Product Designer Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

A Product Designer, or Retail Product Designer, develops and designs a wide variety of consumer products. Their main duties include building designs for new products, adding improvements to existing products and conducting market research for new product design ideas.

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Product Designer Duties and Responsibilities

A Product Designer has many responsibilities. These might include: 

  • Developing product design concepts from client requirements
  • Confirming product design specifications with clients
  • Preparing design specifications through sketches
  • Budgeting for product designs with clients
  • Setting schedules for project completion with clients and adhering to budgets and schedules
  • Troubleshooting any design problems that may arise during the design process needed

What Does a Product Designer Do?

Product Designers work alongside a company’s industrial team to design and add improvements to basic consumer products, like chairs, beds or tables. Some Product Designers may also create more complex products like electronic or medical tools and equipment. To come up with ideas for potential products to design, they’ll conduct market research to identify the preferences of their target customer base and will create rough sketches according to the research details. 

Product Designers will also build and outline specifications for products for stakeholders and design team members to review. They’ll collaborate closely with the design team to come up with unique product designs and will provide feedback on ways to make the product more convenient and visually appealing to customers.

Product Designer Skills and Qualifications

The skills you need for a Product Designer depend on whether you need physical design or design done with computers. However, most Product Designer jobs require: 

  • The ability to use a computer and computer software including CAD software
  • Spatial and visual awareness
  • Knowledge of engineering science and technology if you are working as a product designer for a computer company
  • Knowledge of the industrial processes and standards, as well as emerging new technology for the industry where you work
  • Commercial awareness of the market for your product and how to place your product as marketable against your competitors

Product Designer Salary Expectations

A Product Designer annual salary is $94,410 per year.  The salary information comes from 24,391 data points collected from employees, users and job advertisements on Indeed in the past 36 months.

Product Designer Education and Training Requirements

The minimum education for Product Designers is a bachelor’s degree, with a focus on product design skills. Common majors for Product Designers include specialties such as industrial design, engineering or architecture. Usually,  students are required to take one year of basic art as well as design courses focusing on design principles such as sketching. They may also take classes in CAD, engineering and 3-D design, industrial materials and processes and production methods. It is important for students to create a portfolio of their work that exhibits the skills they learned during their studies.  

Product Designer Experience Requirements

It is helpful if a Product Designer has several years of experience with computer-aided (CAD) tools. Creativity with 3D modeling software as well as experience with design programs such as Illustrator and Sketch will give Product Designer candidates the experience they may need in the workplace.

Job Description Samples for Similar Positions

If a Product Designer isn’t quite what you’re looking for, there are other career pathways for those who are product designers. Some other career paths are:

Frequently asked questions about Product Designers

 

Who does a Product Designer report to?

The person a Product Designer reports to typically depends on the size and type of organization they work for. Many of them will work on a team of Product Designers who will all report to a Product Designer Supervisor or Senior Product Designer. This individual will typically assign specific designs projects to the Product Designer and will evaluate and grant approval of their final product designs. 

If Product Designers are having challenges designing complex products, they’ll request advice and guidance from the Senior Product Designer as well.

 

What are the different types of Product Designers?

Product Designers can pursue many different fields where they’ll specialize in creating specific types of products. Many of them will create basic products like furniture or household appliances. Transportation Product Designers will design cars, trains, planes and automobile parts to create visually appealing, yet practical modes of transportation for consumers. 

Fashion Product Designers specialize in clothing and shoe designs that are both fashionable and durable. Electronic Product Designers may work more closely with software programs to make them more enjoyable and efficient for the end user. There are also Medical Product Designers who build medical supplies and equipment to improve the productivity and efficiency levels of different healthcare facilities. 

 

What's the difference between a Product Designer and a UX Designer?

While they both share similarities in their job responsibilities, Product Designers and UX Designers also hold some clear differences. Product Designers typically work primarily on more physical and industrial designs, building and adding improvements to products like automobiles, furniture or appliances for consumer usage. 

A UX Designer is sometimes considered a type of Product Designer that creates software programs that satisfies and meets the needs of end users. They work with more technical products and focus closely on user interaction when testing and updating their software systems.

 

What makes a good Product Designer?

A great Product Designer should be creative and innovative to come up with unique and practical designs that will attract consumers. They should also have a strong familiarity with visually appealing color schemes and design details. Effective research skills are also preferred in ideal candidates to successfully research their target market and identify common customer trends.

It’s also impressive for Product Designers to have great communication skills to interact with other employees on the design and engineering teams to effectively explain certain product specifications. 

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