Maintenance

Motorsport engineer

Motorsport engineers design, build and test racing cars and bikes.

Annual Salary

£18,000 to £60,000

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

Working hours

Variable

3%
Future employment

There will be 3% more Motorsport engineer jobs in 2024.
In your local area

What's it all about?

As a motorsport engineer working in design, testing or production, your day-to-day duties may include:

  • assessing new ideas by looking at performance, strength, costs and safety
  • designing prototypes with computer-aided design (CAD) software
  • testing components and bodywork 
  • testing working models on the track 
  • building production models and carrying out quality control checks
  • 'finishing' vehicles with the team's colours and sponsorship logos

As a motorsport engineer working in racing, your day-to-day duties may include:

  • setting up vehicles to suit track and weather conditions
  • monitoring engine speed and other data during races
  • fine tuning the vehicle and sending technical instructions to the driver or rider
  • carrying out ‘after-tests’ on vehicles after a race to look for signs of damage

University

You’ll need experience in vehicle engineering or a related area, like component manufacturing, electronic controls or mechanics.

You'll usually need to complete a foundation degree, higher national diploma or degree. Relevant engineering courses include:

  • motorsport
  • automotive
  • electronic
  • mechanical

It's useful to look for courses that include work placements with manufacturers and suppliers.

There are schemes like Formula Student and Greenpower that are aimed at people who want to get into motorsport engineering.

You'll usually need:

  • 1 or 2 A levels for a foundation degree or higher national diploma
  • 2 to 3 A levels for a degree

Apprenticeship

You could train through a degree apprenticeship as a manufacturing engineer.

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

£18,000 to £60,000

Starter salary: £18,000 to £22,000

Experienced salary: £25,000 to £40,000

Senior engineers working for a manufacturer’s racing team usually negotiate their salary.

These figures are a guide.

Variable

You’ll work long and irregular hours, and will often have to travel.

During a season, you’ll arrive at a circuit several days before an event to prepare. 

You may also travel out of season to circuit-test cars and bikes.

As a design, test or production engineer, you’ll be based at one site, although you may still work long hours.

With experience, you could specialise in a particular engineering field, like engine transmission or electronics. 

You could also progress to test or workshop manager, chief engineer, technical coordinator or technical manager.

You could also work towards incorporated or chartered engineer status by applying to the Engineering Council.

The Motorsport Industry Association (MIA) recommends you choose a course that include work placements with manufacturers and suppliers, and volunteering at racing events as a marshal. 

The Motor Sports Association and British Motorsports Marshals Club have more information on racing and marshalling.

The MIA and Your Future in Automotive have more information on becoming a Motorsport Engineer.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You’ll need:

  • the ability to use, repair and maintain machines and tools
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • analytical thinking skills
  • customer service skills
  • persistence and determination
  • the ability to work well with others
  • problem-solving skills
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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