What does an automotive engineer do?

Would you make a good automotive engineer? Take our career test and find your match with over 800 careers.

Take the free career test Learn more about the career test

What is an automotive engineer?

Are you interested in developing and designing vehicles? And are you a natural problem solver? You may want to consider entering the world of automotive engineering!

Automotive engineers bring new and sophisticated technologies to life in the area of mobility. They research, design, and develop within a variety of areas, such as safety and security, visual esthetics, and

Automotive engineers work in every area of the industry, such as the look and feel of vehicles, and the safety and security of new forms of transport. While there is, of course, a focus to make cars reach high speeds, the modern day engineer needs to consider future sustainability and wider integration of advancing connected technologies.

The work of an automotive engineer breaks down into three categories:

Design Research and Development Production

What does an automotive engineer do?

Automotive engineering, along with aerospace engineering and naval architecture, is a branch of vehicle engineering, incorporating elements of mechanical, electrical, electronic, software, and safety engineering as applied to the design, manufacture and operation of motorcycles, automobiles, and trucks and their respective engineering subsystems. It also includes modification of vehicles. Manufacturing domain deals with the creation and assembling the whole parts of automobiles is also included in it. The automotive engineering field is research -intensive and involves direct application of mathematical models and formulas. The study of automotive engineering is to design, develop, fabricate, and test vehicles or vehicle components from the concept stage to production stage. Production, development, and manufacturing are the three major functions in this field.

Automotive engineers are involved in the design, manufacture, distribution, marketing, sales and after-sales care of cars (including racing cars), motorbikes and other commercial vehicles. Engineers will work on the aesthetics and technical performance of these vehicles and, increasingly, the electronics and software involved with modern vehicles.

Ask yourself the following questions in evaluating your potential to become an automotive engineer:

Are you interested in motor vehicles and how they work? Do you communicate well with others and work productively in a team environment? Are you comfortable leading and motivating others? Are you able to multi-task and meet deadlines? Are you willing to constantly learn new things?

Automotive engineers are involved in the design, manufacture, distribution, marketing, sales and after-sales care of cars (including racing cars), motorbikes and other commercial vehicles. Engineers will work on the aesthetics and technical performance of these vehicles and, increasingly, the electronics and software involved with modern vehicles.

Responsibilities of the job typically include:

Automotive engineers are concerned with the development of passenger cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles or off-road vehicles. They do one or more of the following:

Design new products or modify existing ones Troubleshoot and solve engineering problems Plan and design manufacturing processes Automotive engineers must apply their engineering skills in a commercial way because their innovations and solutions must be effective and profitable. Their typical responsibilities include:

Researching, designing, developing and producing vehicles and components Preparing cost estimates and design specifications Preparing plans and drawings Analyzing energy, environmental and safety aspects of the planned project Predicting vehicle or component behavior under different conditions using computerized models Developing testing procedures Investigating product failures Analyzing, interpreting and condensing technical data into reports or presentations Supervise technical staff Working closely with other types of engineers, such as civil, electrical, aerospace, chemical and industrial Working with professionals from other occupational fields, such as marketing and legal

assessing project requirements agreeing and negotiating project budgets, timescales and specifications with clients and managers developing and implementing test procedures building prototypes of components to carry out tests on organizing and carrying out tests, eg to check whether engines will work in different conditions, such as high temperatures interpreting and analyzing results and data sourcing vehicle components and selecting the best materials to use providing technical advice and answering queries from clients using specialist computer modelling software to produce designs making improvements to vehicles in response to customer feedback investigating and solving problems, eg mechanical failures working closely with suppliers writing reports and documentation giving presentations undertaking relevant research supervising junior staff

automotive-engineers have distinct personalities. Think you might match up? Take the free career test to find out if automotive engineer is one of your top career matches. Take the free test now Learn more about the career test

How to become an automotive engineer

Any pre-engineering student should have a strong background in advanced calculus, physics and chemistry to succeed at the collegiate level. Good grades and a high level of hands-on experience at the undergraduate level are important to landing a job after graduation. Because vehicles today are designed and developed in a virtual world and are basically “computers on wheels,” it is a real advantage to have a strong appreciation of computer science.

Very few universities and colleges in the United States offer bachelor’s degrees in automotive engineering. Consequently, many students go into mechanical engineering because automotive engineering is a specialty of mechanical engineering and much of the coursework is the same. However, there are some mechanical engineering schools that offer undergraduate courses that cover diesel engine theory, automotive electronics and automotive power systems.

At the master’s degree and Phd levels, students can concentrate on specific areas, such as:

Automotive mechanical functions Automotive systems studies Hybrid electric cars Students should choose a graduate engineering program that will not only enhance their education but will also help them to lead, innovate and manage in a global economy. Automotive engineers with graduate degrees are in high demand by automotive manufacturers and suppliers.

There are routes into the profession for both graduates and school leavers. Graduates will need a degree in a relevant subject such as automotive, mechanical or electrical engineering, production and manufacturing engineering, engineering design or physics.

Students are learning everything starting from the components, design, dynamics, control, stability, and also testing.

Entry into the profession is also possible through an apprenticeship. Vehicle technician apprenticeships are available at intermediate or advanced level, and you can choose to specialise in light or heavy vehicles. Some advanced and higher apprenticeships in automotive engineering are available at larger automotive companies.

Achieving chartered (CEng) status with the Engineering Council can help to demonstrate your professionalism and commitment to your field. To become chartered, you will need an accredited bachelors degree in engineering or technology, plus an appropriate masters degree (MEng) or doctorate (EngD) accredited by a professional engineering institution such as the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE).You will also be eligible with an integrated MSc.

What is the workplace of an automotive engineer like?

While most automotive engineers are employed by vehicle manufacturers, other employers include:

tyre manufacturers specialist vehicle design companies research/test laboratories motor sport teams oil and fuel companies suppliers

Self-employment via consultancy and contract work is possible for individuals with several years’ relevant experience.