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Engineering design

Automotive engineer Green Job

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

Annual Salary

£20,000 to £45,000

Average UK salary in 2023 was £34,963
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

39 to 41 a week

You could work: evenings; on shifts

Future employment

There will be 2.4% more Automotive engineer jobs in 2027.

Day to day tasks

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

Working environment

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

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship

You could do a foundation degree, higher national diploma 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.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • at least 1 A level, or equivalent, for a foundation degree
  • between 1 and 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a higher national diploma or degree
For more information

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.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a degree apprenticeship
For more information

More information

Further information

You can find out more about careers in the automotive industry through:Autocity; Your Future in Automotive; The IMI (Institute of the Motor Industry)

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

How does this job help to address the impacts of climate change and protect wildlife and nature in the West of England?

Automotive engineers will be needed as green automotive technologies are emerging fast, introducing new models including, electric, hybrid and driverless vehicles. Automotive software developers and CAD design skills are in demand to create and design software that makes electric cars run.

Examples of post-16 courses you could study at local schools or colleges

  • Maths, Sciences A-levels
  • Level 2/3 Engineering at City of Bristol College
  • Engineering and Manufacturing T-Level (available from 2024)

Click here to find a local provider

Apprenticeships you may be able to take with local employers

  • Level 2-3 Engineering Apprenticeship
  • Level 4 Propulsion Vehicle Engineer Apprenticeship

Click here to search for a local apprenticeship

Examples of post-18 courses you could study at local higher education providers

Click here to search for other university courses

For more information on the different routes you can take to get into working as an automotive engineer, take a look at the 'Routes into this job' section above. 

Click here for an explanation of the different course and apprenticeship levels.

Local employers 

For more local employment opportunities see the 'Live job vacancies by region' section above.

Click here for a profile of Matt Oshinowo, a PHD Student Research at the University of Bath Centre for Sustainable and Circular Technologies.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • maths knowledge
  • knowledge of engineering science and technology
  • design skills and knowledge
  • knowledge of physics
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • analytical thinking skills
  • the ability to use, repair and maintain machines and tools
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • the ability to read English
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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