Automotive engineering encompasses mechanical and structural engineering and requires those working within the field to apply the principles of several scientific disciplines. These include physics, structural design, and materials analysis. Automotive engineering jobs also require a strong understanding of manufacturing principles and mechanical system design and operation methods.
These engineers may also need to be knowledgeable in several other areas of engineering, including safety, power, electronics, and software. Many engineers working in the automotive field will specialize in a particular area, allowing them to become experts in their realm. This often results in higher pay and better job security.
Some of the most well educated, experiences, and skilled automotive engineers are those who are able to oversee projects in new business or product development. These automotive engineering jobs are responsible to leading a design, engineering and manufacturing team that take new products from conceptualization through production. Such engineering roles are highly compensated in the marketplace and also require candidates to have strong “soft” skills in addition to technical know-how.
Communication and leadership are among the soft skills necessary for engineers to be successful in overseeing team-based automotive engineering development projects. While the job market is jam packed with highly skilled technical engineers, it is a wide open playing field for those with a more well-rounded skill set.
Specialties in the Field
There are a number of specialized automotive engineering jobs to be found in the field. These positions may focus on a particular kind of system, structure or function of vehicles, or it may be a certain subset of vehicles.
For example, an automotive engineer may specialize in the design of vehicle bodies, in which case he or she would be required to possess superior knowledge of structural design principles. Or, the engineer may specialize in the development of guidance or navigation systems, in which case he or she would need to be quite knowledgeable in computer science and software applications.
Those engineering jobs that specialize in vehicle subsets may include the design, development, and manufacture of passenger or commercial, land-based transportation vehicles. The engineer may be an expert on passenger or transportation trains, motorcycles, school or public transit buses, passenger cars, or military transport vehicles.
Regardless of the area in which the engineer specializes, he or she may also be an expert within that particular subsector of the automotive engineering field. This means that there are highly knowledgeable engineers who are able to design and develop new components, structures and systems for a specific kind of vehicle. For example, there are automotive engineering jobs that work only with the guidance systems found in military transport vehicles.