What does a Product Design Engineer do?


Product Design engineers research and develop products that we use in our day-to-day. They also work on improving the performance of already existing products. But, what do you need to become a design engineer?

Who are Product Design Engineers?

Product Design Engineer

Product Design is everywhere. Everything you buy or use in your day to day life was once merely a thought in a product designer’s head.

The job title “Product Designer” has evolved over the last years. With the rise of interactive products and SaaS, the term is also used for designers in charge of creating or improving digital products as well. They make sure that the user can use the product or service.

In this article, we’ll focus on the old definition of a Product Designer that of the Industrial Designer or Product Design Engineer.

Product designers work to design and develop physical products that customers are looking to purchase.

They research new and interesting ideas and processes for new or existing products. They may also improve product design for increased performance and functionality.

Artistic individuals with a passion for solving problems with creative solutions often thrive in this profession. Product Designers generally work as part of a larger design and manufacturing team, and the position involves frequent internal and external collaboration in all stages of design.

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Responsibilities for Product Design Engineers

Product Design Engineer

Product Design – from conception to production – involves several tasks and duties. After careful analysis of a wide range of product design engineer job descriptions, we’ve put together the following list of daily responsibilities for industrial product designers:

1. Analyzing product design requirements

Before starting on a new product design, Product Design Engineers need to determine what the project requirements are. This involves performing extensive research on the target audience, usage of product, functionality, and more.

2. Generating ideas and developing prototypes

Product Designers start the process by sketching out designs, concepts, and visual themes. These sketches are then converted into working models using tools such as CAD. These rendered models are sent in for consideration before approval for prototypes

3. Determining manufacturing requirements and processes

When a prototype has been approved, product design engineers are then responsible to decide on the right materials and manufacturing requirements to produce the designed product.

This includes dealing with vendors, developing manufacturing processes, creating supply chains, interacting with operations teams, and more. Product Design Engineers also determine production costs and figure out ways to bring down the overall cost of designing their product.

4. Evaluate the final product and implementing feedback

Product Design Engineers evaluate the newly created product in terms of functionality, visual appeal, safety, and durability. Tests are conducted and changes are made based on results. Final feedback from clients is also taken into consideration at this stage.

What skills do a Product Design Engineer need?

Product Design Engineers

Product Design Engineers need to be resourceful and innovative at their jobs. The ideal Design Engineer is quick at identifying problems and solving them and has great decision-making skills.

Design engineers also need to be creative and be diligent when it comes to minute details. Product design is often a very collaborative role and as such, design engineers need to be team players, have great communication skills and know-how to lead a group of people to create cost-effective products in a given time frame.

Therefore, the required skills for a Product Design Engineer include the following:

  • Knowledge of mechanical design
  • Experience in manufacturing processes
  • Know-how of blueprint documents
  • Proficient in software applications such as AutoCAD or Adobe Acrobat
  • Experience with Solidworks
  • Familiarity with 3D Modeling Software
  • Good sketching and concept generation skills
  • MRP/ERP/QAD experience
  • Ability to understand complex mathematical relationships in relation to the mechanics of a product
  • Good knowledge of production materials and their behavior
  • Experience with specialized material fabrication processes
  • Ability to use lean tools to help develop new processes, layouts, and flow

Background and Education

In general, Product Design Engineers are required to have a Bachelor’s degree in product design, manufacturing engineering, mechanical engineering, or product design engineering technology.

Most employers require that job candidates be familiar with the type of product that they wish to work with. For example, those applying to information technology companies should be familiar with computers, while those applying to automotive manufacturers should be familiar with cars and the automotive industry in general.

Product design engineers work for organizations to create and build new products, so they need to understand the company’s mission, customer needs, and production costs.

Product Design Engineer Salary

While individual salaries can vary depending on the size and location of the company, service delivery managers generally start their careers with an annual salary of just under $53,000. Senior managers can earn up to $113,000. On average, they earn around $70,000 a year.

How much do Product Design Engineers make?

Junior $53,000
Average $70,000
Senior $113,000

How much do Freelance Product Designers charge?

Product Design Engineers on freelancermap charge on average:


Rates in this field range between $33 and $106/hour for most freelancers.

The daily rate for Product Design Engineers (8 working hours) would be around:


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Natalia Campana

Natalia is part of the international team at freelancermap. She loves the digital world, social media and meeting different cultures. Before she moved to Germany and joined the freelancermap team she worked in the US, UK and her home country Spain. Now she focuses on helping freelancers and IT professionals to find jobs and clients worldwide at www.freelancermap.com

By Natalia Campana

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