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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 2019 was £30,378
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

39 to 41 a week

You could work: evenings; on shifts

3%
Future employment

There will be 3% more Automotive engineer jobs in 2026.
In your local area

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
University

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
Apprenticeship

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.

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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