Designer

  • Drafting, Laying Out, and Specifying Technical Devices, Parts, and Equipment
  • Thinking Creatively
  • Getting Information
  • Interacting With Computers
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Deal with People

  • Mostly Sitting

  • $45,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Product Development Designer Do

Industrial designers develop the concepts for manufactured products, such as cars, home appliances, and toys. They combine art, business, and engineering to make products that people use every day. Industrial designers consider the function, aesthetics, production costs, and the usability of products when developing new product concepts.

Duties

Industrial designers typically do the following:

  • Consult with clients to determine requirements for designs
  • Research the various ways a particular product might be used, and who will use it
  • Sketch out ideas or create renderings, which are images on paper or on a computer that provide a better visual of design ideas
  • Use computer software to develop virtual models of different designs
  • Create physical prototypes of their designs
  • Examine materials and manufacturing requirements to determine production costs
  • Work with other specialists such as mechanical engineers or manufacturers to evaluate whether their design concepts will fill needs at a reasonable cost
  • Evaluate product safety, appearance, and function to determine if a design is practical
  • Present designs and demonstrate prototypes to clients for approval

Some industrial designers focus on a particular product category. For example, some design medical equipment, or work on consumer electronics products, such as computers and smart phones. Other designers develop ideas for other products such as new bicycles, furniture, housewares, and snowboards. Self-employed designers have more flexibility in the product categories they work on. Designers who work for manufacturers help create the look and feel of a brand through their designs.

Industrial designers imagine how consumers might use a product and test different designs with consumers to see how each design looks and works. Industrial designers often work with engineers, production experts, and market research analysts to find out if their designs are feasible. They apply the input from their colleagues’ professional expertise to further develop their designs. For example, industrial designers may work with market research analysts to develop plans to market new product designs to consumers.

Computers are a major tool for industrial designers. They use two-dimensional computer-aided design (CAD) software to sketch ideas, because computers make it easy to make changes and show alternatives. Three-dimensional CAD software is increasingly being used by industrial designers as a tool to transform their two-dimensional designs into models with the help of three-dimensional printers. If they work for manufacturers, they also may use computer-aided industrial design (CAID) software to create specific machine-readable instructions that tell other machines exactly how to build the product.

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How To Become A Product Development Designer

A bachelor’s degree is usually required for entry-level industrial design jobs. It is also important for industrial designers to have an electronic portfolio with examples of their best design projects.

Education

A bachelor’s degree in industrial design, architecture, or engineering is usually required for entry-level industrial design jobs. Most industrial design programs include courses that industrial designers need in design: drawing, computer-aided design and drafting (CADD), and three-dimensional modeling. Most programs will also include courses in business, industrial materials and processes, and manufacturing methods that industrial designers need when developing their design.

The National Association of Schools of Art and Design accredits approximately 320 postsecondary colleges, universities, and independent institutes with programs in art and design. Many schools require successful completion of some basic art and design courses before entry into a bachelor’s degree program. Applicants also may need to submit sketches and other examples of their artistic ability.

Many programs provide students with the opportunity to build a professional portfolio of their designs by collecting examples of their designs from classroom projects, internships, or other experiences. Students can use these examples of their work to demonstrate their design skills when applying for jobs and bidding on contracts for work.

Some designers have a Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) degree which helps further develop a designer’s business skills. These skills help designers understand how to fit their designs to meet the cost limitations a firm may have for the production of a given product.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Industrial designers use logic or reasoning skills to study consumers and recognize the need for new products.

Artistic ability. Industrial designers sketch their initial design ideas, which are used later to create prototypes. As such, designers must be able to express their design through illustration.

Computer skills. Industrial designers use computer-aided design software to develop their designs and create prototypes.

Creativity. Industrial designers must be innovative in their designs and the ways in which they integrate existing technologies into their new product.

Interpersonal skills. Industrial designers must develop cooperative working relationships with clients and colleagues who specialize in related disciplines.

Mechanical skills. Industrial designers must understand how products are engineered, at least for the types of products that they design.

Problem-solving skills. Industrial designers identify complex design problems such as the need, size, and cost of a product, anticipate production issues, develop alternatives, evaluate options, and implement solutions.

Advancement

Experienced designers in large firms may advance to chief designer, design department head, or other supervisory positions. Some designers become teachers in design schools or in colleges and universities. For more information, see the profile on postsecondary teachers. Many teachers continue to consult privately or operate small design studios in addition to teaching. Some experienced designers open their own design firms.

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Product Development Designer Career Paths

Product Development Designer
Designer Design Engineer Engineering Manager
Engineering Director
13 Yearsyrs
Designer Project Manager Product Manager
Product Management Director
12 Yearsyrs
Designer Manager Product Manager
Brand Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Freelance Designer Senior Designer
Design Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Freelance Designer Senior Graphic Designer
Creative Services Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Freelance Designer Senior Graphic Designer Production Manager
Product Development Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Product Developer Product Manager
Product Director
11 Yearsyrs
Product Developer Project Manager Vice President
Vice President Product Development
13 Yearsyrs
Product Developer Project Manager Senior Product Manager
Director Of Product Development
11 Yearsyrs
Product Designer Design Engineer
Design Engineering Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Product Designer Senior Designer Creative Director
Director Of User Experience
10 Yearsyrs
Product Designer Senior Designer Senior User Experience Designer
User Experience Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Design Engineer Research And Development Engineer Research And Development Manager
Research And Development Director
11 Yearsyrs
Mechanical Designer Application Engineer Product Marketing Manager
Product Line Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Mechanical Designer Design Consultant Senior Graphic Designer
Creative Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Mechanical Designer Owner Art Director
Designation Marketing Director
5 Yearsyrs
Computer Aided Design Designer Application Engineer Product Marketing Manager
Global Product Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Computer Aided Design Designer Product Engineer Product Development Manager
Product Design Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Computer Aided Design Designer Product Engineer Senior Product Development Engineer
Senior Manager, Product Development
10 Yearsyrs
Design Consultant Instructional Designer User Experience Designer
Product Lead
7 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Product Development Designer?

Average Yearly Salary
$45,000
Show Salaries
$31,000
Min 10%
$45,000
Median 50%
$45,000
Median 50%
$45,000
Median 50%
$45,000
Median 50%
$45,000
Median 50%
$45,000
Median 50%
$45,000
Median 50%
$67,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Buckle
Highest Paying City
San Francisco, CA
Highest Paying State
Washington
Avg Experience Level
3.6 years
How much does a Product Development Designer make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Product Development Designer in the United States is $45,705 per year or $22 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $31,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $67,000.

Real Product Development Designer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
R & D Product Designer Appirio, Inc. San Francisco, CA Jul 07, 2015 $135,000
Senior Product Development Designer Converse, Inc. New York, NY Sep 14, 2014 $116,870
Product Developer, Footwear Design Kenneth Cole Productions, Inc. New York, NY Apr 09, 2012 $110,000
Senior Product Development Designer Converse, Inc. New York, NY Sep 15, 2011 $105,000
Product Designer for R&D (X-Ray Inspections Systems) V.J. Technologies, Inc. Bohemia, NY Jun 23, 2016 $60,000
Product Design, Research and Development Specialis Townley Inc. New York, NY Aug 06, 2012 $60,000
Textile Product Developer/Designer Cache Inc. New York, NY Oct 04, 2013 $55,000
Product Designer and Developer Rousso Apparel Group LLC New York, NY Nov 17, 2014 $55,000
Technical Designer, Product Development Design Tiffany & Co. New York, NY Aug 01, 2011 $55,000 -
$97,000
Product Development Designer Woneel America, Inc. South Pasadena, CA Oct 13, 2016 $53,144
Product Development Designer Tosyali International Ltd. Tuscaloosa, AL Feb 09, 2016 $48,500
Product Development Designer Tosyali International LLC Tuscaloosa, AL Sep 09, 2014 $47,500
Product Development Designer Tosyali International Ltd. Tuscaloosa, AL Sep 20, 2014 $47,500
Product Designer/Development Luxcessories Inc. Monterey Park, CA Oct 01, 2012 $46,800
Textile Product Developer/Designer Michelle Enterprises, Inc. Cleveland, OH Sep 13, 2014 $46,000
Product Development Industrial Designer Intermarket Technology, Inc. Wayne, NJ Jan 15, 2011 $46,000
Product Development Design Tap Worldwide LLC Compton, CA Sep 13, 2016 $45,000
Product Development Designer Mission 21 Nail Source Inc. Chicago, IL Sep 16, 2014 $42,992
Product Development & Designer West Supply LLC Chicago, IL Sep 09, 2014 $42,930 -
$84,670
Product Development, Graphic Designer Directfx Solutions, Inc. Memphis, TN Sep 01, 2013 $42,053
Product Development & Designer West Supply LLC Chicago, IL Sep 28, 2013 $41,949 -
$76,822
Product Developer/Designer Soxnet, Inc. La Puente, CA Oct 01, 2009 $41,740
Textile Product Developer/Designer T.R. Designs, Inc. New York, NY Oct 01, 2011 $41,000
Product Design Developer Isis Collections, Inc. Carlstadt, NJ Sep 19, 2013 $40,697

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Top Skills for A Product Development Designer

  1. New Product Development
  2. Design Concepts
  3. CAD
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Coordinated New Product Development activities between Engineering/Marketing/Manufacturing.
  • Traveled to Asian factories annually to ensure design concepts and patterns were accurately conveyed and implemented.
  • Designed and sustained castings and related parts for lighting fixture manufacturer using AutoCAD2000i.
  • Worked with rough ideas from market research to fully-manufactured consumer product; and assisted in product quality control and assurance.
  • Developed process and documentation on how to best implement VeriBest Electrical Design software with Pro/Engineer.

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Average Salary:

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Top 10 Best States for Product Development Designers

  1. Washington
  2. Idaho
  3. Oregon
  4. Massachusetts
  5. North Carolina
  6. Montana
  7. Vermont
  8. New Jersey
  9. Rhode Island
  10. South Carolina
  • (313 jobs)
  • (47 jobs)
  • (122 jobs)
  • (413 jobs)
  • (293 jobs)
  • (14 jobs)
  • (20 jobs)
  • (282 jobs)
  • (42 jobs)
  • (98 jobs)

Product Development Designer Demographics

Gender

Male

53.3%

Female

36.9%

Unknown

9.8%
Ethnicity

White

58.0%

Hispanic or Latino

15.5%

Asian

13.6%

Black or African American

9.1%

Unknown

3.8%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

36.8%

Chinese

15.8%

French

7.9%

Mandarin

7.9%

Italian

7.9%

Japanese

5.3%

Russian

5.3%

Korean

5.3%

Ukrainian

2.6%

German

2.6%

Thai

2.6%
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Product Development Designer Education

Schools

Fashion Institute of Technology

16.4%

Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising

9.3%

Academy of Art University

7.1%

Pratt Institute-Main

5.7%

Parsons the New School for Design

5.0%

University of Wisconsin - Stout

4.3%

University of North Texas

4.3%

University of Oregon

4.3%

Colorado State University

4.3%

Otis College of Art and Design

3.6%

Art Center College of Design

3.6%

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

3.6%

University of Cincinnati

3.6%

Wentworth Institute of Technology

3.6%

San Francisco State University

3.6%

North Carolina State University

3.6%

Rochester Institute of Technology

3.6%

Philadelphia University

3.6%

Savannah College of Art and Design

3.6%

Drexel University

3.6%
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Majors

Graphic Design

33.5%

Business

9.2%

Mechanical Engineering

8.8%

Drafting And Design

6.4%

Fine Arts

5.6%

Specialized Sales And Merchandising

5.4%

Electrical Engineering

4.0%

Interior Design

3.0%

Apparel And Textiles

2.8%

Mechanical Engineering Technology

2.6%

Computer Science

2.4%

Psychology

2.4%

Marketing

2.4%

Design And Visual Communication

1.8%

Industrial Technology

1.8%

Management

1.8%

Engineering And Industrial Management

1.8%

Industrial Engineering

1.6%

General Education, Specific Areas

1.6%

Education

1.2%
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Degrees

Bachelors

48.7%

Other

18.1%

Masters

16.2%

Associate

11.1%

Certificate

4.4%

Doctorate

1.0%

Diploma

0.4%
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Updated May 19, 2020