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Motorsport engineer

Motorsport engineers design, build and test racing cars and bikes.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £18,000 to £60,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: Variable per week

1. Entry requirements

You’ll need experience in vehicle engineering or a related area, like component manufacturing, electronic controls or mechanics.

You’ll also need an engineering foundation degree, HND or degree, like:

  • automotive 
  • electronic
  • mechanical
  • motorsport

The Motorsport Industry Association (MIA) recommends you choose a course that include work placements with manufacturers and suppliers, and volunteering at racing events as a marshal. 

It may also be useful to get involved with schemes like the Formula Student programme or Greenpower

You could also get into this job through an apprenticeship.

The Motor Sports Association and British Motorsports Marshals Club have more information on racing and marshalling.

The MIA and Your Future in Automotive have more information on becoming a motorsport engineer.

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • excellent problem-solving skills
  • the ability to analyse and interpret data
  • the ability to prioritise and plan effectively
  • the ability to work under pressure to deadlines

3. What you'll do

As a motorsport engineer working in design, testing or production, your day-to-day duties may include:

  • assessing new ideas by looking at performance, strength, costs and safety
  • designing prototypes with computer-aided design (CAD) software
  • testing components and bodywork 
  • testing working models on the track 
  • building production models and carrying out quality control checks
  • 'finishing' vehicles with the team's colours and sponsorship logos

As a motorsport engineer working in racing, your day-to-day duties may include:

  • setting up vehicles to suit track and weather conditions
  • monitoring engine speed and other data during races
  • fine tuning the vehicle and sending technical instructions to the driver or rider
  • carrying out ‘after-tests’ on vehicles after a race to look for signs of damage

4. Salary

Starter: £18,000 to £22,000

Experienced: £25,000 to £40,000

Highly Experienced: up to £60,000

Senior engineers working for a manufacturer’s racing team usually negotiate their salary.

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You’ll work long and irregular hours, and will often have to travel..

During a season, you’ll arrive at a circuit several days before an event to prepare. 

You may also travel out of season to circuit-test cars and bikes.

As a design, test or production engineer, you’ll be based at one site, although you may still work long hours.

6. Career path and progression

With experience, you could specialise in a particular engineering field, like engine transmission or electronics. 

You could also progress to test or workshop manager, chief engineer, technical coordinator or technical manager.

You could also work towards incorporated or chartered engineer status by applying to the Engineering Council.

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Last updated: 08 December 2016