Non school ID Education! How do I become a product designer?

I start with the question and take the background afterwards :slight_smile:

Is there any videos/DVDs about ID and Product design that shows the fundamentals, how to approach a project, maybe walkthroughs, what to think of and so on, Ive searched but couldnt find anything?

Im new to ID and Product design but have never in my life found something that feels so right. It really brings together all my favorite areas from artistic creativity to technical engineering and business processes, marketing and value creation. It would be my dream to work in this field and even if I may have much to learn I really wanna go for it 100%.
I already have a degree in business/economics and Im really eager to start working so 4 more years of studies isnt really an option.
Im reading as much as I can about design but find it very time consuming and want more hands on instructions, tips and techniques so thats why I ask about video material.

Also what kind of knowledge etc is necessary before I even start thinking of applying for an ID job?

Any help is most appreciated
Thx for listening!

I think you’ll find it’s going to be very difficult to accomplish what you want without some kind of formal education. Design is a large collection of skills both tangible (sketching, graphic design, CAD modelling, physical modelling/prototyping), and knowledge based (problem solving, manufacturing processes, materials, technology, user research and testing).

If you want to go for it 100%, I’d suggest considering a masters degree. There are lots of resources out there on individual subjects, but very few that really walk through the complete process. The one video that comes to mind was called “The Deep Dive” and was an ABC news special showing a good portion of the design process: ABCNEWS Store

If you really want “hands on” I think the only way you’ll get it is through some kind of degree program. I think even with a great portfolio of sketches and product designs it would be very hard to get any connections of job interviews without a diploma in ID or a related field. Heck, it’s hard enough for most ID graduates to even find jobs!

agreed. its a competitive field, and even those with good ID educations and portfolios still fight it out for the jobs.

while you can for sure get a good overview from books and dvds, the in school process not only teaches you important skills and background info, but also teamwork and studio environment working through projects and courses.

i’d suggest to have a look through some books, speak to some people who have gone through an ID program, and if you are still interested go for a BID or MID at a place that suits your desired focus and needs.

not to mention, that without a portfolio of some sort (perhaps the most useful thing you’ll get out of school), applying for an ID job will be a non-starter.


bite the bullet and go to school, you can self teach many of the aspects but you would be missing one big thing and that is the networking that comes from collage, and kid thats gold down the path. That networking helps you find and slide into jobs, there is a lold saying, the lone wolf starves, he might be the baddest assed critter on the block but in the end he will starve.

I appreciate your enthusiasm, and I don’t want to rain on your parade, but try flipping the circumstances: you are a marketing director for a large corporation, I am someone with no educational training and no experience in your field but I want you to hire me, trusting me with millions of dollars worth of business… why would you hire me?

It is a competitive world. I would suggest you build a portfolio and also sift through the coroflot portfolios of working designers to see where you are. I’m not saying that it can’t be done, but in the time it takes you to get a job, you might have been able to go to school, get better training/internships, and have a network of peers, and alumni. At this point, with so many ID schools turning out great designers, their is no need to hire someone without an education in the field, or even some experience.

Would you want a surgeon with an undergraduate degree in engineering? I’m sure he could build a great bridge, but do you want him to operate on you without the proper training?

I dunno if i’d equate design with surgery, but indeed experience and the school process are more than the sum of learning from a book and exercises.


First of all thx for all your answers :slight_smile: I appreciate all the input I can get.

Thats a real good point and Ive thought about itaswell, there is actually a big difference between the business field and the field of design cause you need talent, creativity and lots of hard work in contrary to the business field where its all about bragging about your degrees and 20 years of experience (even though you only have 2 years real experience) I know I sound harsh but there is really a lot of false and lying people in that field.
A marketing director really have no way of measuring your talent and have to trust your diplomas and degrees. But in the world of design its about what you do not what you say you do. Ive been freelancing in 3d and webdesign and the mentality there is completeley different, its all about what you produce not what schools you have gone through so thats were my hopes come from.
I know that its so much more to ID than what meets the eye and that you cant compare it with graphic design but its still possible to get some sort of opinion of a person by judging his/her portfpolio.

So thats why I am so optimistic, I understand that you wont get anything for free and that you gain extremely by going to school but should it really be impossible? I tend to see the opportunities not the problems.
There is a lot of people in various industries coming from nowhere and getting far simply by being passionate, work hard and having the talent.
If I can create a strong portfolio and show knowledge and creativity that is up to par with talented and educated ID’s I feel there is at least a little chance of getting somewhere, I understand the odds is low and thats its hard like a rock to get a job so dont get me wrong I dont expect it to be easy.

Will of course upload my work on Coroflot as it gets completed
(just finished my latest project a custom made sports bag for surfers and snowboarders and Im eager to get your opinions in the forums later on
need the rights to publish the pictures first since they are part of a competition entry)

Thx for listening/AquaStealth

Hi there!
I agree with the other guys. I think that it would be very hard to be a complete industrial designer without a degree, you know, sometimes ID is a very misterious profession.
Anyway, I think you should start reading some Donald Norman books.
Try reading “Emotional Design” and “Design of every day things”.
I think this books may open your mind for some very important aspects of Industrial Design.
Raf. :open_mouth:

You’re right, but the big problem is there is still a lot of very important background knowledge in ID that comes from schooling. A great portfolio might be enough to land you that interview, but sealing the deal without having the degree would be very hard. Like was said, theres lots of good ID graduates out there already who are having a very tough time getting a job. College isn’t just about learning, it’s hugely about networking and making contacts.

From a personal example the job I just got: Was recommended to me by a professor, that professor got my foot in the door. When I was there there were 3 different employees (out of their team of ~20) that I had already met or known about. One was a portfolio reviewer I had sat down with years ago, one was a merit award presenter from an IDSA conference, and another actually graduated with the person who got me into design. If it weren’t for those connections I never even would have had an interview, let alone a job. And personally I view myself as an average designer…whereas I know there are many exceptional designers out there still job hunting because they haven’t been able to make those connections work for them.

Like was also said, design is rarely a 1 man sport. You’ll be working in teams most of the time and learning to work collaboratively is one of the most important things you’ll gain from school. And believe me, it tends to be much harder than it sounds. :laughing: