What can you do with your design degree?

Discover employment and further study opportunities that you could consider once you graduate with a design degree, and learn how you can stand out to graduate employers.

We encourage you to:

  • undertake career planning and research
  • build your networks, meet employers and graduates
  • gain essential work experience during your course
  • attend career fairs and events
  • continually develop your skills and knowledge
  • get involved with relevant clubs and societies
  • visit the Careers Service for advice.

Knowledge and skills

A design degree gives you the perfect opportunity to develop and refine both your practical and theoretical skills (drawing, sketching, prototyping, specialist software) which are essential to work as a professional designer, but you will also develop a broad range of transferable skills which are desired by a wide range of employers:

  • logical thinking
  • creative problem-solving skills
  • idea development
  • strong observational, research and analytical skills
  • presentation skills
  • adaptability, flexibility and openness to new influences and concepts
  • collaborating with others
  • an eye for detail
  • project management
  • business acumen and budgeting
  • entrepreneurial skills in marketing your work and running your own business/ being self-employed.

Career options

Design is all around us, therefore studying design at University of Plymouth will open a wide range of career choices as it equips you with the skills, knowledge and contacts to enter the world of work and build a career that suits you. You could look at channelling your artist talents by pursuing a career as a designer. If considering this option, you could choose from a wealth of career paths including industrial/ product design, interior design, furniture design, clothing/ textile technologist and web design. You could also use your creative flair to work as an advertising art director or fashion buyer.

You could also consider less obvious options such as film and television production or working within marketing and advertising.

Many designers are self-employed – looking for freelance work, or setting up and running their own businesses – whilst others are employed. Typical employers include major design consultancies such as IDEO, Tangerine, Lego and Dyson. When considering your options, remember that your physical and digital portfolio are essential to presenting your work to potential employers and evidencing your skills. To find out more about going freelance or running your own business check out our self-employment and freelancing page.

You could also use your design skills to inspire others and work as a teacher (primary, secondary, further education) or higher education lecturer. Teaching opportunities are also available outside of a traditional classroom setting and you could consider using your artist flair to engage with people as a Community Arts Worker.

When considering your options, remember that your physical and digital portfolio are essential to presenting your work to potential employers and evidencing your skills.

It's worth remembering that many design graduates take the skills they have learnt elsewhere and find their way into less directly related graduate professions including marketing, the civil service and the charitable sector.


Researching your career options

With such a wide range of careers open to you as a design graduate, it is important to make sure you explore and research your options thoroughly so that you can make informed decisions about your future.

Take a look at Prospects, TargetJobs and the design association websites for inspiration:


Employment opportunities

Below is a snapshot of what some of University of Plymouth design graduates told us they were doing six months after graduation. For some graduates, these jobs serve as stepping stones to other roles by providing relevant workplace experience.

  • Designer/ Junior Designer
  • Events and Exhibitions Graduate Creative
  • Junior Interior Designer
  • Graduate Design Engineer
  • Furniture designer
  • Graphic Assistant
  • Draughtsman
  • CAD Design Engineer
  • Graduate CAD technician
  • Architectural Technician
  • Client Innovation Services Designer
  • Freelance graphic and product designer
  • Product Designer


Employers

Further study

Some of the careers chosen by design graduates will require or benefit from further study, so this should be considered carefully. The University of Plymouth offers the following postgraduate study options related to design:

You should consider the financial implications of further study as well as selecting a programme that suits your interests, learning style and future career direction. The following websites are a good starting point for exploring postgraduate options, but you may also benefit from talking to a Careers Consultant about your particular situation.

Some useful websites to help you find a suitable postgraduate programme:

Find a Masters

Find a PhD

Prospects

Careers Service support

Accessing support from the Careers Service couldn’t be easier, come along to the Careers Service Helpdesk in the Student Hub or access our 24/7 online resources.   

There is a wide range of support available from skills workshops to events, placements and internships advice, 1-2-1 appointments and help getting started with LinkedIn. 

Our bite-sized Skills Workshops can give your career the boost it needs. Choose from a range of topics including effective career planning, job hunting techniques, finding part-time work, CVs and interviews, or mastering LinkedIn.

Workshops are delivered by the Careers Service, however they are also an opportunity to learn from your peers, share experiences and ask questions. Visit myCareer to see the full range of activities and to book your place.

Connect with graduates

Build your network and job sector knowledge using LinkedIn’s alumni tool. This will allow you to see the career journeys of graduates from your programme, the qualifications they completed, the skills they developed and employers they worked for. You can then ‘connect’ with people of interest:

  • search LinkedIn for ‘University of Plymouth’
  • select ‘Alumni’ 
  • filter the results by subject, sector, company or location. 

For more information about the alumni tool select the LinkedIn alumni tool guide. If you are looking for help to set up or learn how to make the most out of your LinkedIn profile, select the LinkedIn guide for students or come to one of our workshops.

Other advice and guidance

Gain work experience

Undertaking work experience in your first and second years will help you stand out from the crowd when the time comes for you to complete applications for graduate employment and further study. Work experience develops valuable skills and qualities that employers are looking for and is essential for many roles. It can also help you to confirm or rule out particular career choices. Furthermore, experience in the workplace can bring you into contact with people who may be able to assist you at the beginning of your career.

You have plenty of options open to you. You could work part-time around your studies, undertake volunteering or approach organisations directly to negotiate short periods of work experience. The University of Plymouth Students’ Union also offers a wide range of volunteering opportunities.

You could also improve your skills and experience by undertaking some freelance work, entering competitions or applying for commissions.


Consider an artist residency

An artist residency gives you a specific period of time, away from your usual distractions) during which you can engage in reflection, exploration, research and possibly discover new ways of working. No two residences are the same and can vary in terms of length, location and exhibition collaborative opportunities. To find out more visit: www.resartis.org/en/


Clubs and societies

Engaging in a sport or society shows employers you are engaged and seek out opportunities, it also helps you improve your teamwork, communication and negotiation skills. Committee members develop leadership, diplomacy and organisational skills and will gain experience of meetings, handling funds, and society promotion

You may choose to join a society that is specifically linked to design or take the opportunity to explore the huge range of clubs, societies and sports, all of which can help you to broaden your horizons and explore new interests.