Automotive Engineer

Job Description:

Automotive engineers design, develop, test and build cars and motorbikes.

Job Category:
Automotive & Aviation

What you will do:

You might work in design, development or production on:

  • body, chassis and engine systems
  • electrical and electronic instrumentation and control systems
  • thermodynamics, aerodynamics and fluid mechanics
  • fuel technology and emissions

You could:

  • turn design ideas into blueprints
  • research the safety, cost and environmental impact of designs
  • move designs into development by building prototypes
  • test products using computer simulations and physical models
  • assess components’ strengths, weaknesses, performance and safety
    plan the production run
  • redesign machine tools, equipment and processes to make new parts
  • monitor costs and production schedules
  • oversee quality control


You’ll need:

  • knowledge of engineering science and technology
  • design skills and knowledge
  • knowledge of physics & maths
  • the ability to use, repair and maintain machines and tools
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

As well as:

  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail (organisational skills)
  • analytical thinking skills
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • ability to collaborate with other engineers, designers, and technicians to bring innovative vehicle technologies to market (teamwork)
  • strong problem-solving skills
  • a passion for automotive technology
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship

You could do a foundation degree, higher national diploma (in the UK) or degree, before joining a company graduate training scheme.

Relevant subjects include:

  • mechanical engineering
  • electrical or electronic engineering
  • design engineering
  • manufacturing engineering
  • automotive engineering

A course with a work placement or an internship will be especially useful.

Some car manufacturing companies offer undergraduate year-in-industry placements that give you the chance to develop industry skills and earn a salary.

You could do a degree apprenticeship and combine learning in the workplace with doing an engineering degree at an approved university.

Relevant degree apprenticeships include:

  • Manufacturing engineer
  • Product design and development engineer

If you already have a degree in a science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM) subject, you may be able to do a Level 7 postgraduate engineer apprenticeship.

Applications with automotive engineering companies are competitive and usually open at set times of the year.

Check company websites regularly for application deadline information.

School Subjects

To become an Automotive Engineer in the UK, you should focus on GCSE subjects that provide a strong foundation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) such as:

  1. Mathematics: Mathematics is a core subject for engineering disciplines, including Automotive Engineering. It is crucial for complex calculations, problem-solving, and data analysis involved in vehicle design and testing.
  2. Physics: Physics provides fundamental principles related to mechanics, forces, and motion, which are essential in understanding vehicle dynamics and performance.
  3. Design and Technology: This subject can provide insights into engineering design principles, materials, and manufacturing techniques used in the automotive industry.
  4. ICT (Information and Communication Technology): Familiarity with digital tools and software is essential for vehicle diagnostics, simulations, and computer-aided design (CAD).
  5. Chemistry (optional): While not mandatory, studying Chemistry can be helpful in understanding the properties of materials used in automotive components.
  6. Business Studies (optional): Knowledge of business principles can be beneficial for understanding the commercial aspects of the automotive industry.

Working Hours and Environment:

You could work in an office, at a research facility or at a manufacturing plant.

Career Path & Progression:

With experience, you could progress to senior engineer roles, project team management, general management, automotive insurance damage assessment or consultancy.