Automotive engineering means more than working with just cars; it applies to the whole range of land transport and includes buses, trucks, cars and even the glamorous world of motor racing. The field is huge so automotive engineers tend to specialise as they progress in their careers.

What you’ll be doing.

If you choose to become an automotive engineer, you’ll probably find yourself working in one of three main areas:

  • Design– conceiving and designing new products and improving those that already exist.
  • Research and development – solving problems and developing new technologies and concepts.
  • Production – designing and planning manufacturing processes.

Once you’ve become established, you’ll most likely specialise. You could work in any number of areas: engines, fuel systems, drive trains, suspension, safety, exhaust systems, instrumentation and structural design – these are just a few. Each requires detailed knowledge of specific subjects ranging from electronics to fuel technology and thermodynamics to aerodynamics.

The type of work involved.

To be an automotive engineer you’ll need to have more than a technical aptitude and engineering skills. You’ll also have to be innovative and be a good team player. The jobs you could find yourself doing are almost countless and include:

  • Designing components and producing working drawings so that they can be manufactured.
  • Examining existing components or systems and looking at ways in which they can be improved.
  • Testing components and systems to ensure that they function as required.
  • Computer simulations.
  • Ensuring compliance with engineering codes, safety standards and other codes required by legislation in different markets.
  • Looking into questions such as environmental impact.
  • Testing the viability of new ideas and designs.
  • Planning the production process, including tooling, machinery and schedules.
  • Costing.
  • Preparing reports and presentations.
  • Negotiating with clients and suppliers.
  • Project management.
  • Team supervision.

Why you should become an automotive engineer.

Transport is a vital part of daily life for individuals but, more importantly, it is a key component of the global economy. A career in the automotive industry will give you the opportunity to contribute to this crucial industry. It will also give you the opportunity to work with cutting edge technologies and to be involved in the development of new innovations in transport.

As an automotive engineer you’ll have a huge range of roles open to you and, given the international nature of the automotive industry, there is every chance that you could find yourself working overseas, exposed to new environments and cultures.

How you can become an automotive engineer.

If automotive engineering sounds like the field for you, then you’ll need to work towards obtaining a foundation degree, HNC or HND or a degree in one of the following subjects:

  • Mechanical engineering.
  • Automotive engineering.
  • Production engineering.
  • Manufacturing engineering.
  • Electrical or electronic engineering.

It is possible to start off as an apprentice (with four of five GCSEs) but to advance you’ll have to take the higher qualifications mentioned above. Once qualified, after starting work you’ll most probably be placed in a company training scheme and will be encouraged to take professional development courses run by the engineering institutes.

With experience, you’ll be able to progress into managerial and consultancy roles. You’ll also be able to move into other related fields; the sky is the limit if you are talented, enthusiastic and prepared to work hard. Who knows? You could be the next Sir Alec Issigonis (the man behind the Morris Minor and the Mini), but you won’t find out unless you try.