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Design manager

Also known as -

Principal designer, design co-ordinator, design and build manager

Design managers coordinate all of the design work required during construction projects. They manage the production of technical drawings and plans used to build a structure. Design managers bring together architects, structural and service engineers, along with specialist designers and BIM technicians, to create coordinated designs which can be used during the build and aid maintenance of the structure once complete.

Average salary*




How to become a design manager

There are several routes to becoming a design manager. You could gain the qualifications you need on a university or college course, or you could start on your career path as an apprentice. You should explore the options to find out which is the right one for you.

This is a role requiring significant technical skills. It is possible to go into it without formal qualifications, however it is generally more accepted if you do a university or college course and have several years’ experience.

You may need a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card to work on a construction site.


You could study for an undergraduate degree or Higher National Diploma (HND) in a relevant subject such as architecture, design and construction management, or architectural technology. Afterwards, you may be able to join a company’s graduate trainee scheme.

Find out what the entry requirements are where you live.

College/training provider

You could complete a BTEC in building studies, building engineering or building management, or a Higher National Certificate (HNC) in construction management or architecture.

Find out what the entry requirements are where you live.

Work experience

Work experience is essential to gaining employment within the construction industry. You could gain this at school, or by working weekends and holidays with a company or relative who works in construction. Potential employers will always be pleased to see work experience listed on your CV.


  • Design skills and knowledge
  • Knowledge of engineering science and technology
  • Able to come up with new ways of doing things
  • Be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • Analytical thinking skills
  • Persistence and determination
  • Leadership and motivational skills
  • Able to use a computer and the main software packages competently


To become a Design manager you could complete a:

  • Level 4 Construction Design and Build Technician apprenticeship

To become a Design manager you could complete a:

  • Level 6 SVQ at SCQF Level 6 in Built Environment Design
  • SVQ in Built Environment Design and Consultancy Practice at SCQF level 11
  • Technical Apprenticeship at SCQF Level 9 in Built Environment Design Management

To become a Design manager you could complete a:

  • Level 7 NVQ in Built Environment Design and Consultancy Practice

What does a design manager do?

As a design manager you will be responsible for looking after teams of designers to make sure projects are produced on time to a high specification.

The job role of a design manager involves the following duties:

  • Motivating and encouraging internal and external design teams
  • Ensuring structural drawings and designs are produced on time, to a high quality, and are easy to decipher
  • Overseeing the design process using technical expertise
  • Working with clients to ensure that their expectations are met
  • Reviewing designs with health and safety in mind
  • Avoiding errors and reducing financial risk during construction
  • Ensuring designs are available to those who need them, at the appropriate time
  • Maintaining thorough documentation of the design process
  • Keeping up-to-date with changing building legislation and codes of practice relating to design
  • Working in an office, with occasional site visits.

How much could you earn as a design manager?

The expected salary for a design manager varies as you become more experienced.

  • Newly trained design managers can earn in the region of £25,000-£30,000
  • Trained with experience design managers can earn in the region of £30,000-£60,000
  • Senior, chartered or master design managers can earn in the region of £70,000-£90,000

Salaries typically range depending on location and level of responsibility. Salaries and career options improve with chartered status.

* Salaries have been collected from multiple industry sources


Check out the latest Design Manager vacancies: 

As these are external websites, the number of vacancies related to your preferred role may vary. New opportunities will be posted as they come up.

Career path and progression

As a junior, trainee, assistant or technician with a few year's experience of technical design projects, you could work your way up to BIM (Building Information Modelling) coordinator, or a mid-level designer.

With further project management experience, you could progress to a senior role as a design manager, principal designer, build manager or BIM manager and earn a higher salary.

You could become self-employed and work freelance.

As a design manager, you could gain chartered status and further qualifications through the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) or Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and move into a project director role

Progression Opportunities

Explore the progression opportunities below

  • Current role Design manager Find out more about design manager salary, roles and responsibilities in this Go...
    Read more
  • Current role BIM manager The BIM Manager oversees the creation of digital models of current & proposed pr...
    Read more
  • Current role Project director Manage progress, budget & teams to ensure the successful conclusion of construct...
    Read more
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