Automotive engineer

Automotive engineers design, develop, test and build cars and motorbikes.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £20,000 to £45,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

You’ll usually need a qualification like an HNC, HND, foundation degree or degree, before starting a 1 to 2 year company training scheme. Relevant subjects include:

  • mechanical engineering
  • electrical or electronic engineering
  • design engineering
  • manufacturing engineering
  • automotive engineering
Courses with work placements or an internship are especially useful.

You could also get into this job through a higher or degree apprenticeship.

Autocity has more information on becoming an automotive engineer.

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • a creative approach to solving problems
  • excellent maths and IT skills
  • the ability to analyse and interpret data
  • excellent technical knowledge
  • good communication and presentation skills
  • the ability to prioritise and plan well
  • the ability to work to budgets and deadlines

3. What you'll do

You could specialise in any stage of the motor manufacturing process, from the initial vehicle designs through to the final production stages.

You might work on:

  • body, chassis and engine systems
  • electrical and electronic instrumentation and control systems
  • thermodynamics, aerodynamics and fluid mechanics
  • fuel technology and emissions

You’ll work in one of the following areas:

  • design – turning ideas into blueprints for development and testing, taking into account safety, cost-effectiveness, environmental impact and look
  • development – building and testing prototypes using computer simulations and physical models to assess components' strengths, weaknesses, performance and safety
  • production – planning the production run, including redesigning machine tools, equipment and processes to make new parts, monitoring costs and production schedules, and overseeing quality control

4. Salary

Starter: £20,000 to £26,000

Experienced: £30,000 to £40,000

Highly Experienced: £45,000 or more

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You’ll usually work 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. As a production engineer, you may have to work shifts.

You could be based in an office, at a research facility or at a manufacturing plant.

6. Career path and progression

With experience, you could progress to senior engineer roles, project team management, general management or consultancy.

Last updated: 03 October 2016