what is a design engineer?

As a design engineer, you develop products and manufacturing processes to improve the productivity and profitability of the company. You use computer-aided software (CAD) and AUTOCAD to create designs for new products. The computer software helps convert ideas into models, plans and prototypes. Creating prototypes with improved design features allows you to test the viability of the product design. As well as developing new product designs, you find solutions for improving existing products to suit customers' evolving needs.

Design engineers study, research and develop ideas. When you work in research and development, your job is to analyse market data and analytics to find opportunities for product design improvements. You collaborate with various teams to come up with the best designs. As a design engineer, you design every consumer product and industrial equipment imaginable. For instance, you develop designs for large-scale production of toys, office equipment, kitchen appliance, electronics and sports equipment.

As a design engineer, you are concerned with making a safe product that also looks good. You use the design specification to develop cost-effective product designs and evaluate the manufacturing process to ensure efficiency. A design engineer requires strong maths and IT skills to develop the best designs.

Would working as a design engineer suit your creativity and innovation skills? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in a design engineer role.

design engineer jobs

average salary of a design engineer

According to National Careers Service, the salary range of design engineers is £24,000 to £50,000 per year. The entry-level compensation package of a design engineer is £20,000 to £25,000 yearly. Some locations have higher salaries for graduate trainees. For instance, London has a starting salary of £27,000 annually. When you are an experienced or an incorporated engineer, you earn between £30,000 and £40,000 per year. Chartered design engineers take home up to £50,000 yearly.

what factors affect the pay of a design engineer?

Design engineering is a technical role that requires extensive educational qualifications and experience. When you have minimal entry-level academic qualifications, you are likely to earn less compared to an engineer with chartered status. The additional certifications improve your compensation package. Your experience also affects your salary. With less experience, your earnings are far less than a design engineer with extensive experience.

The industry you work in affects your salary prospects. A design engineer working in the aerospace industry requires additional expertise. Therefore, the salary is higher compared to a design engineer working on consumer goods

design engineer discussion
design engineer discussion

types of design engineers

Some of the areas of specialisation for design engineers include:

  • electrical design engineering: as a design engineer, you can specialise in designing electronic devices. You develop the product designs for medical devices, biomedical instrumentation and power grids. You also create prototypes for electronic appliances.
  • visual design engineering: as a design engineer, you can specialise in contributing to product design's artistic form and visual appeal. You focus on the product's aesthetics to ensure the consumer goods are attractive and straightforward to use. You also work on the efficiency and functionality of the designs.

working as a design engineer

A design engineer specialises in the science of how things are made. You are involved with the product design from inception to developing the blueprints. Let's explore the duties, career outlook and work environments of design engineers.


education and skills

Explore the following routes for becoming a design engineer:

  • university degree: pursue an undergraduate degree, foundation degree or a higher national diploma to become a design engineer. Industrial design, product design, computer-aided design, engineering design, and manufacturing are all relevant subjects to study. Completing a mechanical, civil and electrical engineering course can also land you a role as a design engineer.
  • apprenticeship: if you don't qualify for a foundation or an undergraduate degree, find an apprenticeship programme. Take a design and development engineering degree apprenticeship. The programme lasts four years, and you will learn as you work.

work experience: you cannot work as a design engineer without experience. During your degree course, find work placement opportunities to gain industrial experience. Join an internship or a graduate trainee programme to improve your experience. Entry-level positions in product design help you improve your expertise in the role.

skills and competencies

Some of the skills that improve your job success include:

  • technical skills: as a design engineer, you work with complex computer-aided software to create prototypes and draft product designs. Understanding the tools helps you come up with the best product designs. Hence, you require exceptional technical skills.
  • mathematical skills: as a design engineer, you draw designs and determine the product specifications. You also estimate the raw materials required to create a product. You rely on mathematical skills to develop blueprints showing product specifications and calculating the necessary raw materials.
  • creativity: while design engineering is a science and technology field, you rely on creativity to develop product designs and find ideas to improve current products. Creativity helps you try new ideas and find ways to enhance product designs.
  • analytical thinking skills: as a design engineer, you require critical thinking and observational skills. Analytical skills help you diagnose problems and identify issues with product prototypes before production begins. Your analytical thinking also enables you to develop processes for manufacturing new products.
  • teamworking skills: as a design engineer, you collaborate with other engineers and designers to improve product designs. Teamworking skills help you get along with others and contribute to a positive work environment.
  • communication skills: since you collaborate with various professionals to complete a product design, communication skills are vital. It is crucial to communicate your ideas clearly and understand other people's ideas.
working design engingeers
working design engingeers


FAQs about working as a design engineer

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