Automobile engineers design, test, develop and manufacture automobiles. You'll help the automotive industry to meet new challenges, for example, making sure that cars are safe, environmentally friendly and fuel-efficient. As well as cars, you could also work on buses, coaches, tanks, racing cars and other vehicles.
Also known as
- Car Production Engineer
- Engineer, Automobile
- Vehicle Engineer
- Automotive Engineer
As an Automobile Engineer, you will design, test, develop and manufacture automobiles. You'll usually specialise in one of these areas.
Designing and developing a vehicle involves a wide range of engineering knowledge. For example, you'll use your knowledge of mechanical engineering, combustion, vehicle structures and aerodynamics.
You'll also need knowledge of IT, and electronic/electrical systems, which are becoming increasingly sophisticated in modern vehicles.
You might specialise in design. You will need to consider the strength, safety, efficiency, appearance and cost of parts. You might also consider feedback from customers when making improvements to a vehicle.
In design work, you will use computer-aided design (CAD) technology.
Some Automobile Engineers specialise in research and development. In this area you will need to consider cost, safety and comfort (including crash and safety testing), fuel efficiency and environmental issues such as reducing carbon emissions.
Environmental issues are a very big factor is today's automobile industry. Low carbon research is an exciting area to be involved in.
As a Research Automobile Engineer, you could work on both new and existing products. For example, you might create new technologies such as electric batteries and bio-diesel engines. You'll also test safety and performance by using prototypes.
Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.
Personal Qualities and Skills
To become an Automobile Engineer, you need:
- knowledge of many different aspects of engineering, including mechanical engineering, combustion, aerodynamics, electrical/electronic systems, and fuel technology
- the ability to think in an orderly and logical way
- imagination and an inquisitive mind
- to be able to work to deadlines and budgets
- to work well under pressure
- excellent communication skills to work in a team with others, such as Design Engineers, Engineering Technicians and Production Workers
- advanced computer skills, for example, to develop the sophisticated computer equipment used in modern vehicles
- to keep up to date with changes in technology and research techniques
Pay and Opportunities
The pay rates given below are approximate.
- Starting: £20,500 - £23,000
- With experience: £25,000 - £28,000
- Senior Automobile Engineers earn £30,500 - £33,000
Hours of work
Most Automobile Engineers work around 35-40 hours a week, Monday to Friday. However, early starts, late finishes and some weekend work may be required, especially as deadlines approach.
Where could I work?
Employers are major motor manufacturers and vehicle parts manufacturers. There are also openings with manufacturers of commercial vehicles and buses, sports cars and rail vehicles.
Opportunities for Automobile Engineers occur with employers in towns and cities throughout the UK.
Where are vacancies advertised?
Vacancies are advertised in local/national newspapers, on recruitment and employers' websites, and on Find a Job (www.gov.uk/jobsearch).
Social media websites, such as LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook, are a great way to network, find vacancies and get in contact with possible employers. Make sure that your profile presents you in a professional manner that will appeal to potential employers.
Take a look at our General Information Article
Entry Routes and Training
Automobile Engineers usually complete a relevant engineering degree, foundation degree or HND.
You could choose to study automotive or motorsports engineering. You could also consider a course in:
- mechanical engineering
- electrical or electronic engineering
- design engineering
- manufacturing engineering
Make sure you look closely at the content of each course to make sure it fits in with your strengths and your career plans.
A great way to get into this career is through an internship. Take a look at our information article '
Another way into the industry could be through an Advanced Apprenticeship.
With a degree, you could apply for graduate training schemes which offer a combination of training and learning with a salary.
Graduate Automobile Engineers often choose to work towards Chartered Engineer (CEng) or Incorporated Engineer (IEng) professional status. Both are highly regarded by employers throughout the industry.
An Advanced Level Apprenticeship could also lead on to higher qualifications, even up to degree level and beyond.
Whichever entry route you choose, it is really important to continue learning and to keep up-to-date with developments in the industry.
Previous experience working within the engineering industry would be useful for this career.
You might be able to progress by taking on more responsibility for managing engineering projects and leading teams of Automobile Engineers.
Some Automobile Engineers choose to become self-employed or take contract work on a freelance basis.
To enter a degree course in automotive engineering, the usual requirement is:
- 3 A levels, normally including maths and a science subject, often physics
- 5 GCSEs including English, maths and a science subject at GCSE at grade C/4 or above
Other qualifications include:
- BTEC level 3 qualifications
- the International Baccalaureate Diploma
Entry requirements vary widely, so check college/university websites carefully.
Some universities accept the Welsh Baccalaureate as equivalent to 1 A level.
It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.
If you don't have the qualifications needed to enter your chosen degree or HND course, a college or university Access course (eg, Access to Engineering) could be the way in.
These courses are designed for people who have not followed the usual routes into higher education. No formal qualifications are usually needed, but you should check this with individual colleges.
Numerous institutions offer undergraduate and postgraduate engineering qualifications via distance learning.
Information on pathways to registration as a Chartered (CEng) or Incorporated (IEng) Engineer can be found on the Engineering Council's website.
Professional institutionsProfessional institutions have the following roles:
- To support their members.
- To protect the public by keeping standards high in their professions.
For more information on the institution(s) relevant to this career, check out the contacts below.
Skills for science, engineering and manufacturing technologies
Address: 14 Upton Road, Watford, Hertfordshire WD18 0JT
Tel: 0845 6439001
Engineering technology news
Publisher: EngineeringUK and Royal Academy of Engineering
Specialists in graduate careers
Address: Unit 6, The Quad, 49 Atalanta Street, Fulham, London SW6 6TU
Tel: 020 7565 7900
Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI)
Skills for the motor industry
Address: Fanshaws, Brickendon, Hertford SG13 8PQ
Tel: 01992 511521
Publisher: Venture Marketing Group
Getting into Engineering Courses
Author: James Burnett Publisher: Trotman
Address: 105 West George Street, Glasgow G2 1QL
Tel: 0141 2213181
Address: 246 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EX
Tel: 020 3206 0500
Engineering Training Council Northern Ireland (ETC NI)
Northern Ireland Enquiries
Address: Sketrick House, Ards Business Park, Jubilee Road, Newtownards BT23 4YH
Tel: 028 9182 2377
Careers Wales - Welsh Apprenticeships
Tel: 0800 028 4844