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Automotive Designer Job Description

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Using formal training in design principles and specialized software, automobile designers create two- and three-dimensional designs and models of a variety of motor vehicles. While the field is highly competitive, you can get your foot in the door with a bachelor’s degree and a top-notch portfolio. To enter the field, pursue hands-on opportunities that allow you to network with professionals.

Job Overview

Automobile designers, like other designers, use creativity and knowledge of automobiles to create attractive, functional designs of cars, trucks, SUVs, vans and buses. Your work begins with an initial idea and may end with a three-dimensional scale model. You explore aerodynamics, ergonomics, safety and calibration when coming up with ideas. Designers work for automobile manufacturers and car companies, and the competition for jobs is high. You typically work a 40-hour workweek in an office setting.

Daily Responsibilities

Alongside engineers and cost estimators, designers make preliminary sketches of car designs, including interior and exterior design and color scheme. Researching current body styles and safety flaws, you develop new body style designs or alter automobile designs to conform to current safety standards and government emissions regulations. Using computer-aided design -- or CAD -- software, you create three-dimensional mockups, including body style, trim, headlights, grill, taillights and exhaust systems. You may create other models and prototypes for physical and computer verification testing. After testing, you may alter current designs to meet a higher standard.

Necessary Skills

Auto designers must be experts at using CAD software, such as Autodesk, and graphics imaging software, like Adobe Photoshop. You must also have the artistic ability to create preliminary sketches and transfer them to a computer. You must think conceptually and consistently demonstrate creativity. Strong math, physics, language and grammar skills are essential, and interpersonal skills are also helpful. An understanding of automobile designs and engineering, as well as the ability to create full-scale models is important.

Education and Training

Automobile designers complete at least a bachelor’s degree in automotive design, automotive engineering or industrial engineering, which are offered through colleges, universities and art schools. Master’s degree programs give you more in-depth training. In addition to completing courses in math, model-making and CAD, complete an internship in the field to enhance your portfolio and network with professionals. Some programs may also allow you to work closely with the Society of Automotive Engineers to complete projects and designs. According to ONet Online, automotive engineers are projected to see slower-than-average growth from 2012 to 2022.


Michigan-based Jennifer Betts has been writing and editing education and career articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared on several educational training websites and blogs. She graduated from Saginaw Valley State University with a Bachelor of Arts in graphic design and a minor in English. Betts’ first writing job was working as a ghostwriter creating list articles for blogs.

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