A car designer is responsible for creating innovative designs that improve the functionality and appearance of automobiles. Most automotive designers work in teams with other designers or engineers. The designer will make basic sketches of the automobile using computer aided modeling (CAM), then produce more detailed three-dimensional images. Car designers can earn a living wage and combine technical skills, creativity and innovation.
Part 1 of 3: Get the right training
Step 1. Gain experience in the automotive industry
Before you graduate in automotive design, you should start by developing a genuine interest in and passion for cars. If possible, spend time in an auto store or work on a car first to see how they're built and mechanically run.
- You should also develop your knowledge of the latest trends in automotive design and learn about innovations in this sector.
- Drawing and sculpting skills are also essential to be a good car designer. Most employers are looking for people with creative skills and mechanical knowledge of cars as they will make full designers.
Step 2. Obtain your diploma in automotive design
Having a bachelor's degree is usually the minimum education requirement for applying for car designer positions. Technical schools that have strong relationships with automotive companies and traditional universities with industry-respected automotive design programs are your two best options.
- While a degree from an automotive design or engineering program is ideal, you may also be qualified to apply as a car designer if you have a bachelor's degree in design or industrial engineering.
- Most often, employers recruit graduates from automotive design programs to work at home or offer them an internship. It is therefore important that you choose your post-baccalaureate program well. Look for automotive design programs that are affordable, recognized, and offer a variety of much-needed education. You can also take entry-level courses in automotive design or the broader transportation industry as part of your undergraduate degree, and then consider applying for an honors program or diploma in automotive design (master's or master's degree).).
- Most automotive design programs offer courses that focus on the design of cars and other road vehicles, as well as the mechanical functions and dynamics of vehicles. You will also take courses in math, computer-aided modeling, and model making to prepare you for work in this industry.
Step 3. Consider getting a master's degree if you want a higher salary
Some car designers decide to pursue a master's degree in order to qualify for a higher salary. You may also consider getting a master's degree in automotive engineering to broaden your knowledge and skills. However, having a master's degree is by no means a requirement to apply for automotive designer positions.
A master's degree in industrial design or industrial engineering may also be a good option
Step 4. Look for an internship at design companies
Rather than jumping straight into the competitive world of automotive design, apply for internships at design companies during your final year of schooling. An internship will give you the opportunity to work with experienced professionals and consolidate your portfolio.
Keep in mind that most internships are unpaid (if they last less than 2 months) or very low paid. However, many internships can lead to a job with the company in question or give you an edge over your competition if you are applying for a position and the company is already familiar with your work
Part 2 of 3: Build your portfolio and network
Step 1. Make models for different companies
Your portfolio should show your creativity and innovation. But it should also demonstrate a good knowledge of the current types and styles of design used by large companies in the automotive industry. Professional automotive designers are expected to know how to create models that will fit the aesthetic of the company or its portfolio. Pick several big names in this industry like Ford, Toyota or Volkswagen and create sketches based on existing models of their cars.
- For example, Ford uses a model called Kinetic Design. The design focuses on the idea of a stationary object that gives the impression of moving. This theme influences the design of every car Ford makes, from sporty models like the Focus ST to more family-friendly models like the 4x4. As a designer, you need to be able to work following this theme while being creative and innovative.
- Your portfolio should also show your skills in computer-aided modeling and clay sculpture to show potential employers the range of your skills.
Step 2. Network during your internship
Make a good impression during your internship by asking your internship supervisor and other professionals for advice. Build professional relationships with your peers and make a good impression on senior company executives by completing your duties and demonstrating your skills as part of your internship.
At the end of your internship, exchange your business cards with mentors and peers with whom you have had a good professional rapport. Discuss with your internship supervisor the possibilities of future recruitment in his company and how you could develop your skills to be the best possible candidate when an opportunity arises
Step 3. Join a professional automotive design organization
Many car designers who are entering this industry join a professional organization to better integrate. These organizations can help you meet other professional designers, discuss current innovations in car design, and network you with more experienced designers.
Ask your peers in your automotive program if they belong to a trade association or do your research yourself online. Start by contacting the most important organizations in this sector, such as Le Conseil National des Professions de l'Automobile
Step 4. Network at trade shows and conferences dedicated to automotive design
These are great opportunities to meet the most influential designers in the industry, learn about the latest innovations in automotive design, and network with potential employers. Many trade associations will hold their own annual conference and may have links to larger trade shows and conventions.
Take your business cards to trade shows and conferences to make networking easier. Be friendly and motivated when you meet a potential contact
Part 3 of 3: Apply
Step 1. Look for a position in large multinational companies
Many designers start by applying for junior positions in established companies like Renault, Peugeot, Ford or Toyota. The advantage of working for a large company is that you can learn a lot from a team of experienced designers, become familiar with a particular brand and theme, and earn a steady income. In France, salaries can range from 50,000 to 65,000 euros per year.
Step 2. Consider a position in a start-up
As a designer, you can adapt to a smaller business that is entering innovative industries like electric cars. Although you may receive a lower salary than a position in a large company, you will be able to work on alternative models and innovative approaches including alternatives to conventional fuel.
Step 3. Be prepared to relocate to work
Often, after graduation, you will need to be prepared to move to a city with better work opportunities. You may have to travel abroad or change region if a position becomes available and it matches your profile.