Share this page

Select an icon:

Job Photographs

  • A man is looking at a model of a car.

    Inspecting a scaled-down model of a new design.

  • A woman is sitting at a desk, using a computer.

    Using the internet to research new design ideas.

  • A woman is sitting at a desk, drawing on a piece of paper.

    Making initial rough sketches of a new type of car.

  • A woman is standing, reading a magazine.  There are many magazines on the shelves behind her.

    Looking through journals to keep up to date with current design trends.

  • A woman is sitting at a desk, using a computer.  She is using design software.

    Using CAD to design a wheel.

  • A man and a woman are standing in front of a large screen.  There is an image of a car on the screen.  The man is pointing to the screen.

    Discussing a design issue with a colleague.

  • A man and a woman are inspecting a white car.

    Inspecting a prototype vehicle.

  • A woman is sitting at a desk, using a computer.

    Checking a diary for deadlines - transport designers often work on more than one project at once.

  • Vehicle Designer

Vehicle Designer


As a Vehicle Designer you will design and develop all forms of vehicles. This includes cars, boats and aeroplanes. Before you begin your design, you will need to find out some background information. You'll need to know who is going to use this type of vehicle, which materials are needed to produce it and how much it will cost

Also known as

  • Designer, Transport
  • Industrial Designer, Transport
  • Vehicle Designer
  • Car Designer
  • Aeroplane Designer

Video: - Steve: Aerodynamicist

Work Activities

As a Vehicle Designer you will specialise in the design and development of almost anything that is designed to transport goods or people, across land, over water or through the air.

Many Vehicle Designers work together on large projects, with each concentrating on a particular aspect of the design. In aircraft design, for example, you may concentrate on the landing gear and another Vehicle Designer on the fuselage. Smaller projects may be completed by individual Vehicle Designers or small design teams.

Research will be an important part of your work. You'll need to find out:

  • who will use the vehicle, vessel or craft
  • which materials are needed for production
  • how much it will cost to produce

When you have finished your research, you'll make rough sketches of your design ideas. You'll then turn these into detailed drawings, normally using a computer-aided design (CAD) system, or by using digital modelling software. These can then be used to construct a prototype vehicle, vessel or craft - which you can then test.

Environmental issues are very important - designing new low carbon forms of transport is an exciting and rapidly growing area.

Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.

Personal Qualities and Skills

To become a Vehicle Designer, you need:

  • creative design skills
  • an understanding of technical and production processes
  • good organisation and planning skills
  • good communication, presentation and negotiation skills
  • problem-solving skills
  • to work to deadlines and budgets
  • good research skills
  • to keep up to date with new design developments
  • IT skills

Self-employed or freelance Vehicle Designers will need business and marketing skills.

Pay and Opportunities


The pay rates given below are approximate.

  • Starting: £24,000 - £25,000
  • With experience: £26,500 - £31,000
  • Senior Vehicle Designers earn £33,000 - £35,500

Hours of work

Vehicle Designers usually work 39 hours a week, Monday to Friday. Working hours for self-employed Vehicle Designers may be irregular, depending on the project you are working on. Late finishes and weekend work may be required from time to time, especially as deadlines approach.

Where could I work?

Employers are large firms involved in the production of road, rail, sea or air transport. Other major employers are design consultancies that undertake project work for large firms.

Opportunities for Vehicle Designers occur with employers in towns and cities throughout the UK.


Opportunities occur for Vehicle Designers to become self-employed, working in consultancy and fixed-term contract work.

Where are vacancies advertised?

Vacancies are advertised in design industry magazines/journals, on all the major job boards, on Find a Job, and at Jobcentre Plus.

It's a good idea to build up a network of relevant contacts as not all transport design jobs are advertised. Making speculative job applications can also be effective.

Entry Routes and Training

Entry routes

Most people come into this career following a degree. Subjects such as transport design, or automotive design will be most useful.

Some people get on to degree courses from a Foundation course, HND, HNC or foundation degree.

A great way to get into this career is through an internship. Take a look at our information article 'Internships', for more details.


Some of your training will be on-the-job.

Work Experience

Skills gained as an Assistant in a design studio or workshop or in a design consultancy are valued. Commercial awareness and an understanding of the transport industry are an advantage.

To enter the work or relevant courses, you need to have a portfolio of work showing your ability.


With training and experience, it may be possible to move into managerial positions.


For entry to a relevant degree course, you'll need at least:

  • 2/3 A levels where some courses ask that you have a pass in art or in an art-related subject
  • GCSEs at grade C/4 or above in 5 subjects

For some courses, English and maths passes are needed.

Alternatives to A levels include:

  • BTEC Level 3 qualifications in art and design or 3D design
  • a design Advanced Level Apprenticeship
  • the International Baccalaureate Diploma

Many other qualifications are also accepted so check college/university websites for more details.

To enter any course in art and design, you'll need a portfolio of your work.

Some universities accept the Welsh Baccalaureate as equivalent to 1 A level.

Adult Opportunities

Age limits

It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.


Skills gained as an assistant in a design studio or workshop or in a design consultancy are valued. Commercial awareness and an understanding of the transport industry are an advantage.

To enter the work or relevant courses, you need to have a portfolio of work showing your ability.


If you don't have the qualifications needed to enter your chosen degree or HND course, a college or university Access course (eg, Access to Art and Design) could be the way in. No formal qualifications are usually required, but you should check individual course details.

They can lead to relevant degree/HND courses.

It's also possible to do a part-time Art Foundation course, which leads to a degree or HND course. Higher National Certificate (HNC) courses are also available part-time, often in the evenings and/or in the daytime.

Universities and colleges of higher education (HE) will usually consider applications from candidates who don't meet their usual entry requirements, especially those with experience in arts, crafts or design. You should check the admissions policy of individual universities and HE colleges.

Staffordshire University offers a degree in Transport Design by part-time study.

Further Information

Apprenticeships: Get In. Go Far

National Apprenticeship Service (NAS)

Tel: 0800 015 0400



Skills Development Scotland - Modern Apprenticeships

Tel: 0800 9178000



Chartered Society of Designers (CSD)



Getting into Art & Design Courses

Author: James Burnett Publisher: Trotman


Staffordshire University

Address: College Road, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire ST4 2DE

Tel: 01782 294000


Your Future in the Boating Industry

Publisher: British Marine Federation (BMF)


Careers Wales - Welsh Apprenticeships

Tel: 0800 028 4844



Hiive is the online professional network for creative people.


Croeso i Gyrfa Cymru

Dewiswch iaith


Welcome to Careers Wales

Please select your language