Prototype Designer

Create virtual and physical models of new inventions and products.

Quick Stats

Salary Range
$33,000 – $94,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Prototype Designers do?

A Prototype Designer creates the original model for new inventions and products. You are an Engineer and problem-solver who turns an idea into a realized object. Prototype Designers can work on a wide range of objects, including aerospace materials, toys, cars, or someone’s invention of a wine glass that can’t tip over.

A Prototype Designer designs both virtual and physical prototypes. In the first case you will be working in computer modeling, where you create a 3D model that specifies the look and dimensions of a given product. This helps clarify and deepen the understanding of an object by representing all sides and angles, and can be useful in all sorts of fields from medical research to aerospace design. This is very similar to the work of a 3D Modeler.

If you are building physical prototypes, you often start with computer modeling to hammer out the structural details. Once your model is conceptualized you shape plastics, metals, and other materials to create the physical form. Just the sounds of the terms used, such as injection molding, connectors and pins, and vacuum forming, should give you some idea of what your job will entail.

Usually you are designing the first model of something an assembly line will later mass produce. This could be desired for many reasons, from making sure an item functions as it should, to helping pitch the product to investors. But regardless of the purpose, it is your skills in engineering, sculpting, and specialized knowledge (like electrical wiring, perhaps, or aerodynamics) which allow you to bring the idea to life.

Should I be a Prototype Designer?

You should have a bachelor's degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Detail Oriented: You pay close attention to all the little details.
  • Outside the Box Thinker: Your creative brainpower gets a workout as you come up with innovative ideas.
  • Logical Thinker: You take a step-by-step approach to analyze information and solve problems.

  • How to become a Prototype Designer

    Most Prototype Designers have a Bachelor's degree. Chart?chd=s:abwd9d&chl=|no+college+%281%25%29|certificate+%2819%25%29|associate%27s+%2825%25%29|bachelor%27s+%2852%25%29|master%27s+%283%25%29&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,0,52
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