How to Become a Toy Designer

How to Become a Toy Designer: Career Path Guide

Becoming a toy designer usually requires a post-secondary education in a field related to toy/product design, behavioural science, engineering or business.


Jobs in this field are highly competitive, so the more relevant your skills and education are to the types of toys your prospective employer produces, the more likely they are to hire you.


If you want to become a toy designer, you first need to determine if this career path is a good fit for your skills, interests and personality traits. If the following description sounds like you, then you’re probably well suited for a career as a toy designer:


• You have an interest in making children happy

• You have knowledge of what toys children enjoy at certain ages

• You have an interest in combining aesthetics with function

• You have manual illustration and computer aided design (CAD) skills

• You have skills in mechanics, sewing, carpentry, electronics, and/or robotics

• You take satisfaction from watching design ideas materialize into finished products


Below we've outlined what you'll need to begin a career as a toy designer. We've also included helpful information for this career, such as salary expectations, an outline of the skills you’ll need, educational requirements, a list of possible employer types, and much more!



Education Needed to Become a Toy Designer

To become a toy designer, you typically need a college diploma or university degree in a relevant field. This is due to the fact that most toy design jobs exist with toy manufacturers, who generally prefer to hire candidates with a relevant education, such as a degree or diploma in the following types of programs:


Toy Design: The most relevant field is of course, Toy Design. Subjects in Toy Design programs typically range from product safety to child psychology to robotics to business. College and university programs in Toy Design are however relatively few in number in North America.


Engineering: Another field that is highly applicable to becoming a toy designer is Engineering (primarily Mechanical or Electrical), due to the fact that many toys have become more mechanically and electronically sophisticated.


Liberal Arts: Pursuing a degree in liberal arts can be highly applicable to a career as a toy designer, particularly coursework in areas that focus on toys and their impact on child development, such as behavioral science (sociology, psychology and anthropology).


Business: Coursework in certain areas of business can be highly valuable if you want to become a toy designer. Consider pursuing courses in merchandising, business administration and marketing, particularly those that relate to the toy industry.


Success Tip: Regardless of your main area of study, pursuing coursework in computer-aided design (CAD) can be highly beneficial for a career as a toy designer. 




Toy Designer Job Description

Toy designers envision new toys and produce designs, which ultimately become completed products. Most toy designers work directly for toy manufacturers or toy design firms, wherein they are responsible for developing original toy designs, and working with a team to produce prototypes and develop the toys they design.


Some toy designers are self employed however, earning their living by selling their concepts to large manufacturers, or producing and selling their own toys. Since self-employed toy designers are usually responsible for building the toys they design, they must acquire the proper tools and materials.


Regardless of employment structure, the first responsibility of a toy designer is to come up with an idea for a new toy, including what it will look like, how it will function, and what segment of the market it will be sold to.


After the designer has a good idea of what the toy will be like, they can then put their idea on paper and being creating the design. This often involves drawing the design of the toy with either a pencil and paper, or using computer-aided design (CAD) software. These sketches will ultimately be used to create final specifications and a prototype.


Before a prototype of the toy can be built by the designer or the designer’s team, many things must be carefully considered and thought through, including:


• Whether or not the idea is good and unique

• How products and product systems work

• What materials are to be used for the toy

• The lifecycle of the toy

• Environmental issues, including sustainable design

• Health and safety issues

• Consumer preferences and marketing issues

• How best to present the idea to management and other stakeholders

• Cost effectiveness and profitability

• Legal issues, such as patent protection or copyright infringement 



What Kinds of Toys Can I Specialize in Designing?

Toys come in many forms and styles, ranging from simple handmade wooden blocks or plastic action figures to complex and intricate robotic and mechanical toys. Many toy designers specialize in the design of certain types of toys, or toys for certain age groups. For example, one toy designer may create nothing but board games, while another may create plastic action figures. 


Some types of toys you may specialize in as a designer include:


• Arts and crafts

• Action figures

• Construction toys

• Dolls

• Dramatic play

• Electronic toys

• Mechanical toys

• Outdoor play toys

• Plush toys

• Puppetry

• Puzzles and games

• Scale models

• Scientific exploration toys

• Toy instruments

• Toy vehicles

• Toys for animals

• Water toys



Toy Designer Job Duties

Although the specific job duties of a toy designer can vary based on the structure of their employment and their level of responsibility, they are generally responsible for performing the following duties:


• Envision concept for toys, including assuring that the toy meets safety standards

• Study market trends in order to determine what the toy market needs (trends may be provided by company analysts)

• Use manual sketching and/or computer-aided design (CAD) software to develop initial plans

• Confer with management regarding plans for new toy development

• Liaise with other members of the design team

• Work within budget guidelines

• In collaboration with company executives, make final decision as product suitability for release into company’s product line


Toy designers that are self-employed however, must also typically perform addition duties, in order to find buyers for their ideas and products:


• Establish and manage a production and distribution budget

• Contact small or medium-sized manufacturers in order to sell ideas or products to them

• May source and hire a firm to negotiate the sale of toy design or idea

• May manufacture and distribute toy personally

• Attend trade shows to increase visibility to toy manufacturers and distributors 



How to Get a Job as a Toy Designer

There are many possible routes one can take in order to get a job as a toy designer. One common way to break into the field is to apply with toy manufacturers as you approach graduation. If you are unable to find work as a toy designer right away, don’t be afraid to apply for an entry-level position with a manufacturer, as this can be a great way to get an all-important ‘foot in the door’ with an employer.


Once you have an entry-level job with a toy manufacturer you will have a great opportunity to showcase your work ethic and other skills. If a design position comes up you will have a much greater chance of being landing it than an outside applicant.


Conversely, some toy designers break into the field by using their skills and creativity to invent a model or game of their own design and construction and selling it to a larger manufacturer.


Success Tip: Arranging an internship opportunity while you’re still a student is a great way to get a head start on your career as a toy designer, as this will help you gain valuable industry experience and make important contacts. Speak with your instructors and your school’s career services office, as they may be able to help you identify and apply for such opportunities.





Who Creates Jobs for Toy Designers?

The following types of organizations typically employ toy designers, on a full-time, part-time or contractual basis:


• Toy design firms

• Toy manufacturers

• Self-employment as owner of own toy company

• Self-employment as a freelance toy design who sells designs to manufacturers


Most toy designers are in-house employees of companies that manufacture toys. There are however, toy designer jobs found with toy design firms that sell their ideas to toy manufacturers.


Aside from working for a toy design firm or a company or a toy manufacturer, toy designers may also be self-employed; they may be designers and/or inventors that run their own companies.


Some toy designers, for instance, may design and create toys that they sell on their own, by contacting toy stores, attending trade shows, opening their own stores (‘brick and mortar’ or online stores) and by other means. Others, however, may just sell their toy designs to manufacturers, who then go on to mass-produce the toy.


Toy Designer Salary Level

The salary level of toy designers can vary greatly, depending on a variety of factors. For example, depending on their employment structure, some toy designers may earn an inconsistent and fluctuating income, while others may earn a more stable and reliable income.


Aside from their employment structure, the salary level of toy designers may also be influenced by the following factors:


• Their level of education

• Their level of experience, skill and aptitude

• The region in which they work

• Whether or not they are self-employed

• The size and type of their employer

• The type of toy they specialize in (if applicable)


Toy Designer Salary Alberta: According to the 2013 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans working in the Industrial Designers occupational group earn an average salary of $85,430 per year.


Toy Designer Salary Canada: According to Service Canada, the average salary level of Canadian workers in the Industrial Designers occupational group is $46,307 per year.


Toy Designer Salary United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of American workers in the Industrial Designers occupational group is $59,610 per year.



Characteristics Needed to Become a Toy Designer

In order to enjoy performing the duties of a toy designer, you need to have certain personality traits. Taking enjoyment from your job duties is important, as it helps you maintain a positive attitude towards your work, which can lead to having a long and successful career.


• Enjoy making children happy

• Love of toys and gadgets

• A great imagination

• Aware of the effect of colours on child psychology

• Able to face competition and rejection

• Take satisfaction from seeing ideas materialize physically

• Enjoy experimenting with new materials and systems

• A desire to keep up with market trends



Skills Needed to Become a Toy Designer

Becoming a toy designer requires the ability to effectively combine a variety of skills in different areas, including:


Computer Skills: Toy designers need to understand how to use computer programs, especially computer aided design and drafting programs (CADD), as they play a crucial role in executing various functions, such as documentation, illustration, rendering, animation, drafting and three-dimensional modeling.


Manual Design Skills: Even though computers play an increasingly large part in the work of toy designers, they still rely heavily on their hands and their manual dexterity for creating sketches and working with materials in the development of prototypes. Working with their hands also requires toy designers to have strong visual awareness and good hand-eye coordination. Toy designers may also require sculpting, sewing, and woodworking skills, depending on their area of specialization.


Knowledge of Materials and Processes: In order to create designs that are aesthetically appealing, durable, functional, safe and profitable, toy designers must have thorough knowledge of the materials used in the development of their designs. Many toy designers must also have knowledge of mechanics, electronics and robotics, depending on the types of toys they are responsible for designing.


Consumer Analysis Skills: Toy designers need to understand their target market; they need to be knowledgeable about what a child can do at different ages, and what types of toys they like to play with at certain ages. Toy designers also need to be able to spot trends within their target market, and should be able to apply logic and reasoning skills to study their target consumers and recognize the need for certain types of toys.


Business Management Skills: Toy designers that are considering self-employment will require basic business marketing and management skills. They will need to know how to find consumers that want to buy their products, introduce those consumers to their products, and ensure that the capital, time and materials are available to make and deliver those products.



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Careers Similar to Toy Designer

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to Toy Designer, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.


Early Childhood Educator


Furniture Designer

Industrial Designer

Video Game Developer



References: Toy Designer Career Information

Please consult the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as a toy designer.



Occupations in Alberta:Industrial Designer.” (March 31, 2019). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved January 15, 2020.

Arts & Design:Industrial Designers.” (September 4, 2019). Bureau of Labor Statistics - United States Government website. Retrieved January 15, 2020.

Career Profile:Toy Designer - What They Do.” (n.d.). College Foundation of North Carolina website. Retrieved January 15, 2020.



Scholarships for Becoming a Toy Designer

Scholarships in Canada and the United States listed for majors that apply to becoming a Toy Designer can be found on our All Scholarships by Major page.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Becoming a Toy Designer: Applicable Majors

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point to becoming a toy designer. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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