Transportation Designer: Career Profile, Employment Outlook, and Education Requirements

Explore the career requirements for a transportation designer. Get the facts about education requirements, job duties and employment outlook to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Engineering & Technology Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Transportation Designer Do?

Transportation designers create comprehensive plans for all types of vehicles, such as cars, trains, airplanes and boats. They are responsible for consulting with supervisors or clients and having a full understanding what the goal of a given design is. This may involve conducting some research on various aspects of proposed design, its uses and the requirements of the design. Designs are typically sketched out then recreated in CADD programs. After a design is complete designers meet with mechanical engineers or manufacturers to determine if it meets standards, before it's produced. The following chart provides an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree; master's degree may be preferred
Education Field of Study Transportation Design, Industrial Design
Key Responsibilities Creating designs of transportation products by hand, with CAD programs or by sculpting
Job Growth (2014-2024) 2%* (for all industrial designers)
Median Salary (2015) $67,130* (for commercial and industrial designers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is a Transportation Designer?

Transportation designers apply art, business, engineering and design concepts to cars, bikes, airplanes and boats as well as locomotive and off-road equipment. As a transportation designer, you would piece together the style, function, quality and safety of transportation products while considering brand and product life cycles. Mobility and vehicle functionality are also design factors.

In creating your design, you may sketch designs by hand or with computer programs. You could also create sculptures and present your designs to a production development team for modifications and approval before production begins. Many transportation designers work in specialized firms commissioned by manufacturers to design their products.

What Is the Employment Outlook?

The BLS projected that jobs for industrial designers, a category that includes transportation designers, would increase by 2% from 2014 to 2024 which is slower than average for all sectors. Employment is highly competitive, but demand for designers who can follow customer demand trends and utilize computer-aided design tools have the best opportunities (BLS).

What Education Is Required to Become a Transportation Designer?

You need at least a bachelor's degree to work as a transportation designer for a company. However, after you have earned a Bachelor of Science in Transportation Design or a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design, you may consider obtaining Master of Arts in Industrial Design or Master of Fine Arts in Design. You should have a strong background in engineering and computer-aided design with an extensive understanding of business techniques.

The coursework you can take in one of these programs usually covers design principles, industrial materials and manufacturing methods. You're also usually required to take physical science and mathematics courses. Some programs also emphasize global environmental and social issues, branding and functionality.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Industrial designers are employed in a number of fields outside of transportation. Some of these fields include other areas of manufacturing, whole sale trade and engineering. Those interested the drawing of designs and the use of CAD could go for a career as an architect. Alternatively, if you have an interested in engineering, industrial engineers work closely with designers and sometimes share some of the same tasks.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools