How to become a product designer: Michael's story

Meet Michael, 26, from Ayrshire. He's a product designer who has set up his own business designing golf products. Part of our Bitesize world of work series.

"My love of golf and interest in design just came together."

What is your job?

I run a start-up company. I design and source manufacturing of various golf products and accessories. These are all made in Scotland and it’s my job to develop the designs, have them made, market them and sell them to a global market.

What do you do day-to-day?

I’m constantly developing new designs, because it’s a very competitive market and there’s always a demand for something new. I go over my emails, talk to suppliers and customers and work out what orders I have. I source manufacturers for my products, do the finishing touches, prepare them for packaging and send them to the customers.

Do you use any soft skills in your job?

I use a lot of technical, as well as artistic skills. I need to problem-solve, and communicate well as I deal with multiple suppliers and speak to customers as well. Graphic Design, Art and Design and Maths are the core subjects that help me with the design and engineering skills that I use.

What subjects did you study at school?

At secondary school I did Maths, Graphic Design, Art and Design, English and Physics. Then I did my Highers in the same subjects. At university I studied Product Design Engineering, but I focused more on the manufacturing engineering side. I am doing a PhD as well.

Is this the job you always wanted to do?

I went to university and did Manufacturing Engineering and thought I would work in a company. My university promoted entrepreneurship. I never thought it was something I could do, but I have built my skills. My love of golf and interest in design just came together.

Michael working on a golf putter design at the computer.

Top tips

  • Don’t be afraid to create your own job, because you can do that
  • Think of something you would love to do and just focus on that.

What to expect if you want to be a product designer

Michael uses his skills gained through studying engineering to help him design his golf clubs, but product designers create all kinds of new products and improve existing ones.

  • Product designer salary: £19,000 to £50,000 per year
  • Product designer working hours: 40 to 42 hours per week

What qualifications do you need to be a product designer?

  • Typical entry requirements: You can get into this job through a university course or an apprenticeship. As well as Engineering, useful subjects to consider for a foundation degree, higher national diploma or degree include Product Design or Industrial Product Design. You could also do a course covering a particular industry, which has design options. Examples include Automotive Engineering and Furniture Design. You’ll need one A-level for a foundation degree and two or three A-levels for a degree (or equivalent). Entering design competitions and exhibitions can be a good way of getting yourself noticed by employers.

This information is a guide (source: National Careers Service)

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