Engineering design

Automotive engineer

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

Annual Salary

£20,000 to £45,000

Average UK salary in 2018 was £29,588 (source Office for Statistics)

Working hours


Future employment

There will be 3% more Automotive engineer jobs in 2023.
In your local area

What's it all about?

You could specialise in any stage of the motor manufacturing process, from the initial vehicle designs through to the final production stages.

You might work on:

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

You’ll work in one of the following areas:

  • design – turning ideas into blueprints for development and testing, taking into account safety, cost-effectiveness, environmental impact and look
  • development – building and testing prototypes using computer simulations and physical models to assess components' strengths, weaknesses, performance and safety
  • production – planning the production run, including redesigning machine tools, equipment and processes to make new parts, monitoring costs and production schedules, and overseeing quality control

You’ll usually need a qualification like an HNC, HND, foundation degree or degree, before starting a 1 to 2 year company training scheme. Relevant subjects include:

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

Courses with work placements or an internship are especially useful.

You could also get into this job through a higher or degree apprenticeship.

Autocity has more information on becoming an automotive engineer.

£20,000 to £45,000

Starter salary: £20,000 to £26,000

Experienced salary: £30,000 to £40,000

These figures are a guide.


You’ll usually work 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. As a production engineer, you may have to work shifts.

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

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

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You’ll need:

  • a creative approach to solving problems
  • excellent maths and IT skills
  • the ability to analyse and interpret data
  • excellent technical knowledge
  • good communication and presentation skills
  • the ability to prioritise and plan well
  • the ability to work to budgets and deadlines
My top 5 skills from the skills bank
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