Arts, Audio/Video Technology & Communications

Automotive Design Career Path: Is Car Designing a Good Career?

A mix of creative and technical, the automotive design career path can be very fulfilling. But is it the right one for you? Pune-based Automotive Designer Kushagra Dhall discusses everything from scope to pros & cons to daily work life as a car designer.

Kushagra Dhall Automotive Design Career Path

1. Automotive Design Career Path: What Does an Automotive Designer Do?

In this modern and advanced world, we have the latest technology and gadgets available with us. The new sci-fi movies we watch are full of these technologically advanced vehicles. I am sure that all of us know what is happening with our transportation system with these advanced gadgets, cars and bikes are going to be electric soon. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, an American electric car maker, has been doing the best possible things to achieve the electrification of our transportation system.

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Now, you guys have been seeing and will see too many out-of-the-box or unimaginable cars and bikes, like flying cars, water cars, cars that drive without driver, just like the Iron Man stuff, call Jarvis and get the car or anything ready for you. But, seeing these creates interest in any movie and you guys do love them also.

So, have you ever imagined who does all these things and who makes these cars so beautiful that you guys fall in love with them? The answer is an Automotive Designer. Yes, there is a person or a group of persons who design these beauties and present it to the world, not only for movies but also for real world, starting from Maruti 800 to all the Ferrari, Lamborghini and Bugatti.

How long does it take to become a car designer guide

I am also a part of this fantastic profession and I make designs for cars, motorcycles, auto-rickshaws and all the other means of personal and public transport. And, you know, along with vehicles, all the other things are also designed like the phone you are reading this article in and also the chair that you might be sitting on right now.

Contents: Jump to Section

1.1 Industry/Sector
1.2 Social Image
1.3 Reasons to Become an Automotive Designer
2.1 Personality Traits Required
2.2 Physical Demands
2.3 Psychological Demands
3.1 Extra-Curricular Activities Recommended
3.2 Related Hobbies to Take Up
3.3 Related Movies/ TV Shows
3.4 Related Fiction to Read/ Novels
4.1 Part-Time Options
4.2 Traveling Required
4.3 Average Workday/What to Expect
5.1 Retirement Prospects
5.2 Threats from Automation
5.3 Common Reasons for People to Quit

1.1 Industry/Sector

Industrial sector; both public and private sectors

Automotive design as a profession comes under the Automotive Industry and can be government driven or private also. All the big companies like Tata, Maruti Suzuki, Honda, Mahindra and other automotive companies have a division of design in their workflow. Apart from these big companies, there are many service providers’ companies who help these big giants with their demands and requirements.

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1.2 Social Image

Not well-known, but really well-respected among those who understand it.

To be very honest, automotive design is not a very renowned profession, say as engineering is. However, it is gaining popularity among the enthusiasts these days. Most people confuse design with engineering, but those who know the real value and strength of this field will be proud to take up this career path.

To add to it, automotive designers are the ones who challenge engineering to become more fascinating and charming, by pushing it to limits and creating something new at each step.

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1.3 Reasons to Become an Automotive Designer

Creativity, challenging, fulfilling for those with design skills & emotional quotient.

Ahh, that’s a tough one as it depends upon the individual going ahead for this field.

  1. The very first reason is that the automotive design career path will challenge you as an individual. It will make you want to stand out in a team with your design skills; and challenge you to go ahead for the next phase. This will help you to be more and more creative in every step of your work and normal life.
  2. The more creative you are, the more you will be inclined towards this type of field. One day you will be making just a regular scooter and if you perform well, then you might be designing the world’s fastest car or any other marvel in the automotive world.
  3. You will learn about people. You will learn how they live, how they keep up with things and how people perceive things in different ways. This will help you to present your work, any work, to a variety of people even without the fear of failure.
  4. You will understand the value of emotions and feelings. And you will also try to incorporate the same in your proposed designs, so that the end user can relate to it emotionally.

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2. What It Takes to Be an Automotive Designer

2.1 Personality Traits Required/ Preferred

Creativity, patience, love for learning, communication skills, accepting criticism.

All you need is creativity, knowledge of materials and products or objects and hunger for learning new things. You have to be communicative enough because you will meet many people and you have to sell your design or idea to them. And both these tasks involve strong communication skills.

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2.2 Physical Demands

Long working hours, labour intensive at times.

The automotive design career path doesn’t have many physical demands as such. However, it also depends on what role are you playing in a project. For example, if you have the responsibility to get along with the clay modeller and guide him to reach the utmost level of your design idea, then it may require long standing hours or manual labour of sculpting the material. But it won’t hurt you to an extensive level.

2.3 Psychological Demands in the Automotive Design Career Path

Keeping up with tight deadlines at times and dealing with panic situations within the team.

One should be always fresh minded and work calmly, as panic attitude will not help you to achieve your goals. There is a very relatable term to this question, “Good design takes time.” Sometimes, the time is crunched, but you have to pace your work accordingly to get it done on time.

3. How to Build Interest in a Career in Automotive Designing

3.1 Extra-Curricular Activities Recommended

Improve communication & presentation skills, gain knowledge of cars & other vehicles.

One should go as crazy as possible in learning new things. You should have a deep passion towards cars and other automotives you love and you should be willing to work on them in order to make them better than present in all or some aspects.

You should also be good enough in explaining your viewpoints or ideas to other people without hesitation and with full confidence. For this, I recommend you to take part in group discussions, or participate in some public speaking events at your college.

Good designers also need to have the ability to take criticism. So try to learn the habit of listening even it is a cursing phrase or an inappropriate point. You can do this by joining a book club or writing club where people present their ideas and thoughts.

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3.2 Related Hobbies to Take Up

Drawing & sketching, practice color combinations.

Automotive designers need to be creative and have analytical thinking skills. You should play computer games or strategy mobile games, as it will increase your creative power and will also help you in problem solving tasks.

Apart from all of this, you need to learn each and everything that you think is taking you ahead for this field of work. I recommend improving your drawing or sketching skills so you can visualize and represent three-dimensional objects better. You can also learn about colors, different materials and learn some visual presentation skills like PowerPoint, Photoshop, 3DsMax, etc.

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3.3 Related Movies/ TV Shows

In this digital world, nothing is hidden from anyone. There are many design related documentaries and books available on digital media, which you can try. Watch Discovery channel, History TV 18, Nat Geo, Discovery Turbo and other OTTs available on Netflix like Abstract and many others.

3.4 Related Books to Read

The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman is a book I would suggest you to read.

Learn the philosophy of Dieter Rams, how he approached the design of a product and what is the idea behind it. Learn about renowned car designers like Chris Bangle, Bertone, Pininfarina and many others.

4. Life as an Automotive Designer

4.1 Part-Time Options

Yes, freelance or teaching options are possible.

Yes, you can get a chance to work as a freelance designer for any client while working for any company. But this does depend on the terms and conditions set by the company where you are working full time. Certain firms don’t allow their full-time employees to be employed elsewhere.

Apart from this, you can go to any college as a visiting faculty for a particular subject for a short period of time with the help of your current company. As a designer, you can and will find a way to work for anyone in need, you just have to go out and look for it.

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4.2 Traveling Required

Not frequently.

Travelling depends on the requirement of your work or project. It is not that hectic or frequent all the time.

4.3 Average Workday/ What to Expect in the Automotive Design Career Path

A professional in automotive design with 4-5 years of experience can either be a Team Lead or a Junior Designer. An average workday consists of team or client meetings, team-collaboration for project designs, and more.

The day starts with a kick off meeting to have discussions for the previous day’s work updates and go ahead for the present day. The morning schedule can include preps for any scheduled meeting with the client, the senior members or the jury members.

What education is needed to become an automotive designer-profession

If you are a Team Lead, then you will be working and also taking updates and helping out your team members. You will also be giving major presentations to the senior committee. Your responsibility includes dividing work among the team mates and looking for the problems and bottlenecks in the project.

The evening schedule usually depends upon the morning one and generally includes wrapping up the scheduled work and data sharing if any data delivery is scheduled.

5. Future of the Automotive Design Career Path

5.1 Retirement Prospects

No specific retirement age.

According to me, there is no retirement age in design. Companies generally keep old employees to help them in guiding the budding or aspiring designers. Also, you can become a senior faculty member at any university for a subject. In fact, you can also become the Dean of a design school if you want.

If you have a dream of making something, or have a remarkable idea about anything, you can work out that too by building up your own team of handpicked designers. It is all your will where you want to reach and how you want to reach.

5.2 Threats from Automation

Automotive designing can be a boon or a bane to the present vehicles if AI and automation enters the industry completely. It will reduce the human effort of using the digital tools, which will not be a good thing. But designing is a very creative profession. So, a software or any artificial intelligence will not be able to make as good a design as a human mind can make.

5.3 Common Reasons for People to Quit Automotive Design Career Path

Functional role and responsibilities for a professional in India are often the reasons that make designers quit this profession.

Read next:

How to Become an Automotive Designer in India: Salary, Qualification & More

The path of automotive designing mixes creativity & smarts. From top colleges and degrees to jobs and salaries, here’s a complete guide on how to become an Automotive Designer in India.

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