What does an Automotive Engineer do?

What does an Automotive Engineer do?

Without any doubt, the automotive industry is experiencing numerous changes that open the door to great job opportunities. This article will explore one of them, automotive engineering, with the hope of assisting young aspirants to clarify any doubt they may have regarding this interesting career.


What is Automotive Engineering?


Automotive engineering is a branch of vehicle engineering that focuses on designing, developing, and manufacturing motorcycles, automobiles, and trucks. Automobile engineers’ knowledge allows them to also design, develop, and manufacture automotive components as well as perform automotive safety-related testing. 


Duties of Automotive Engineers


Depending on their specialization, automotive engineers responsibilities may include:


  • Vehicle Design: this specialization involves responsibilities such as materials selection, test results analysis, costs analysis, prototype design, design software management, vehicle enhancements, and more.
  • Automobile Production: automotive engineers working in the production stage usually work overseeing quality control, safety regulations endorsement, production optimization, manufacturing process management, production software management, overseeing inventory and manufacturing equipment optimization, and more. 
  • Vehicle Component Design: similar to vehicle design, this specialization entails using designing software, selecting optimal materials, data analysis, prototype designing, vehicle components testing, components optimizations/enhancements, creating/designing new components, and more.
  • Automotive Safety: this is an interesting area of specialization focused on vehicle safety that involves crash testing, safety components testing, and overall vehicle safety optimizations.


Regardless of the specialization path, most automotive engineers’ job responsibilities include writing detailed reports, different levels of managing/leadership, using specialized software, and data analysis.

What Salary Can You Expect As An Automobile Engineer?


According to PayScale, U.S. based automotive engineers can expect an average total compensation (that includes tips, bonuses, and overtime) ranging from $66k to $97k. As in any other profession, that salary is based on the level of experience and related degrees/specializations you may have. 


  • Less than 1 year of experience: rookie engineers usually earn a salary of $66k a year.
  • 1-4 years of experience: early career automotive engineers can expect an average salary of $72k a year.
  • 5-9 years of experience: mid-career engineers are expected to earn $79k a year on average.
  • 10-19 years of experience: experienced automobile engineers usually earn $90k a year.
  • Over 20 years of experience: senior engineers can expect salaries over $97k a year.


What Skills You Should Have?


If you are considering studying this amazing career then you should be aware that it involves proficiency in several aspects related to other fields such as mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, manufacturing engineering, and more. That means candidates should feel comfortable and/or master the following skills:


  • Problem-solving
  • Advanced maths
  • Information technology principles
  • Budgeting and finances
  • Project management
  • Data analysis
  • Automotive technical experience


Qualifications And Licencing Required To Study This Career?


Since automotive engineering is closely related to other fields you should attempt to obtain a degree in another related career such as mechanical engineering, automotive technology, electrical engineering, or manufacturing engineering. From there, you can start a four-year bachelor’s degree in automotive engineering from an accredited college or university. 


Once you graduate you must obtain a Fundamentals of Engineering license to be considered an “engineer in training” or EIT. This can be done by passing an exam. This license is a prerequisite to be eligible to take the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam that grant you the license as a Professional Engineer. In most states, you should have at least four years of experience as EIT to take that exam.


Possible career paths and specializations


As mentioned earlier, automobile engineers may take the route of design, production, or safety. That offers them the opportunity to take many professional paths and specializations in different fields such as:


  • Safety engineering
  • Fuel economy and emissions specialist
  • Noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) engineering
  • Vehicle electronics and control systems
  • Components performance (engine, transmission, etc)
  • Corrosion engineering
  • Quality management and quality control
  • Assembly specialist
  • Software engineering
  • Aerodynamics engineering
  • Fluid mechanics specialist
  • Power systems (gasoline, diesel, electric, hybrid)


Wrap Up


Regardless if you prefer the path of development-related engineering or manufacturing-related engineering, the career of automotive engineering lets you choose from diverse areas of knowledge. If you feel that you are good at mathematics, physics, programming, and also like the idea of designing or manufacturing all kinds of vehicles then this awesome profession might be for you.