Transport designer
Social Sciences

Transport designers work to design, innovate and develop vehicles be it on land, air and sea based on the requirements of transport users. This could be aircraft, cars, boats or any other type of transport. They can also work on items associated with travel like road signs. Transport designers often work as a team, individually being responsible for different areas, if the project is large though. They can also be employed to work on something as an individual or as part of a small group of designers.

This field is changing due to emphasis on environmentally friendly transport options.

Work Activities

  • Research the project fully before starting to design, including materials and costings.
  • Analyse data in order to maximise the project.
  • Roughly draw the design before technically drawing this up often using computer aided design package.
  • Oversee the making of a prototype made from the finished drawings
  • Oversee testing of the prototype vehicle
  • Change the design based on testing results.
  • Providing consultation and advice
  • Salaries vary with the responsibilities undertaken and the industry worked in.
  • The job is usually office based though there could be opportunities to see prototypes being tested.
  • With emerging markets, there are many opportunities to work abroad as well as in the UK. Most designers in this field spend time abroad when working for multinational companies.
  • Normal office hours are usually worked, though there is a requirement to work longer if there is a forthcoming deadline which could mean evenings and weekends.
  • Promotion is in to management of a team of designers or consultancy work.
  • Also called transporter designer, vehicle designer, industrial designer, designer (transport).

Personal Qualities and Skills

Key skills for transport designers

  • Ability to draw and design
  • Creative, innovative ability
  • Competency with IT and able to work with computer aided design packages
  • A technical mind with an aptitude for problem solving
  • Knowledge of engineering principles
  • Good technical knowledge and understanding of production systems and processes
  • Research and planning skills
  • Able to work under pressure to deadlines
  • Organisation and prioritising skills
  • Able to work within and manage a budget
  • Communication both verbally and in writing.
  • Be able to present ideas to clients and management
  • Keep abreast of changes in design and the industry.

Pay And Opportunities

Typical employers of transport designers

Transport designers can be self-employed/employed. 17% work part time and 45% are consultants or are self-employed.

Salaries can be low, with university placements and unpaid work placements common. It is important to keep focused on the long-term salary. Experience within the design industry and commercial experience are highly valued.

Vacancies are advertised in industry periodicals, online jobsites and in local/national newspapers. Networking is very important as some vacancies get filled through word of mouth.


Qualifications and training required

Transport designers are usually qualified to degree level in subjects like transport design or automotive design. These courses can be combined with engineering and can be either BA, BSc or BEng depending on the focus of the course. requirements required by university will reflect this focus with BA courses asking for art and design qualifications and BEng asking for maths, physics or a technical subject. You may have to show a portfolio of design work.

Speaking a foreign language is a big asset as working for a large company can involve working overseas.

There will be specialist training on the job and a requirement that you commit to continuous professional development. There is the opportunity to progress to becoming a chartered designer which is a 5-stage process with registration. To continue with chartered status, you would need to evidence your competencies every year.

Search for...

Degree Explorer

The Degree Explorer helps you plan for your future! Match your interests to university subjects and explore each recommendation to find out what suits you.

Get started

Register today

Sign up to access to use your dashboard and receive extra advice in your inbox

Sign up