Auto Designer: Career Information and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an auto designer. Get a quick view of the schooling requirements and career information as well as details about job duties, curricula and salary statistics to find out if this is the career for you.

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Auto designers conceptualize and produce automobile designs. The minimum education for becoming an auto designer is typically a bachelor's degree. These programs provide exposure to topics such as automotive electronic systems and human-centered design.

Essential Information

Auto designers draft automobile design ideas based on company directives and the needs of buyers. Creativity, as well as technical and problem-solving skills, are needed to thrive in this position. A minimum of a bachelor's degree in auto design or industrial design typically is needed for entry-level auto designer positions.

Required Education Bachelor's degree
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 3% (for commercial and industrial designers)
Median Annual Salary (2018)* $66,590 (for commercial and industrial designers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Auto Designer Career Information

Auto designers are industrial designers who combine creativity with technical knowledge to produce drafts of automobile interiors and exteriors. They must consider aspects such as quality, function, safety and style when working toward a final design. An auto designer also must incorporate the wants of his or her employer and the sentiments of the public in proposed designs.

In order to better understand what the public desires in a new car, an auto designer may attend trade shows, consult with consumer research firms and visit manufacturers and suppliers. An auto designer also may draw inspiration from previous car models. The actual process of drafting involves use of computer-aided design (CAD) software. This allows an auto designer to quickly change design elements. At various points of the design process, an auto designer will work with engineers to determine the cost to manufacture the proposed vehicle, as well as ease of assembly.

Auto Designer Requirements

A bachelor's degree in industrial design or automobile design is needed for most entry-level auto designer positions. Job applicants who wish to compete for managerial positions, such as chief designer or department head, may need many years of experience in the field and/or a master's degree.

Auto Design Curricula

Topics covered in a bachelor's degree program in industrial design might include automotive electronic systems, automotive interior and exterior design, manufacturing processes and human-centered design. Some undergraduate programs may include a thesis project or internship, the latter of which allows students to gain practical skills and possibly increase their chances of employment.

Master's degree programs in automotive or mechanical engineering often include courses in advanced mechatronics, systems engineering, advanced energy solutions, combustion processes and unmanned and autonomous vehicle systems. A capstone project or thesis likely will be included. Some colleges offer 5-year programs that allow students to earn a bachelor's and master's degree.

Career Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that jobs in the field of industrial design will increase 3% from 2018-2028; this is two percentage points less than the average growth rate predicted for all occupations during that same time period (www.bls.gov). The agency also reports that commercial and industrial designers earned a median salary of $66,590 in 2018.

Auto designers create automobile designs based on company directives and market trends. While a bachelor's degree is the essential entry-level requirement, auto designers with senior-level positions usually possess a master's degree and industry experience. In 2018, the median annual salary for auto designers was $66,590.

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