What can I do with a degree in Industrial Product Design?

industrial design sketch on paper, iStock

Product Design combines creative design, science, engineering and business studies. Product designers plan and develop items for use in homes, businesses and industry.

Industrial product design is where function meets form. Based on an engineering or scientific principle, designers produce an attractive product that consumers want and which solves a problem.

Graduates will be able to develop creative ideas based on their knowledge of related sciences and engineering disciplines, as well as gain the practical business skills needed to commercialise new product ideas. This degree will prepare you for a modern career path in many areas of Aotearoa New Zealand’s innovative economy.

Graduates will gain skills in the aesthetic and technical design of products and business skills related to commercialisation of their ideas.

These include:

  • Creativity
  • Technical design understanding
  • Knowledge of aesthetics, ergonomics and function
  • Practical understanding of the product design lifecycle — from idea generation to prototyping and commercialisation
  • Sketching and computer-aided design (CAD)
  • Critical thinking and application of logic to proposed design solutions.

Opportunities to apply your learning are available in this major, through team-based projects, entrepreneurship courses, and the use of dedicated hands-on product innovation spaces.

Industrial product designers may gain work as:

  • An industrial designer in design or engineering consultancies
  • A design specialist within large manufacturing companies eg, furniture, electronics, medical appliances, consumer goods, vehicle design, recreational equipment, packaging, and ergonomics
  • A designer for an architectural practice
  • A start-up business owner
  • An ‘all-rounder’ in smaller companies, which do not tend to employ specialist staff but where a sound knowledge of user-centred design can be combined with technical knowledge and business skills.

Industrial Product Design graduates will have a broad range of skills that can be applied in a variety of roles. The degree may lead to a career as a consultant in industrial design or more broadly into any industry that employs graduates with a technical background.

Note: Some of the jobs listed may require postgraduate study. See the ‘Further study’ section.


Product designer / industrial designer

  • Researches a client’s brief, an organisational or social need, or a gap in the market
  • Prepares drawings, models and proposals for new products or product improvements
  • Designs and produces a prototype
  • Tests the prototype and investigates patents

Product manager

  • Manages a specific product or line of products that are already in the market
  • Coordinates the production of a finished prototype
  • Oversees operations and logistics
  • Handles product enquiries, complaints and orders

Marketing or sales manager

  • Conducts market research into product usage and audience preferences
  • Analyses performance of existing products or identifies new requirements
  • Communicates intelligence to designers and managers to inform product changes
  • Markets the products, develops new business opportunities and increases sales

Product design manager / senior designer

  • Manages technical design staff
  • Leads the product design function
  • Leads business initiatives on new products
  • Manages budgets, staff and processes

Entrepreneur and CEO

  • Develops an idea, product or service to form their own business
  • Gets involved in a start-up
  • Offers their skills or services as a freelancer or consultant

Get started with Entrepreneurship here.

As they progress, students and graduates often join professional bodies or organisations relevant to their area of interest. These organisations can provide regular communications and offer the chance to network with others in the community.

Social media networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter can provide avenues to keep up-to- date with industry knowledge, networking opportunities, events and job vacancies.

For more information

see the Industrial Product Design subject page