The design panel is missing on my right menu

All I see is comment inspect and export.

My UI designer has access to it, but I as a software dev dont. Could it be a permissions thing?

Hi John,
If you view figma by share link and set with Can view. You can’t view design panel. If only share link with you and set permission to Can edit.

So being able to edit the designs is the only way to see the design tab?

Yes, only with can edit permission.