Product designers are employed by any organization (such as an automotive manufacturer, software company, or retailer) that wants to create or improve a product. Some designers work as freelancers, providing contract services to companies, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies.
Some people enter this profession after working in the related field of user experience design. Others have backgrounds in industrial design or engineering. Companies will hire recent college graduates for entry-level product design positions. It’s a good idea to develop a portfolio of your college or professional or design work to demonstrate your talent and experience in the field.
Job leads can be obtained by using the resources of college career services offices (which are typically available to current students and alumni), attending career fairs and other networking events, using the resources of recruiting firms (for higher-level positions), and contacting employers directly regarding employment opportunities. Additionally, many college students land their first jobs in the field after making contacts during internship, cooperative education, and other experiential learning opportunities.
With experience, an entry-level product designer can advance to the position of senior product designer and then to the role of principal product designer—although these roles are not available at every company. Those with business expertise may advance to executive-level positions such as chief technology officer, CEO, or chief operating officer. Some designers start their own consulting firms.
Tips for Entry
Attend the Product Development and Management Association’s Innovators Conference (https://www.pdma.org/page/conference-central) to network and participate in continuing education opportunities.
Read the Journal of Product Innovation Management (https://www.pdma.org/page/JPIM) to learn more about the field.
Visit https://www.idsa.org/opportunities/job-board and https://ixda.org/jobs for job listings.
Become certified. It will give you the edge over other applicants.