Design Engineer Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: August 22, 2022

A Design Engineer, or Product Engineer, is responsible for turning ideas for products into functional prototypes using efficient and affordable processes. Their duties include preparing design briefs that serve a particular purpose, researching possible production methods and use engineering software to refine and develop their product.

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Design Engineer duties and responsibilities

A Design Engineer collaborates with other staff on the product design, research and development, marketing and manufacturing teams to create highly functional products or services that are profitable and meet user needs. Their duties include:

  • Assessing a design brief to gauge the design requirements
  • Conducting and/or using research on user experience and needs, current market trends and general functionality 
  • Developing solutions that solve user problems
  • Determining whether a design solution is user-friendly, cost-effective and environmentally friendly
  • Creating multiple iterations of design prototypes using computer-aided design tools
  • Conducting rigorous usability tests and modifying the product based on the test results
  • Evaluating design solutions against industry standards and regulations
  • Documenting the design process and presenting progress reports to all relevant stakeholders
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What does a Design Engineer do?

Design Engineers often work in the manufacturing field or as part of a consulting firm to provide companies with a model for producing various tools and consumer goods. They consider all aspects of a product’s use including visual appeal, safety, accessibility and affordability. They collect feedback on user responses to prototypes and use it to make adjustments and improve the product’s overall appeal. Design Engineers use scientific processes and mathematical concepts to create their own innovative solutions to common problems. Their role is to collaborate with other Engineers and Designers to finalize the specifications of a product.

Design Engineer skills and qualifications

Design Engineers should understand the principles of design and how it relates to engineering a functional product in addition to the following hard and soft skills: 

  • Advanced design skills
  • Product-focused creative thinking
  • In-depth knowledge of industry design principles
  • Strong working knowledge of computer-aided design (CAD) or engineering software
  • Impeccable attention to detail
  • Excellent problem-solving skills
  • Good project management skills
  • Excellent time management and prioritization skills
  • Effective oral and written communication
  • Great leadership skills

Design Engineer salary expectations

A Design Engineer earns $82,292 per year. Salary may depend on a candidate’s level of education, experience and geographical location.

Design Engineer education and training requirements

Design Engineer candidates should have at least a bachelor’s degree in design engineering, manufacturing engineering, product design engineering technology or other related fields. Some candidates may have a master’s degree in design engineering or another similar specialized field, which could indicate more advanced design knowledge and practical application of design principles. A candidate without a degree may have completed an apprenticeship or vocational training in product or manufacturing design engineering. Some candidates may also have one or multiple certificates in specific design engineer principles, technology or leadership.

Design Engineer experience requirements

Entry-level Design Engineer candidates likey have experience from internships or other practical learning opportunities completed during their undergraduate studies. Some may even have a few years of relevant experience in design engineering, product engineering or other relevant roles. A Design Engineer’s experience typically indicates a knowledge of interpreting design briefs and providing multiple iterations of a prototype based on the outlined requirements and a proven record of navigating complex projects. Candidates may also have experience using certain CAD software and other relevant technology as well.

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Frequently asked questions about Design Engineers


What are the qualities of a good Design Engineer?

Successful Design Engineers have a progress-based mindset and are not afraid to take risks and try new strategies. Because Design Engineers can go through multiple rounds of testing on each product they create, they need to be able to take criticism and feel motivated by feedback instead of discouraged. They should be able to balance design and function when planning out a new product, considering both the aesthetic and functional needs of their target consumer. Good Design Engineers are active communicators who ask creative questions and can expertly explain their product plan to manufacturers.


Do Design Engineers have different duties in different industries?

Design Engineers can work in a variety of fields including civil engineering, mechanics, electrical work, textiles, biochemicals and pharmaceuticals, nuclear development and architecture. While all types of Design Engineers go through the process of product development, they have different areas of expertise depending on the materials they work with and the purpose of the products they create. Design Engineers producing medical equipment require different work processes and industry knowledge than Design Engineers who make household goods. They also collaborate with Consultants and Engineers in different fields to improve and maintain the quality of their work.


What are the daily duties of a Design Engineer?

Throughout the course of a typical project, Design Engineers can spend time in an office drafting designs, work in a laboratory and visit manufacturing plants to test prototypes. For each project they prepare reports explaining possible design concepts and research how much it would cost to make each idea feasible. They create blueprints and software models to indicate how manufacturers should produce various prototypes. Design Engineers manage focus groups testing the user interface of their design and edit their original schematics to provide a better solution to customer needs.


What should you look for on a Design Engineer resume?

Design Engineers should feature a demonstrated knowledge of engineering and physics principals on their resume. Strong candidates may include a portfolio of product designs that they created or explain their role on other engineering teams. When describing previous experiences, candidates should identify the problem they solved with their designs and what tools they used to accomplish their goal. A competitive resume for a Design Engineer may have engineering certifications in a particular field that demonstrate their understanding of technical processes.

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