Have you ever wondered how your kettle works so efficiently or why your TV is now flat? Or perhaps you look at your vacuum cleaner and think, “I could do a better job.”  Quite possibly, if you’re keen on design and engineering. Hours and hours of research and development go into making a million and one different products and it’s often thanks to design engineers that they’re successful.

Design engineers not only carry out the research that allows many everyday objects to come into existence but they work on refining and improving things we already have.

Day to day role

There’s never a dull day as a design engineer and you could be working on cutting edge products. Some things might be more fun and frivolous while other innovations will make a real difference to people’s lives.

You’ll work right at the very heart of these products and systems, researching ideas and using mathematical modelling. You’ll use Computer Aided Design (CAD) as well as testing and modifying your designs. 

You may have to write reports for senior management.

Qualifications and experience needed

You’ll need at least an HND or foundation degree in a related subject such as engineering design, industrial design, manufacture or materials design. A solid knowledge of CAD is vital in this role regardless of the industry you work in.

Some companies will take you on without degree level qualifications and you might find applying for an apprenticeship – where you learn on the job – suits you better.

Fact: You’ll start on around £20,000 but with experience you can earn more than £55,000 a year


A love of tinkering with stuff is always a good place to start but you also need to have sound engineering skills and an understanding of the materials in use. CAD skills are vital. Environmental design skills are also important as are business skills – remember, as well as designing something, you will have to keep in mind cost efficiency and practicality too.


If you’re the sort of person who likes nothing more than taking something to bits to see what makes it tick, a career as a design engineer is worth looking at. You need to be methodical in your approach and inquisitive. But you also need to be creative. After all – you’ll be designing the products of the future.


There are many different industries you could work in – everything from mobile phone manufacture and the making of car parts to creating a new biomechanical arm.

You could work towards a management role, gaining chartered engineer status or becoming recognised in your industry. Who knows, you could even strike out on your own and be the next James Dyson or Steve Jobs…

Fact: Did you know engineers are responsible for the snowboard, water flumes and interactive TV