Car Designer jobs(Also known as Automotive design engineer, Design director, Stylist, Coachworker)
A car designer is responsible for the exterior styling and overall aesthetic values for a motor car in current development, or for non-production concept models. The act of crafting an overall design aesthetic for a motor car is more challenging now than ever. Due to the ever-increasing demands in terms of crash safety legislation and multi-lateral market-specific legislative requirements, the job of the car designer is to manage and implement these requirements, whilst still delivering a design which is appealing. The overall design direction depends on the type of vehicle being worked upon; it is not necessary for every car to be “beautiful.” For example, in the family SUV sector, buyers look for innovation, flexibility and a subconscious perspective of utilitarian appeal; a six-seat family car which is very pretty may not sell, because buyers may believe their purchase criteria are not being met by the overall design theme. It is a complex area which differs from company to company, and model to model. Some designers specialise and stick to a certain sector, although most are flexible enough to move between marques and design a whole model range. The designer’s main job is to engineer a general theme for an ongoing design portfolio in line with the manufacturer’s “corporate look”. Ford, for example, use a theme called Kinetic Design, which is based on the idea of a motionless object looking as if it is moving. It is a thesis which affects all of their cars, from the tough, sporty Focus ST, all the way through to the family-focussed 4x4 people-carrier. It is the “family look”, and the car designer must deliver a series of design ideas within this given brief. The designer will use a small quantity of sketch ideas in the first instance, but most of the work is completed using computer-aided modelling and eventually, one-eighth scale physical clay modelling.
SalaryThe car designer, upon successful graduation from university, will need to be prepared to go where the work is, and in the automotive industry, that means looking internationally. First year placements can be unpaid, although remuneration becomes favourable on completion of successful placement. In the UK, the average salary is estimated to be around £50,000. Rates for second and third-year designers with automotive giants in the US range from $43,500 to $57,391. This does not just cover US-based manufacturers (General Motors, Ford, Chrysler), but also international makers with US-based design houses (Mazda and Volvo being two examples). The reason this is relatively unfavourable compared to the UK is probably due to the fact that UK manufacturers tend to focus on niche sports or prestige markets, and not the mainstream “consumer” vehicles.
- Ability to interpret concept brief and overall idea
- Colour development, thesis portrayal and mastering
- Coordinate with headquarters on the development of new products
- Work directly with the research and development technical team
- Identify new business opportunities through direct design ideas
- Work with Sales and marketing to identify programme opportunities
- Ensure that product developments are completed in a timely manner
- Knowledge of product sector and marketing techniques relevant to its sale
- Assist in creating advanced design presentations
- Ability to convey concept and finished design in various forms (graphic or electronic)
- Ability to travel when necessary
QualificationsIt is essential to have completed a design degree to be considered for this highly specialised design role. The candidate will need to select an education centre which will deliver the appropriate course; some focus on engineered design, whereas others are entirely CAD-based. Candidates need to consider the area on which they would like to focus after completion. Some schools, particularly in the Midlands, have strong links to manufacturers, which is a major boon to the graduate. Before applying for a Transport Design course, the candidate will need an A-level in art or design, and be expected to demonstrate a high competence in 2D presentation and drawing in order to be considered for the course. An A-level in a second language is a huge advantage upon graduation, and some designers opt to add this to their package of university schooling.
- Ability to be creative under pressure and work quickly
- Ability to deliver innovative concepts within established limitations and parameters
- Understanding of eventual project aim and sales-orientated goal for the project
- Broad understanding of automotive design principles, marketing and budgeting
- Excellent communication skills across a broad spectrum of platforms
- High level of competence with Computer Aided Design software
- Be able to deliver convincing presentations
- Knowledge of at least one other language is very important to avoid limiting placement options
- Be able to work as part of a team or on own initiative