Automotive Design Field

Get Into Automotive Design


There are plenty of creative people in the world.

If you’re one of them, then there are some great career options for you in the automotive industry. If you want to join the automotive field via creative avenues and obtain a well-paying job, then getting into automotive design may be one of your best options.

To be the one that comes up with a new design for future cars and trucks sounds sure exciting to us, even if it’s just to design the exterior curves and lines, or to lay out the ergonomics of the interior.

For inspiration and example, see Michelle Christensen, a 28-year old exterior designer recently out of college. She herself designed and saw to completion the majority of the design of the new Acura ZDX.

When it comes to automotive design, the pinnacle of the profession is to be responsible for developing new vehicles. This ranges from creating a completely new vehicle from scratch (like Michelle), or changing the appearance of a current model for a new release. In the field, you could concentrate your efforts on the exterior or interior of the vehicle, or details such as the color and trim. In order to excel in the automotive design field, you will need to be truly creative.

Get Into Automotive Design

Being artistic certainly wouldn’t hurt your chances of being good in your field, though individuals with an engineering passion certainly excel as well. It will be very important for you to stay updated with new trends in this position when designing future cars – you’ll likely be subscribed to industry magazines, will attend conferences, and many other things. You will need to know everything and anything about design, and what you predict will be hot and sell well years down the line.

There are many different skills required for you to be successful as an automotive designer. It’s required that you have strong communication skills since you’ll often be working on a team, and/or selling ideas to higher-ups. You will also need to know your way around computers as well. Although you’ll likely have plenty of sketches of new concepts on paper, you certainly won’t design new cars on it.

Instead, you will need to be familiar with computer-aided design software such as CATIA and others which are taught at many colleges and universities. Don’t worry, you still get to work with clay, and make scale models of cars too.

You will need more than a high school diploma in order to join the automotive design field. You will need to go to college and get a bachelor’s degree at the least. Some of the most suitable professions include mechanical engineering, automotive engineering, architecture, and industrial design.

While still attending school, it’s vital you start building your portfolio by being actively involved in the profession (this could be from projects you do in your spare time, to being involved with a club on campus, or something such as a senior project.

You will need to have an excellent portfolio in order to get into  the field, since many call themselves “creative,” but don’t have much to show for it in their professional portfolio.

When deciding on the car design college or university that you want to attend, it’s important that you choose carefully. Picking a college that’s located near many automobile companies and/or popular in the field is often the best choice, as potential alumni will be the ones hiring.

These schools also work with companies to place graduates so you may have job prospects immediately after graduating. This doesn’t mean that you should only look for a college that’s popular with the automobile industry however.  You need to ensure the particular school you’re going to will teach you exactly what you want to learn.

You should visit multiple colleges and talk to some of the students in attendance or who have gone on to graduate. Get a feel for the vibe of the school, and see who your peers would be.

After you graduate with a bachelor’s degree, you should have little trouble obtaining a lower-level job paying from $30,000 to $50,000 per year. You could increase this over time if you’re good, however, you will have plenty of opportunities to advance.

Besides being passionate and knowledgeable, you would still need to further your education in order to reach for the top of the totem pole. Getting your master’s degree in automotive engineering will certainly put you on the right track. You may even want to consider going into management like many other auto designers have done. Getting a degree in business administration would be the best step then.

You can find a job with many different establishments as an auto designer. You can work directly for a large multinational corporation such as Honda or General Motors.  Alternatively, you could choose to get involved with a start-up alternate fuel vehicle company or an exotic/race car designing firm.

If you really want to be an excellent automotive designer regardless of your field/specialization, you’ll need to realize how quickly trends can change and be able to respond quickly. Many auto designers make the decision to join a professional organization. This provides you with plenty of benefits such as seeing major developments in the field first, discussing trends and ideas with your peers as well as more experienced designers, and it never hurts to network regardless of your profession.

If you’re thinking of a career in the automotive industry, we hope you find what we provided here meaningful, and that you’ll go ahead and start researching and narrowing down your options and start getting thinking about your career. Cars aren’t going anywhere, and there’s always the need for new and better designers—just look at some of the bland cars today!

Good luck!

Photo Credit: Shutterstock is a leading auto buying portal and consumer information website. It has helped more than 50 million consumers research and price new and used cars.


  1. My name is Lawrence I’m 20 years old and i leave in south africa , i always have Ideas about cars and i putt them on paper because i have a good drawing skill and i want to know how can i become a car designer ?

    • Thanks for the message Lawrence. We don’t know enough about car design to give specific advice about it, but if you do a Google search for “How to become a car designer” you’ll see results like this. Hopefully it helps!

      If there’s anything I can do to help you get more out of our site, just let me know. We have plenty of advice on how to effectively network to get a job, so a lot of that should apply in your situation.

  2. Hi I’m in grade nine in south africa and I want 2 know how 2 become a automotive designer in south africa what subjects must I chooses ? 2 become a automotive designer :)

  3. my name is bhaskar,
    and I am a automobile degree holder and I know catia and pro e . so I want to become a automotive designer for that what should I do to become

  4. hai my name is Akshay and i need to know which course should i take to become an automobile designer can you pleas sent me some detail about it

  5. I am always drawing cars all day every day and sometimes I wish I could sell the designs. It is sort of a hobby and something I don’t want to depend on for my future income maybe as just some extra cash on the side. Any suggestion on how to just sell my designs I really don’t have funds to build one-offs, but do soo many drawings probably have a few thousand designs all different.

  6. Hi sir, my name is honey sidhu, and I can draw new and very good models of all car,, I have draw many supercar, suvs and many more, and I can help an automotive company for new car design in future,, so plz contact with me.

  7. Hello,

    My name is Nick. I am still in highschool and I am currently taking the engineering classes my school is providing through Project Lead The Way (PTLW). I am a senior and I’ve been drawing cars from a very young age. I grew up in a stock car racing family and I have been on a big decision that I want to persue a carrer in auto industry design. To be honest, I dont have any idea of what college courses I should take and what I can be doing now to better prepare myself for the rest of my life. I have an idea that I want to major in industrial design and mechanical engineering. Creating new ideas is something I’ve been told by friends, family, and teachers is something im very good at. During my free times, I dedicate my time to sports, drawing everything from houses, cars, and nature. I participate in robotics club, and Skills USA for technical drafting. My architecture teacher has followed in the field of industrial design, but I feel like I dont know what questions I could ask him to guide me into the right direction. I am very very very passionate about cars and thinking of cool and almost impossible ideas to make the best innovations to improve our future. I guess I just want to know if what im doing is good enough to accel into this carrer and if my head is on straight, and what can I do better prepare myself for this future???

    • I have a nice dream about automotive field, right now am reading computer engineering as my bachelor degree, can this lead me to my dream field?

  8. Sir,

    I am already done with my in mechanical engineering and further want to excel my career as a automobile designer. Please guide me about the courses or degree i should pursue along with the necessary route or circuit diagram or colleges to take a start up.

    Please send me the details.



    • Brother, I think u are from India DSK ISD in India is good way to join. Their fees i hefty but their curriculum is good.
      Just visit their site and I think you still have time to fill their form for this year and sit in their entrance test. I am also looking forward to join them.

  9. If my name and design became a top selling car, could I be paid a commission for each car sold, like the salesperson?

    • Not neccesarily, usually the car company you have designed the car for (if you are working for multiple companies) will pay you a sum based on your contract for the design upon recieving the design. Depending on credidibility and the time you have spent with that car company you wouldnt have to worry about money in a situation like that.

  10. Hello sir, my name is Jeelan. I want to be a proffessional automobile designer so what kind of courses should be required to become a designer – please send me the details.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *