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

40

3%
Future employment

There will be 3% more Automotive engineer jobs in 2024.
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 can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship

University

You’ll usually need a foundation degree, higher national diploma or degree, before joining a company 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.

You'll usually need:

  • at least 1 A level for a foundation degree 
  • 2 to 3 A levels to do a degree or higher national diploma

Apprenticeship

You could get into this job through a manufacturing engineer degree apprenticeship or product design and development engineer degree apprenticeship.

You'll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and college qualifications like A levels for a degree apprenticeship

Further information

You can find out more about careers in the automotive industry through Autocity and Your Future in Automotive.

£20,000 to £45,000

Starter salary: £20,000 to £26,000

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

These figures are a guide.

40

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:

  • 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
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
My top 5 skills from the skills bank
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