Automotive Designer: Job Duties, Career Outlook, and Education Prerequisites

Research what it takes to become an automotive designer. Learn about potential salary, job outlook, and key skills needed to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Engineering & Technology Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Information at a Glance

Get information on what an automotive designer does, and find out what education and training are required. The following chart provides an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree, or other relevant degree
Education Field of Study Industrial Design
Key Responsibilities Draft layouts of automobile components and systems, determine factors that may affect design proposals by using previous car models, develop innovative designs for automobiles
Job Growth (2012-2022) 4%* (commercial and industrial designers)
Mean Annual Salary (2013) $64,570* (commercial and industrial designers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Would I Do as an Automotive Designer?

As an automotive designer, you'll draft layouts of automobile components, assemblies and systems using sketches, models and prototypes. You'll also determine factors that may affect design proposals by using previous car models, understanding manufacturing limitations and collaborating with automotive engineers. Based on detailed calculations, mathematical formulas and computerized work aids, you'll develop innovative designs for automobiles that fit consumer's needs and reflect a company's image and values.

What Can I Expect for the Career Outlook?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), positions in industrial design, an industry that includes automobile designers, were expected to increase four percent from 2012-2022 ( Consumer-and business-based demands for updated and newer vehicles is the major contributing factor to this outlook. Additionally, emphasis on quality, comfort and pricing will create a need for new automotive designs and employment opportunities.

In May of 2010, the BLS reported that the mean annual salary for industrial and commercial designers was $64,570. The BLS reported that the majority of jobs in this sector were based in the states of Michigan, California, New York, Pennsylvania and Illinois. As cars become more technologically complex and fuel efficient to meet consumer demands, prospective designers should be prepared to compete fiercely for jobs in the industry.

What Education Do I Need?

There are different ways in which you can learn the necessary skills required of automotive designers. Earning a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design or another relevant design-based degree is typically required for you to enter this field. Institutions accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design provide relevant coursework, such as design, sketching, computer-aided design, industrial materials, manufacturing methods, engineering, physical science, mathematics and other related courses.

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