Automotive Engineering

If you enjoy mechanics and you've ever thought of designing the perfect automobile, you might be interested in the field of automotive engineering. Read on to learn more about education requirements, areas of specialization, earnings and employment outlook for automotive engineers.

Is Automotive Engineering for Me?

Career Overview

Automotive engineering is a specialization of mechanical engineering and incorporates the elements of safety, mechanical and electrical engineering in the design and manufacturing of automobiles. While the automotive engineering field is associated with a number of career options, you'll need at least a bachelor's degree in automotive or mechanical engineering, automotive technology or a related field, such as electrical or manufacturing engineering, to get started. Master's degree programs in automotive engineering are also available.

Areas of Specialization

As an automotive engineer, you could be involved in the overall design of trucks and cars, or specialize in vehicle electronics, manufacturing, materials or power systems. You could also design automotive components and systems, like brakes and fuel systems, or test auto parts for durability and performance.

Employment and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of mechanical engineers, such as automotive engineers, was expected to increase 5% from 2012-2022. This represents slower-than-average employment growth compared to all other occupations. In June 2014, PayScale.com reported that automotive engineers earned a median annual salary of $69,928.

How Do I Work in Automotive Engineering?

Education

A bachelor's degree program in automotive engineering or mechanical engineering can include topics in basic engineering principles and automotive technology. Prior experience in advanced engineering math, as well as previous training in the field, will most likely be needed to enter an on-campus or online master's degree program in automotive engineering. Areas of specialization might include design, performance or vehicle production.

In a master's degree program in automotive engineering, you may study the influences on human behavior while learning about auto system and engine gears and parts. You might also complete a final project or participate in an internship. In choosing your program, you might want to give special consideration to those approved by ABET, which can help you qualify for the Professional Engineer (PE) exam.

Licensing

According to the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying, although not always required to obtain a position as an automotive engineer, a designation as a professional engineer may help you become more competitive in the job market. A PE license may also open the door to a higher salary, as reported by the organization (ncees.org).

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