Transporation Design job outlook?

Postby HWC588 » August 14th, 2011, 6:26 pm


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Hey all, recently tossed around the idea of going to Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA. I already got into the school for Fall 2011 but I'm a little weary of the field itself post graduation. I know the school itself is a solid choice, but I can't get over the price per term which is climbing in at almost $17k! I will be taking out student loans, but when all is said and done, I will owe back right around $220,000 with interest, cost of living, supplies, etc.

Cars and design have always been a passion of mine, and I had a blast putting together a kick ass portfolio for school. I do question a couple things about the school and the major though. I know there were some major controversies about the last president and what he's done to the school's reputation (letting anyone in to get more money for his personal agenda) and from what i've heard, they are still more/less letting the first 20 applicants get into the school. Obviously they are not going to let ANYONE into the trans major, but I've heard its gotten to the point where people who know almost nothing about cars make it up to 4-5th term which is kind of frightening. I've even stopped by campus and talked to a couple first and second term kids and saw their work....not impressed with the talent they are letting in. Which leads me to believe they are letting anyone in to get as much money as they can because it is obviously not cheap to run a private institution/ pay faculty...

Seconds, looking past the school, I know this is a tough field to break into. From what i've heard, out of the 12-15 graduates from ACCD, only a handful start working in the industry, and even then it could be designing door handles or steering wheels, starting you out at $45-50,000 USD, which isn't bad by any means, but pretty much puts you in the poverty line in California because after taxes, a single male will probably walk away with 38k and you have a 220k loan to repay. I've talked to guidance councelers about my concerns and they've told me things like "well, whats a $220,000 loan when you get out making $80-90k a year, you'll pay it off in no time" which I kind of :lol: at.

So is this a wise career path to follow? I am only 21 years old and I don't feel like any of the guidance counclers are of any help and i'd rather get actual input from someone in the same boat or someone who has gone through the program/field and has any advice for an aspiring designer.

Re: Transporation Design job outlook?

Postby choto » August 14th, 2011, 8:36 pm

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I was in a somewhat similar situation 4 years ago when I was trying to decide between DAAP and Art Center, I remember calculating my expected loan amount from Art Center, and benchmarking salaries through Coroflot it would have taken somewhere between 12-15 years to pay off if I was really aggressive whereas my expected loan amount from DAAP (with in-state) was a fraction of the time, maybe 4-5 years if even that.

While Art Center is a phenomenal school that puts out great designers, as someone who's also paying their way through college themselves it was a no brainer which school to choose.

220K is a massive financial burden to take on, but at the end of the day it's not an insurmountable amount to pay off depending on what you think your earning potential would be, and how comfortable you are living in debt.

Can't really give any insight on the car industry, I've heard mixed things from people who've worked in it. From what I've heard, at least at the entry level, it seems like it's a bit of a machine that spits out a lot of burnt out designers after a couple of years, but once you make it past the hazing experience I think it's somewhat more lucrative and less stressful.

Re: Transporation Design job outlook?

Postby HWC588 » August 14th, 2011, 9:48 pm


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Hey there, thanks for the reply.
I think what it pretty much comes down to is a simple cost/benefit scenario, especially in this economy. :? $220,000 is a ton of debt to go into, and without the right job would be extremely difficult to pay back and still live a normal life. I know a lot of people would go on and worry about things like this after graduation but unfortunately I cannot bring myself to that mindset :(

Re: Transporation Design job outlook?

Postby JDiephuis » August 15th, 2011, 1:24 am


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Good to see that you are a rational person and that you can think ahead. As an Art Center alum (Transportation 2001) and as a designer with 10 years experience in Automotive Design; I can tell you that an ACCD degree in Automotive Design will not guarantee you a job, but it can open doors for you. However, the industry as a whole is suffering immensely now from the global economic problems and as a result many studios are either shutting completely or are re-organizing to use fewer staff workers and are instead hiring contractors. Add to this situation a flood of talented/experienced designers hungry to keep their positions afloat in this emerging and smaller industry, and you can begin to understand what may be like for a soon to be graduate. Even the Chinese manufacturers can now afford to be selective. I don't mean to discourage you, but $220k would buy you a very decent house :) Also, it is possible to get into automotive design through other routes....if you are persistent enough.

Re: Transporation Design job outlook?

Postby mo-i » August 15th, 2011, 6:22 am

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HWC 588,

you are asking all the right questions at the right time. Now you gotta live
with the answers...

Yours mo-i

P.S.: Talking to a guy with a screen name like that feels like talking to your
inlet manyfold.
I am not young enough to know everything.
Oscar Wilde

Re: Transporation Design job outlook?

Postby tarngerine » August 15th, 2011, 8:14 am

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^ And also you have to live under snow for 90% of the year. After going to college in Pittsburgh, I can tell you that the weather will play a profound role in your studies. One of the reasons many are drawn to ACCD is because of its location in the hills/greens. There's plenty to be inspired by.

But that is a heavy debt. Any possibility of financial aid?

Re: Transporation Design job outlook?

Postby BARTOK24 » August 15th, 2011, 8:59 am


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FYI, Umea is only offering free tuition for students of the EU. I think this year was the last year for international students to receive free tuition. So if you are a citizen of the EU, I would go to Umea. I know one person who graduated from there and is now working for Ferrari.

$220,000 is not justifiable in my opinion. That school is gouging its students because it can. Only doctors should have to pay that much, but only because they make that much when they graduate.

The less debt you have, that happier you will be.

Re: Transporation Design job outlook?

Postby engio » August 15th, 2011, 9:02 am


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ChrisB wrote:F**k Art Center! Go to Umea in Sweden: they have the comparable facilities and industry contacts. Best thing is that tuition fee is zero, full subsidised by the Swedish government! You just have fork out the living costs.


I don't think that is true any longer for international students. Tuition being zero I mean, the rest is true.

Regarding weather: if you don't like the snow you can spend even more time in the studio with no regrets about sitting inside when you could go surfing. 90% was quite an exaggeration thou, it's actually closer to 50% :wink:

Re: Transporation Design job outlook?

Postby HWC588 » August 15th, 2011, 10:13 am


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JDiephuis wrote:Good to see that you are a rational person and that you can think ahead. As an Art Center alum (Transportation 2001) and as a designer with 10 years experience in Automotive Design; I can tell you that an ACCD degree in Automotive Design will not guarantee you a job, but it can open doors for you. However, the industry as a whole is suffering immensely now from the global economic problems and as a result many studios are either shutting completely or are re-organizing to use fewer staff workers and are instead hiring contractors. Add to this situation a flood of talented/experienced designers hungry to keep their positions afloat in this emerging and smaller industry, and you can begin to understand what may be like for a soon to be graduate. Even the Chinese manufacturers can now afford to be selective. I don't mean to discourage you, but $220k would buy you a very decent house :) Also, it is possible to get into automotive design through other routes....if you are persistent enough.


Thank you for your reply JDiephuis. Your words weren't taken as discouragement, I like to get as much insight as I can before plunging into something like this. Right now I'm kind of leaning away from the school mainly because of its price of tuition and the job field in general. Product design sounds like a better route, and with that more doors open up as far as schooling goes....and what do you know, if you google product design jobs, you actually get results! I'm guessing getting a job in transportation design is all word of mouth because I can barely find any listings online.

Please don't take this the wrong way, but I'm curious, how much does the industry pays for someone with ten years exp?

Re: Transporation Design job outlook?

Postby dkorr » August 15th, 2011, 12:23 pm


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there's a lot of talented trans-designers looking for work->


http://www.cardesignnews.com/site/desig ... tMode=view

Re: Transporation Design job outlook?

Postby HWC588 » August 20th, 2011, 9:20 pm


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Thanks for the input, anyone else have a say on this?


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