Career Guide

Automotive Engineer

Ben Maples  · Oct 28th 2020

Are you obsessed with all things, cars, motorbikes and transport?

Car being taken apart. All components, engine, seat, screws, nuts and bolts and seats etc.

You might have what it takes to work in the motor vehicle industry. If you love getting your hands dirty to look under the bonnet, why not read our career guide for automotive engineers below?

Automotive Engineer Career Guide

What is the automotive industry?

First, let’s define automotive. It consists of a wheeled motor vehicle, from cars to motorbikes, that are used for transportation. The term describes a vehicle that is typically used on roads and to transport people rather than goods. Cars became popular across the globe during the 20th century, and we now have a broad range of companies involved in the manufacture, development, design and selling of motor vehicles.

What is automotive engineering?

A car engineer is someone who makes and designs vehicles, from cars and buses to motorcycles and trucks. They also create and develop their engineering systems. While working as an automotive engineer, you’ll produce new products, modify existing ones and solve problems. Someone who works in car engineering will need to be able to stick within a budget, tick everything off a standard checklist and hold the consumer at the heart of the design. Jobs in the automotive industry tend to specialise in particular areas, from production, innovation and research and development. You can also end up working in a specific area of the industry, including engine and structural design.

What do mechanical engineers do?

Auto engineering careers have an array of tasks they need to complete daily and depending on your role and current project, they may change slightly. However, most jobs in automotive research, design and choose materials for a vehicle before building prototypes and testing their performance. They will need to solve problems that come up, whether it’s to do with electrical systems or pneumatic principles.

During the process, a motor engineer will test components for their safety and weaknesses and ensure health and safety is at the forefront of the design. They’ll need to consider government emission guidelines, customer needs and budget restrictions.

Those in automobile engineering may prepare cost, material and deadline estimates and write reports and design specs. Also, supervising the installation, inspecting the result and adjusting systems afterwards may be part of the role. Senior automotive careers might be in charge of a team, manage multiple projects, schedules and quality control. Whereas, other automobile engineers are more likely to communicate with suppliers, address supply chain issues and test-drive vehicles.

Automotive Engineer Career

How to become a car designer?

What education do you need to be a car designer? The most common route is to undertake an automotive engineering degree. There are other subjects relevant to automotive engineering courses, like mechanical engineering, production and manufacturing engineering and electrical engineering. Unfortunately, you will need an undergraduate degree in one of these to work within automotive design jobs. Suppose you don’t have an undergraduate qualification in a related subject, you can then study a postgraduate degree instead.

A Master’s is not essential for the job, but it shows your commitment to training and knowledge for particular roles. If you’re searching for automotive engineering universities and their courses, it’d be beneficial if courses were accredited by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE), a professional body. By doing so, you’ll be able to achieve chartered or incorporated engineer further down the line. If you have an HND or foundation degree as the only form of education, you can work as a technician, but you’ll need to study further to work as an engineer.

What qualifications do you need to be a car mechanic?

Auto mechanic courses are different, with most car mechanics having at least five GCSE’s in English and Maths or relevant A Levels. Most take on an apprenticeship to learn the skills while earning on the job, before being qualified as a mechanic or setting up ta graage.

Where to find motorsport work experience and automotive graduate schemes?

If you’re dreaming of car designer jobs it’d be a good idea to get some relevant experience to gain insight into the profession and what happens day-to-day. You can either apply for a work placement by contacting individual companies and organisations, take on an internship or study a four-year sandiwch course where you have a 12-month placement as part of your degree. Large coprporations offer work experience for jobs in the car industry, so it’s best to get in touch with them first.

Next, you can check jobwebsites advertising jobs involgin motorbikes or other vehicles and contact them for more information. There are also many automotive engineering graduate schemes available if you have finished studying. If Formula One or Motorsport is more your dream goal, you can find out what initiatives and volunteering opportunties they have.

Not sure where to look for jobs or work experience? Try car companies, manufacturiing businesses, specialist companies within luxury or sports cars and public transport. You can also reach out test labs, design houses, fuel companies and engineering consultancies. Additionally, comonenet suppliers, prepartion specialists and safety equipment manufacturers are also a good bet.

Automotive Engineer

What skills are used in jobs for mechanical engineers?

Jobs with an engineering degree require individuals to have an attention to detail, accuracy and be able to work within a team. Problem-solving, communication and analytical skills are crucial, as well as numeracy, technical and time-management skills.

Automotive careers need candidates who have expert understanding of design and production, motor vehicle engineering and all the components. Organisation, working to deadlines and within a budget are key for the role, alongside awareness for the industry. Motoring jobs are ideal for someone with a genuine interest of the sector who wants to keep up to date with the latest technology.

What is the average car engineer salary?

Most people start out earning around £20,000, with the opportunity of it being as high as £28,000. After gaining experience, and depending on your role, for example a Formula One engineer salary could then be between £30,000 and £45,000. Senior positions can take home more than £60,000. Salaries can vary depending on work experience, employer and training level. Some organisations offer benefits alongside a wage, including pension schemes, discounts of purchases, bonuses and health insurance.

What can I do with an engineering degree?

Jobs in the automotive industry are crying out for individuals with an engineering degree. There is a plethora of career options, from consultancies, project management, supervisory roles or general management positions. Once you gain IEng status, you can run the daily management of the production, and after chartered status (CEng) with the Institute of automotive engineers, you can get involved with the research and planning of ideas and methods. It’s the perfect industry for anyone searching for jobs involving cars.

Mechanical engineering prospects also include working with specialist roles, from environment design, creative design, or health and safety. Also, individuals may choose to move to the education side of the career and teach at universities once they have a Master’s or PhD. After gaining experience, automotive engineers can work on significant projects, become a consultant or look for automotive jobs abroad.

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