Driving the Future: How to Become an Automotive Engineer

by Klaus on March 26, 2019

in Articles

Have you always had an interest in cars, bikes, and the rest of the transportation industry? If so, then why not carve out a career for yourself in the field? There are plenty of opportunities for you to do so, from working as a mechanic to being a valet driver.

If you have a specific interest in vehicle design and production, then the career path you need to go down is that of the automotive engineer. By doing so, each day you would be tasked with testing engines, searching for design defects, and troubleshooting potential manufacturing glitches. The end result? You will have played your part in bringing a vehicle to life.

To see what you need to do to drive your future in the direction of becoming an automotive engineer, make sure to check out the career guide below.

Get educated

To stand any chance whatsoever of becoming an automotive engineer, you’re going to have to receive a thorough education in the field beforehand. First and foremost, this means devoting a number of years to the undertaking of an automotive engineering technology course at the bachelor’s level. This kind of program will see you combine both your technical and scientific understandings of the field, and it will broaden your knowledge about the design and manufacturing elements of a host of vehicles. You’ll learn all about paramedic modeling, thermodynamics, performance testing, dynamics, safety, and fluid power.

In order to give yourself the best chance possible of landing a quality entry-level job in the industry, you should consider taking your education one step further. To the point, you should consider going down the master’s route.

By enrolling on an advanced degree course, such as the Automotive Engineering online course offered by Kettering University, you will equip yourself with the skills needed to take your career as far as it can go. You will harness technical expertise that will see you be able to play an integral role in the development of the vehicles of the future, the likes of which including autonomous, electric, mobile robotic, and electric vehicles.

Hone your skills

At some point during your time in education, you will also be required to undergo an internship program. Whether it’s in a commercial or industrial setting, this work experience will prove invaluable to you as you seek to actualize your practical skills in the field of automotive engineering.

On your internship, you should take every opportunity that comes your way — in particular, you should take those that allow you to hone your skills in the following focus areas:

By focusing on these particular areas, you will put yourself at the very forefront of modern-day automotive engineering knowledge. There are, however, a number of other basic skills that you also need to hone at this time, as doing so will stand you in better stead of enjoying a more successful career going forward. These skills include:

  • Business acumen (to ensure you are able to negotiate with suppliers)
  • Multitasking (to ensure that you can build vehicles with a host of capabilities, not just one or two)
  • Communication (to ensure that you design vehicles that transcend all cultures)
  • Problem-solving (to ensure that the vehicles that you issue for full-sail production don’t get sent back to the lab only a month after being rolled out to the general public)
  • Cost estimation (to ensure that your projects do not go over budget when compared to the profit they are projected to make)

If you can hone and harness these skills as early on in your career as possible, you will no doubt find yourself advancing in the automotive engineering professional incredibly quickly.

Look for employment

After you have graduated from your degree program(s), undergone a successful internship program, and honed a number of the all-important skills listed above, it’s time for you to look for employment opportunities in the automotive engineering sector.

In this instance, it’s best to apply for jobs that match your specific expertise — your skillset may already be comprehensive at this point, but there will still be certain elements of the automotive industry in which you are particularly well-versed.

Whether you are skilled at designing prototype cars, whether you have the ability to improve fuel system performance with ease, or whether you are particularly good at being able to find cost-effective materials to use — no matter what it is you are good at, try to ensure that your first job role compliments your unique skillset. This will help you to ease your way into the industry, and it may even convince your employers that you are fully aware of what you are doing despite how inexperienced you are.

Of course, if there are just no employment opportunities out there that match your skill set, you will have to broaden your job search… or, you could broaden your knowledge of the automotive industry even further to ensure that you are capable of taking on even more tasks in the workplace.

Thanks to the Society of Automotive Engineers, there are plenty of ways for you to participate in continued education opportunities, in the form of both online and classroom-based courses. By taking this further-education route, you could end up sharpening your knowledge in a number of all-important automotive areas, such as bodies and structures, vehicle performance, vehicle safety, and energy sources.

Get licensed

You can practice automotive engineering professionally without licensure — being licensed will, however, help you to land a better job. With a license, you will be allowed to bid for government contracts, offer your engineering services to the general public, and set up a consultive service.

Each state has their own individual requirements in this particular instance, so it’s important that you check your state board before you go ahead and seek licensure. If you don’t, you could end up paying for something that you don’t actually need to help you advance in your career.

If you wish to be a driving force in the future of the automotive engineering industry, then you need to put the above advice into practice.

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