Product Developer: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Sep 14, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a product developer. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about the degree programs, job duties and certifications to see if this is the right career for you.

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Product developers generally have a degree in engineering and/or industrial design. They must work with a range of professionals when developing commercial or industrial products, and it is their duty to ensure that these products are both safe and functional. It is recommended that product developers hold certification in AutoCAD, although this is not a requirement.

Essential Information

Product developers assist in the development of a commercial or industrial products. Depending on their specific job duties, product developers go by many titles, such as: product design engineer, product development engineer and commercial and/or industrial designer. This career requires a minimum of a bachelor's degree in engineering, design or a related field.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in engineering, design or related field
Recommended Certification AutoCAD certification
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 2% (commercial and industrial designers)
Median Wage (2018)* $66,590 annually, $32.01 hourly (commercial and industrial designers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description

While product development spans across many different fields and entails many different disciplines and skills, product developers typically have a background in design, engineering, or both. These professionals may work with marketers, accountants, scientists, executives, and other professionals to ensure the safety, functionality, and style of the goods that are produced. They may be employed by product manufacturers, consulting companies, and research organizations.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), this career field is expected to see a slower than average growth of 3% over the 2018-2028 decade. The BLS also reports the median wage of commercial and industrial designers is $66,590 annually, or $32.01 hourly, as of May 2018.

Duties

Product developers communicate with each client to gain a vision of what the client wants. They may then research the market in which the product will be sold to find product trends and try to gain a competitive edge on other designs. Next, product developers may consult with engineers to create rough specifications. This may include using computer-aided design (CAD) programs to create prototypes and translate sketches into working spec sheets. Lastly, product developers may work with marketing professionals to ensure a successful launch of the product.

Requirements

Aspiring product developers are usually required to hold at least a bachelor's degree in industrial design, engineering, or a related field. Coursework in these programs may explore different production materials and provide instruction on design techniques. Students may also be required to engage in design workshops and studios in which they develop their own models and specifications for prototypes.

Advanced Degrees

Product developers desiring more advanced knowledge may consider enrolling a master's degree program in product design and development. Applicants for these programs may need to have previous work experience in product development, design, or a related field. Courses may concentrate in areas such as materials, marketing, manufacturing, and communication.

Certification

In order to demonstrate their proficiency in the production process or design software, product developers may choose to earn credentials, such as the AutoCAD certification. Job seekers who are certified in AutoCAD design software may improve their employment and advancement options (usa.autodesk.com). To earn the designation, applicants must pass the AutoCAD Associate exam, which may test a range of tasks and concepts, including:

  • Dimensions
  • Object alteration
  • Drawing basics
  • Graphing
  • Hatching

In addition to a solid understanding of production processes and design software, product developers need to have strong communication skills, as working closely with clients and other professionals is a key aspect of this profession. They should also know how to create prototypes and spec sheets, and having basic drawing skills can be helpful when sketching out designs in their early stages.

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