Degree programs specific to transportation design are available as concentrations through departments of architecture and specific interdisciplinary transportation design programs. However, they are not extremely common. Students looking to gain skills related to a career as a transportation designer may also consider programs such as a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design, Bachelor of Science in Vehicle Design, or Master of Science in Industrial Design. Students may be required to submit a design portfolio during the application process.
Bachelor Degree Programs in Transportation Design
Four-year bachelor's programs require students to be high school graduates to enroll. These programs are primarily focused on the design of vehicles and other transportation methods. Energy efficiency, aerodynamics, horsepower, and acceleration are focused on as they relate to functional concerns like a vehicle's acceleration, drag, and safety issues. Programs also offer coursework in:
- Vehicle fabrication
- Vehicle architecture
- Mobility design
- Automotive marketing
Master of Science in Transportation Design
Transportation design programs may include a vehicle concentration, which focuses on product development and new vehicle technologies. Two-year master's programs will need students to be bachelor's degree holders before admission. Internships and research projects focused on transportation design and real-world transportation problems may be part of the program.
Depending on the program, students may spend their time in the studio creating projects. In addition to project work, students can take courses in the following areas:
- Industrial design drawing
- 3-D modeling
- Transportation materials
- Model making
- Vehicle manufacturing
Popular Career Options
Because these programs cover all modes of transportation, graduates are able to work on projects ranging from public transportation to watercraft to private cars. Employment possibilities include:
- Specialist, vehicle customization
- Public transportation designer
- Watercraft designer
- Airline interior design professional
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), industrial designers, which include industrial planners, could experience an employment growth of only 3% from 2018-2028. The BLS also reported that most industrial and commercial designers earned an average salary of $71,430, as of May 2018.
Obtaining a bachelor's and master's degree in industrial or vehicle design are typically how students earn an education in transportation design, preparing them to work as designers, mechanics, and more for a variety of vehicle types.