Becoming a Productdesigner

How to become an Industrial Designer?

Here is an overview of the ways to become a Productdesigner/Industrialdesigner in germany

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The Ways to industrialdesign



Those who decide to become a productdesigner or industrialdesigner have various options.

You can do an apperenticeship to become a technical product designer (formerly a technical draftsman) and go through a classic three-year professional training in a company. That means vocational school and cooperation in the company up to the journeyman’s letter. And there is plenty of detailed information on this route online.


Because every company is different, the training to become a technical product designer will not be exactly the same in detail. Additionaly, the official guidelines provide for two disciplines: Product design and construction or alternatively machine and plant construction.

Back in the days, the training as a technical draftsman was more concerned with deriving technical drawings and manufacturing drawings. Since this procedure is rather outdated, the vocational training has been modernized and is now called technical product design.


The content is now more fitted for a career in CAD design. Whoever chooses this variant will probably be very well trained in the end. Well, I cannot judge how good the training looks in terms of creative methodology, self-administration and other aspects of later professional life.

Before I started studying I did a technical apprenticeship myself and would alway recomend that. It is generally recommended, as people still have some time to “mature”. My apperenticeship was to become a paper technologist (formerly paper maker) and I was very grounded afterwards. A lot of young students are a little out of the world, I have the feeling.

What is he talking about?

What an industrialdesigner or productdesigner is doing is explained here.

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Whats next?

State Certified technician

Further Training opportunities

If you want to continue after finishing the apperenticeship to become a product designer, you can go to a technical school. These are specialized technical schools that train you to become a state-certified technician. To do this, you have to be able to prove that you have worked for one year in addition to the training. Alternatively, seven years of professional experience are sufficient as an admission qualification.

But what do technicians actually do?

In addition to further specialising in the technical disciplines such as mathematics, electronics, construction etc., it also adds a lot of project management. Furthermore, content from vocational and work pedagogy is conveyed, so that one can become an instructor for new technical product designers. Maybe educating others suits you?

But founding and running a company can also be documented as compulsory elective content. Therefore you are well equipped, if you should decide to work as a freelance designer (like me) or even found your own agency, for example. In addition, you can acquire the technical college entrance qualification by taking an additional examination. This allows you to enroll and study in corresponding technical courses such as mechanical engineering at universities of applied sciences.

Everyday work

In fact, it is simply the case that you get more responsibility in traditional companies. As already mentioned in the areas of training. However, other personnel responsibilities are also possible, for example as group leaders or later as department heads. Whoever continues to climb the career ladder must be aware that the more responsibility one gets, the less creative work there is. This is also one of the reasons why I prefer to work as a freelance product designer / industrial designer: You have full control over the internal processes (which are fairly lean since you are a “lone fighter”) and you can focus more on the actual design process.

With further training as a technician, you leave the creative areas and shift the focus more to the technical aspects in product development.

Why do we need productdesigner?

Why its a good idea to hire someone like me, is explained here.

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What else?

Productdesign in University

Product design as a degree

Industrial design or product design can be studied at technical colleges and universities. My personal recommendation is definitely the University of applied sciences. Because as a product designer you are creative in your professional life, that is, crafts if you like.

How to get there

Universities of applied sciences are much more practical than universities. If you have a university entrance qualification, whether Abitur, Fachabitur or by the technician, you can enroll for the study of product design or industrial design. I myself worked a year after completing my apprenticeship and only then decided to study.

Reasons why

For me, it was the case that I always liked to draw. In my school days there was still the orientation level – these are the fifth and sixth grades after primary school. At that time I was very unmotivated for school and had only modest grades accordingly. With a recommendation for the secondary school, I still attended the Realschule and got an average degree. At school I always drew a lot during class – my best friend back then was also an artist.

Don’t waste your time

The work in the paper mill gave me very cheap access to tons of paper. I was fine with all the paper scraps, it didn’t have to be a perfect A4 sheet. And there are plenty of them in the paper mill. The night shifts after the apprenticeship were never very exciting, so I started to ponder whether all of this should continue for the next 40 years. I also drew a lot at work. (Sorry: D)

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Engineering & Design

Productdevelopment and -Design

Bachelor and master

So I decided to study. I was already interested in the big machines and I wanted to work creatively. During my apprenticeship, I always had a lot of ideas on how to optimize the manufacturing process, but of course wasnt taken too seriously.

Decide where to go

During my research, I became aware of the mechanical engineering & design course at Emden University (yes, I am also working there now). The degree was a Bachelor of Engineering. I also didn’t really want to leave home at the time, so I didn’t hesitate for long. Thanks to an additional qualification during my apprenticeship, I even got my technical college entrance qualification and didn’t even have to catch up on my degree. In contrast to a pure design bachelor, the course is very engineering-intensive. But that is by no means a disadvantage – on the contrary. The basic course teaches all the basics that you need as a mechanical engineer. Design training only starts in the specialization of product development.


The topics dealt with were creative methods for finding ideas, tools for selecting ideas, and of course development methods according to VDI 2221. In principle, the whole design process. CAS is also a classic design apprenticeship, especially in Emden. This stands for Computer Aided Styling and is particularly well represented in automotive design. The free-form surfaces of the body are developed and modeled with CAS software by the industrial designers. The methods learned are applied and consolidated in project work, i.e. small design projects. In a practical semester you can get a taste of the job and most of the graduates stay in the companies in which the thesis was written. As a designer with in-depth knowledge of manufacturing technology, you don’t have a bad start in the industry.

Personal Interests

Since I was more interested in the field of industrial design and product design, I wanted to do a master’s degree in it. I then became aware of the engineering design course at Magdeburg University of Applied Sciences and enrolled there. It is envisaged that students with relevant design training will take up more engineering subjects and vice versa. Because of my mechanical engineering background, I was able to prove the design focal points. These included, for example, display technology and design basics. Here, too, a lot of independent work was required as part of projects, which requires good self-management.

I actually wrote the master thesis in the same company as the bachelor thesis. I also stayed with the company for a few more years to take on a wide range of tasks in advance development in the automotive industry. For example, designing some nice headlamps and rearlamps for different OEMs

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Where to work?

Research and Development

Professional life

As a product designer or industrial designer in industry, you are treated as an engineer, so you also get the same salary. You work out different designs and then present them. Internal competitions are carried out, so to speak, in which the project or department manager takes on the role of the customer. Quite similar to modern Scrum processes as a product owner. When the decision for a design direction has been made, the details are worked out in a cascading system. This means that we work together with engineering and marketing. You turn loops and iteratively develop the finished product.

From the idea to the series

There is usually a second project phase in which the design is then adapted from the manufacturing methodology for the prototype to small series and then for regular series production.

During this time, the design continues to improve. At some point you have to make a cut because the product is to be launched, otherwise you would always optimize further. As a freelance product designer, the process looks much more dynamic. Depending on the project, sooner or later you get into the product development process and then accompany.


The job of a product designer is very varied and exciting, not only because there are almost unlimited types of capital goods or consumer goods. But also because a lot of different people work in the companies and over time you always learn new things and get to know different perspectives.