Discovering The Reality Of Auto Engineering Career Experiences: Insights From An Engineer At A Major Automaker

A modern automotive engineering workshop with tools and equipment surrounding an open car engine.

Are you considering a career in automotive engineering? There’s a lot to unpack behind the scenes of this popular profession. In this blog post, we share candid insights from an engineer at a major automaker about what it’s really like to work in the field.

Automotive engineering can be an exciting, fast paced and fulfilling profession. However, it also can be very demanding, require long hours and deadline pressure and can have cultural challenges. If you are considering auto engineering, you need a balanced view.

Get ready; it’s time for a deep dive into the hidden truths of auto engineering!

Key Takeaways

  • Auto engineering is not as glamorous as it seems, with long hours, safety concerns, and demanding workloads.
  • The salary for automotive engineers may be lower compared to other engineering fields, but there are opportunities for growth and learning in a rapidly changing industry.
  • To become an automotive engineer, you will need a bachelor’s degree in engineering, gain practical experience through internships, and apply for employment. Consider obtaining a graduate degree for career advancement.

The Dark Side of Being an Automotive Engineer

A broken-down car sits on the side of a dark road at night, surrounded by shadows.

Automotive engineering may seem glamorous, but in reality, it comes with its fair share of challenges and drawbacks. From the demanding workload to safety concerns, being an automotive engineer is not always as exciting as it seems on paper.

On paper vs. in practice

You might think that working as a car engineer is all about drawing cool car parts and testing fast cars. But, the true picture is different. Often, you will sit in front of a computer screen for hours each day.

You will need to look at data, sort numbers, and fix problems. This part can be hard and boring sometimes. The job also takes you to factories where cars are made. There, you must wear safety gear and work with loud machines to test your designs in real life.

So the job does not always match what people think it is like on paper.

Demanding workload

Being an auto engineer is hard work. You might have to put in long hours. This happens a lot when a new car design is coming out or there are big problems to fix. Deadlines can be tough with lots of stress.

Many engineers also spend time outside the office. Work isn’t just at your desk on a computer. You may need to go on trips to factories and testing sites for cars. These things eat into your free time too, making your job busier than most others.

Remember refueling yourself is as important as fueling the cars you build!

Safety concerns

Cars can be risky to make. You have to watch out for safety in the auto industry. Big machines and tools can harm you if not used right. Safety rules need careful follow-up. A hard hat, gloves, and safe shoes are your friends at work.

Listen keenly when they teach about safety drills and signs. It’s not fun to get hurt on the job!

Salary expectations

As an automotive engineer, it is important to have realistic salary expectations. While the specific salary can vary depending on factors such as experience and location, it is generally considered lower compared to other engineering fields.

However, there are also bright sides to being an automotive engineer that should be taken into consideration. For example, the job provides opportunities to learn valuable lessons and gain useful experience in a rapidly changing industry.

It’s important to keep in mind that the automotive industry is undergoing a revolution, with advancements in technology like electric vehicles and autonomous driving. By staying adaptable and open to new trends, you can position yourself for success in this evolving field.

What is Automotive Engineering?

A photograph of a high-performance sports car at a test track, capturing its speed and precision.

Automotive engineering is a dynamic and exciting field that involves designing, developing, and manufacturing vehicles. With competitive salaries and endless opportunities for growth, it’s no wonder why many aspiring engineers are drawn to this industry.

If you’re curious about what automotive engineering entails and the steps to pursue a career in this field, read on!

Career description

Automotive engineering is an exciting career that involves designing and developing vehicles. As an automotive engineer, you’ll work on things like transforming batteries, fuel cells, and autonomous driving systems.

You’ll also be involved in chassis engineering and product design. It’s a job that requires technical knowledge and problem-solving skills.

In this field, you can expect to work in offices using computers for data analysis and virtual engineering processes. But don’t worry, it’s not all desk work! You’ll also get the opportunity to visit manufacturing plants to collect data and conduct experiments.

One thing to keep in mind is that the automotive industry is always changing. With new technologies emerging, like electric vehicles and self-driving cars, you’ll need to stay up-to-date with the latest advancements.

It’s a challenging yet rewarding career path that offers plenty of opportunities for growth.

Salary and requirements

The automotive engineering field requires a unique set of skills and in-depth knowledge. While the pay can vary based on factors such as experience, location, and the specific role, it can offer a lucrative career path. Below is a breakdown of the expected salary and necessary requirements for a career in automotive engineering.

PositionAverage Salary (Annually)Required EducationAdditional Requirements
Automotive Engineering Technician$50,000-$70,000Associate’s degree in automotive engineering technologyHands-on experience with automotive systems
Automotive Design Engineer$70,000-$100,000Bachelor’s degree in automotive engineering or mechanical engineeringProficiency in CAD software and a keen eye for design
Automobile Designer$60,000-$90,000Bachelor’s degree in industrial design or transportation designArtistic ability and design skills, understanding of materials and manufacturing methods
Automotive Engineer$70,000-$110,000Bachelor’s degree in mechanical or automotive engineeringStrong foundation in physics and mathematics, excellent problem-solving skills, experience with CAD software

Keep in mind that these are average salaries, and actual compensation can vary significantly. As the automotive industry continues to grow and innovate, there will be a high demand for skilled automotive engineers. It’s also worth noting that the industry is moving towards data-driven, virtual engineering, making familiarity with data analysis and technical software increasingly important.

Steps to Becoming an Automotive Engineer

To become an automotive engineer, you’ll need to obtain a bachelor’s degree in engineering, gain practical experience through internships, and apply for employment in the industry.

Getting licensed and considering a graduate degree can further enhance your career prospects. Ready to learn more about the exciting journey of becoming an automotive engineer? Keep reading!

Obtaining a bachelor’s degree

To become an automotive engineer, the first step is to obtain a bachelor’s degree. This educational requirement will provide you with the foundational knowledge and skills needed for a career in this field.

Throughout your undergraduate studies, you will learn about various subjects such as mathematics, physics, and computer-aided design. These courses will help you understand the principles behind automotive engineering and prepare you for more specialized areas of study.

It’s important to note that while a bachelor’s degree is typically sufficient for entry-level positions, some employers may prefer candidates with additional education or experience.

Getting an internship

To become an automotive engineer, getting an internship is a crucial step. Internships provide valuable real-world experience and the opportunity to learn from professionals in the field.

As an intern, you can gain hands-on experience working on various projects related to automotive engineering. This could include designing components, performing tests and analysis, or assisting with research and development.

It’s a chance to apply your theoretical knowledge in a practical setting and see how things work in the industry. By interning at a company or organization, you can also start building your professional network and making connections that may help you in your future career.

Applying for employment

To become an automotive engineer, there are certain steps you need to follow. First, you’ll need to obtain a bachelor’s degree in engineering or a related field. This will provide you with the foundational knowledge and skills needed for the job.

After completing your degree, it’s important to gain practical experience through internships or co-op programs. These opportunities allow you to apply what you’ve learned in real-world settings.

Once you have some experience under your belt, it’s time to start applying for employment. Look for job openings at automotive companies or engineering firms that specialize in automobiles.

Make sure your resume highlights your education, experience, and any relevant projects or research you’ve completed.

Becoming licensed as an engineer may also be required depending on where you live and work. Check with your local licensing board for specific requirements.

Becoming licensed

To become a licensed automotive engineer, there are important steps to follow. First, you need to obtain a bachelor’s degree in automotive engineering or a related field. This education will give you the foundation of knowledge and skills needed for the job.

Next, it’s crucial to get an internship in the industry. This will provide valuable hands-on experience and make you more competitive when applying for jobs. After completing your education and gaining practical experience, you can apply for employment as an automotive engineer.

It’s also worth considering pursuing a graduate degree to further enhance your qualifications. Remember that becoming licensed may require passing certain exams or meeting specific requirements set by professional organizations within the field.

Consideration for a graduate degree

If you’re considering a graduate degree in automotive engineering, it’s important to weigh the benefits and potential drawbacks. A graduate degree can provide you with advanced knowledge and skills that can help you stand out in the competitive job market.

It may also open up opportunities for higher-paying positions and career advancement. On the other hand, pursuing a graduate degree requires a significant investment of time and money.

You’ll need to carefully evaluate whether the additional education will truly benefit your specific career goals and aspirations. Keep in mind that real-world experience and practical skills are highly valued in the automotive industry as well, so make sure to balance theoretical knowledge with hands-on learning opportunities during your studies.

Types of Automotive Engineering Jobs

There are various types of automotive engineering jobs to explore, including Automotive Engineering Technician, Automotive Design Engineer, and Automobile Designer. Read on to discover the exciting opportunities in this field!

Automotive Engineering Technician

An automotive engineering technician is a professional who works alongside engineers to test and analyze vehicles. They help with the design, development, and production of cars, trucks, and motorcycles.

Automotive engineering technicians play an important role in the automotive industry by troubleshooting issues, collecting data, and conducting experiments. They often use specialized computer software to simulate vehicle performance and make improvements.

These technicians work closely with engineers to ensure that vehicles meet safety standards and perform optimally. Being an automotive engineering technician can be a rewarding career choice for those interested in automobiles and technology.

Automotive Design Engineer

An automotive design engineer plays a crucial role in creating the look and feel of vehicles. They use their creativity and technical skills to develop innovative designs for cars, trucks, or other automobiles.

These engineers work closely with teams of professionals, including product designers and manufacturers, to bring their ideas to life.

As an automotive design engineer, you will need a strong background in engineering principles and computer-aided design (CAD) software. You will also need a good understanding of vehicle dynamics and safety regulations.

This job requires attention to detail and the ability to think critically and problem-solve.

In the rapidly evolving automotive industry, there are exciting opportunities for growth as an automotive design engineer. Advances in technology are leading to the development of electric vehicles, autonomous driving systems, and alternative fuel sources like batteries or fuel cells.

As an automotive design engineer, you can play a vital role in transforming these concepts into reality.

While being an automotive design engineer offers many rewards, it’s important to understand that it can be a demanding career path. It requires long hours of work and dedication to meet tight deadlines.

Automobile Designer

An automobile designer is a creative professional who designs the appearance and functionality of vehicles. They use their artistic skills and technical knowledge to create innovative and visually appealing car designs.

This involves considering factors such as aerodynamics, safety regulations, and consumer preferences. Automobile designers often work closely with engineers to ensure that their designs can be manufactured efficiently.

They use computer-aided design (CAD) software to create detailed blueprints and prototypes of their designs. It’s an exciting job that allows designers to shape the future of transportation by creating vehicles that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing.

Key Skills Needed for Automotive Engineering

To succeed in automotive engineering, you need skills in data analysis, problem-solving, technical knowledge, commercial awareness, and the ability to work well in teams.

Data analysis

Data analysis is a crucial skill for automotive engineers. It involves examining and interpreting large amounts of information to uncover patterns and make informed decisions. By analyzing data, engineers can identify trends in vehicle performance, test results, and customer feedback.

This helps them develop innovative solutions and improve the safety, efficiency, and reliability of vehicles. With the rise of autonomous driving technology, data analysis becomes even more important as engineers analyze complex datasets from sensors and algorithms to ensure safe operation.

So if you’re considering a career in automotive engineering, developing strong data analysis skills will be essential for your success in this rapidly evolving industry.


Problem-solving is a crucial skill needed in the field of automotive engineering. As an automotive engineer, you will encounter various challenges and issues that require innovative solutions.

Whether it’s developing new technologies or improving existing ones, problem-solving plays a significant role in your day-to-day work. You will use data analysis and technical knowledge to identify problems and come up with effective solutions.

Additionally, teamwork is essential as you collaborate with colleagues to brainstorm ideas and overcome obstacles together. By developing strong problem-solving skills, you’ll be equipped to tackle the ever-evolving demands of the automotive industry and contribute to its continuous growth and improvement.

Technical knowledge

To succeed as an automotive engineer, you need to have strong technical knowledge. This means understanding the complex systems and components that make up a car, like engines, transmissions, and electrical systems.

You’ll also need to know how to use specialized software for designing and testing vehicles. Having a solid foundation in subjects like math, physics, and computer science will help you build your technical skills.

Keep in mind that the automotive industry is constantly evolving with new technologies like electric cars and autonomous vehicles, so it’s important to stay updated on the latest developments.

Commercial awareness

As an automotive engineer, it’s important to have commercial awareness. This means understanding the business side of things and how it relates to your work. You should know about the latest trends in the automotive industry, such as electric vehicles and autonomous driving.

Being aware of these developments can help you stay ahead and make informed decisions in your career. Additionally, having commercial awareness means understanding the market demands and customer preferences.

This knowledge can help you design products that meet consumer needs and contribute to the success of your company. By keeping up with industry news, attending conferences, and networking with professionals, you can enhance your commercial awareness and become a valuable asset in the field of automotive engineering.

Remember, being commercially aware doesn’t just benefit your current job—it also opens up career advancement opportunities. Employers value engineers who understand both technical aspects and business implications.


In automotive engineering, teamwork is a vital skill. You’ll often collaborate with other engineers and professionals to solve problems and develop new ideas. Together, you’ll analyze data, brainstorm solutions, and work towards improving the overall design and performance of vehicles.

By working as a team, you can combine your individual strengths and expertise to achieve better results. This collaborative approach also helps foster innovation and ensures that everyone’s ideas are heard and considered.

In the fast-paced world of automotive engineering, being able to effectively work as part of a team is essential for success. Whether it’s designing safer cars or developing greener technologies like electric vehicles or autonomous driving systems, teamwork plays a crucial role in shaping the future of transportation.

Career Advancement Opportunities and Advice

To advance your career in automotive engineering, focus on gaining real-world experience, developing your skills and knowledge, networking through industry associations, and assessing your personal strengths and interests.

Gaining real-world experience

Gaining real-world experience is crucial for success in the field of automotive engineering. As an aspiring engineer, it’s important to seek opportunities that allow you to apply what you’ve learned in a practical setting.

Internships and co-op programs are great ways to get hands-on experience and learn from professionals in the industry. These experiences can provide valuable insights into how projects are executed, allowing you to develop your skills and gain a deeper understanding of the field.

Additionally, networking through professional associations can help you connect with others in the industry and open doors to potential job opportunities. By actively seeking out real-world experience, you’ll be better prepared for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead as an automotive engineer.

Developing skills and knowledge

To succeed as an automotive engineer, developing the right skills and knowledge is crucial. First, you’ll need to have strong data analysis abilities. This means being able to gather and interpret information to make informed decisions.

Problem-solving is another essential skill, as you’ll encounter challenges that require creative solutions.

Technical knowledge is a must for any automotive engineer. You’ll need a solid understanding of engineering principles and relevant technologies in order to design and develop vehicles effectively.

Additionally, having commercial awareness will help you understand the business side of the industry.

Teamwork is also important in this field since you’ll often collaborate with others on projects. Being able to work well with different people and contribute your ideas is vital.

Networking through associations

In the field of automotive engineering, networking through associations can be a valuable way to connect with industry professionals and expand your career opportunities. By joining professional organizations or attending industry events, you can meet people who share your interests and learn from their experiences.

These connections may lead to job opportunities, mentorship, or access to resources that can help you grow as an automotive engineer. It’s important to actively participate in these associations by attending meetings and engaging with fellow members.

Building a strong professional network can open doors for collaboration and personal development in the automotive engineering industry.

Assessing personal strengths and interests

To succeed as an automotive engineer, it’s important to assess your personal strengths and interests. Think about the skills you excel in and enjoy using. Are you good at problem-solving or analyzing data? Do you have a strong technical knowledge or commercial awareness? These are valuable traits for an automotive engineer.

Consider what aspects of engineering you find most interesting – whether it’s chassis engineering, product design and development, or virtual engineering. By understanding your strengths and interests, you can choose a path within automotive engineering that aligns with your passions and talents.

Remember, success comes when we do what we love and use our natural abilities to make a difference in the world of auto engineering.


In conclusion, exploring the reality of a career in auto engineering can provide valuable insights for students interested in this field. While there may be challenges such as demanding workloads and safety concerns, there are also bright sides to being an engineer in the automotive industry.

By gaining real-world experience, developing key skills, and networking with professionals, individuals can set themselves up for success and advancement in this exciting field. So if you’re considering a career in auto engineering, take the time to learn more about its realities and opportunities.


1. What is auto engineering and what do auto engineers do?

Auto engineering involves designing, developing, and improving vehicles and their components. Auto engineers work on tasks such as creating prototypes, testing performance, and ensuring safety standards are met.

2. How can I become an auto engineer?

To become an auto engineer, you typically need a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering or a related field. It’s important to have strong mathematical and problem-solving skills, as well as familiarity with computer-aided design (CAD) software.

3. What is the job outlook for auto engineers?

The job outlook for auto engineers is expected to be steady in the coming years. As technology advances and the demand for more fuel-efficient and environmentally-friendly vehicles increases, there will be opportunities for innovation in this field.

4. What are some challenges faced by auto engineers?

Some challenges faced by auto engineers include meeting strict safety regulations, improving vehicle performance while reducing emissions, and keeping up with rapidly evolving technologies like electric vehicles and autonomous driving systems.

5. Are there any specific skills or qualities that make someone successful as an auto engineer?

Successful auto engineers possess strong analytical thinking abilities, attention to detail, good problem-solving skills, effective communication skills for collaborating with other team members or departments,and a passion for automobiles along with curiosity about emerging technological trends in automotive industry..

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