Automotive Engineer Job Description

Automotive engineers develop design and improve the mechanisms related to vehicles. This involves using AutoCAD software to develop ideas, testing components through different methods and principles, and collaborating with colleagues on projects. Automotive engineers are often tasked with finding new ways to improve electrical components, circuits, car software, and car bodies. This job is often based in an office, but there may be a need for field work for further insight. Automotive engineers work independently some of the time, as tasks are delegated, and as part of a team on project briefing and more collaborative tasks. This job is well suited to people who are technical and analytical, have good problem-solving skills, and can use software to develop designs.


Automotive Engineer Duties and Responsibilities

Automotive engineers carry out a range of different tasks depending on the organization they work for. Based on job listings we analyzed, an automotive engineer’s duties typically involve:

Producing Designs

Using AutoCAD, automotive engineers create, develop, and produce designs which can be made into prototypes. They decide on the most appropriate materials to use for each component and integrate these into their plans.

Solving Engineering Problems

Using mechanical, electrical, hydraulic, thermodynamic, and pneumatic principles, automotive engineers fix engineering problems and investigate any mechanical failures.

Building Prototypes

Automotive engineers are responsible for building prototypes of different components to test their performance before production, and to ensure they meet safety standards. They may also be expected to analyze the performance of the vehicle to determine what the client is looking for and find ways to best meet the brief.

Inspecting Installation of Mechanical Systems

To meet safety and performance regulations, automotive engineers inspect the installation of mechanical systems and adjust where necessary. They supervise colleagues when installing components as well to make sure they’re fitted properly.

Checking Vehicles for Faults

Automotive engineers inspect and test drive vehicles to check for any faults and ways to make improvements.


Automotive Engineer Skills and Qualifications

Automotive engineers should have effective troubleshooting and problem-solving skills, attention to detail, and great communication and interpersonal skills. Typically, employers will require an associate’s degree in engineering, as well as the following abilities:

  • Teamwork – automotive engineers should be comfortable working as part of a team, and be able to remain professional at all times when working with colleagues and clients of all different backgrounds
  • Communication skills – automotive engineers work as part of a larger team so they need to be able to communicate clearly and effectively with colleagues and clients
  • Analytical and numeracy skills – automotive engineers analyze and interpret data to help resolve issues and problem-solve effectively. They also need to have a good grasp of numbers and mathematical principles to be able to apply these to their work [NM2]
  • Time management – automotive engineers work to strict deadlines to ensure that design projects and production runs to schedule, so good time management skills are important


Tools of the Trade

Automotive engineers regularly use these tools and people looking to build a career in this field should be familiar with using them.

  • 3D Modeling Software – AutoCAD
  • Project Management Tools – JIRA, Trello, Microsoft Project
  • Design Programs – ThinkDesign Engineering, Gamma Technologies GT-SUITE, Corel Sketch Pad


Automotive Engineer Education and Training

The minimum requirement to become an automotive engineer is an associate’s degree in engineering, though many employers prefer candidates to have a master’s degree in this subject or a similar area, such as general engineering, mechanical engineering, or computer science. Automotive engineers should also be proficient in using software such as AutoCAD.


Automotive Engineer Salary and Outlook

The median annual salary for automotive engineers is over $72,000, according to PayScale. Automotive engineers in the 10th percentile earn around $46,000 annually, while the highest paid earn close to $103,000 a year. Some companies offer packages that can reach up to $10,000 from bonus structures based on individual or group performances, and up to $15,000 in profit sharing opportunities.
Location and level of experience impact the pay level for this role, and many employers offer dental plans and medical insurance as part of their benefits package. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the growth rate for this sector is expected to grow by nine percent through 2026.


Helpful Resources

We’ve collected some of the best resources to help you develop a career as an automotive engineer.

Automotive Engineers – a group dedicated to helping professionals network and develop contacts within the automotive engineering sector. This LinkedIn group has thousands of members, so it’s perfectly suited to new or aspiring automotive engineers who want to learn and build their knowledge from more experienced professionals.

Automotive Engineering: Powertrain, Chassis System and Vehicle Body – this book serves as a great one-stop reference for automotive engineers involved with vehicle and automotive technologies. It covers the main systems, external factors, performance optimization, and many other topics.

Automotive Technology: A Systems Approach – now in its fifth edition, this book is one of the best-trusted books on automotive theory, service, and repair procedures. It’s a great option for those new to the industry who want a comprehensive introduction to automotive engineering.

Automotive Design and Production – this blog covers all things industry-related, from engineering topics to the latest design trends and news.


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