What Does an Automotive Engineer Do? - Job Description & Education Requirements

Learn about the educational requirements and work experience you need to make it in automotive engineering, and find out how much you could earn working in this competitive and exciting field. Schools offering Engineering & Technology Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career at a Glance

Automotive engineers are at the forefront of making vehicles safer, more efficient, more environmentally friendly and faster. Working with the latest technology, they develop and improve anything from passenger cars and motorcycles to trucks and buses, solve mechanical challenges and help bring the newest designs to the market.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Mechanical engineering, automotive engineering
Key Skills Complex problem solving, critical thinking, analytical thinking, communication, judgment and decision making
Job Growth (2016-2026) 9% (mechanical engineers)*
Median Annual Wage (2017) $85,880 (mechanical engineers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Do Automotive Engineers Do?

Automotive engineers use computer technology to develop designs for vehicle parts, such as engines or transmission systems. They plan manufacturing processes, build and test components and predict the behavior of parts in various situations with the help of computer modeling software.

As an automotive engineer, you could be responsible for improving the safety and speed of vehicles, or come up with completely new solutions for making cars more efficient and environmentally friendly.

There is plenty of teamwork involved, as most automotive engineers specialize in an area and collaborate with a large team of fellow engineers and other professionals to develop and improve vehicles.

What Education Do I Need to Become an Automotive Engineer?

To become an automotive engineer, you need to complete a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering or, if available, automotive engineering. While these specialized automotive engineering degrees are still relatively rare, an increasing number of options are springing up around the world due to the popularity of this type of program.

Your education doesn't stop there, though. Due to rapid technological advances, automotive engineers have to be open to continued learning to stay abreast of the latest developments.

Do I Need Additional Experience?

You should immerse yourself in the field and gain experience in the industry while studying, as it will increase your employment chances once you have graduated.

You could join an automotive club to be among fellow car enthusiasts and learn everything you can about cars. Another crucial step in getting a foot in the door is an internship with an automotive company. Large corporations such as Daimler and Bosch, as well as many smaller companies, offer internship programs for suitable applicants.

Automotive engineering is a competitive field, so to ensure you are awarded an internship, make sure you stand out with good marks and extracurricular activities that demonstrate your commitment.

What Key Skills Do I Need?

You need to be good at mathematics and physics and enjoy complex problem solving. As an automotive engineer, you will be faced with many mechanical challenges and questions and need to apply your background knowledge and critical thinking to solve them.

You also need a knack for design and enjoy working on computers, as much of your engineering tasks will be done with the help of specialized software.

Budgeting is another key skill, as you have to review the costs of potential design and engineering solutions and evaluate their validity.

As you will be working as part of a large team, you also need good communication and teamwork skills.

What Income and Job Growth Can I Expect?

In 2017, the median wage for mechanical engineers was $85,880, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Demand for mechanical engineers, including automotive engineers, is expected to rise 9% from 2016 to 2026, which is in line with the average for all occupations, per BLS data.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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