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Steps to Become an Automotive Engineer

Becoming an automotive engineer isn’t limited to a single route. A prevalent belief is that an automotive engineering degree is a prerequisite to enter the field.

While this is a direct path, other, more adaptable routes are available to anyone aspiring for a career in automotive. The automotive engineering sector is dynamic and competitive, but the pay and indirect job benefits can be extremely satisfying.

If you’re initiating your venture into the automotive field or an engineer seeking a remarkable shift, we’re here to guide you toward your aspiration.

Earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering

Many automotive engineers have a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, although degrees in electrical engineering and materials engineering can be useful as well. These courses typically include topics such as:

  • Thermodynamic
  • Engineering Mechanics
  • Design optimization
  • Robotics and automation
  • Materials science
  • Electrical circuits 
  • Systems engineering

Additionally, some schools offer specific automotive engineering degrees or concentrations. Consider joining an online MS in electrical and computer engineering program to become an expert in the field and gain the skills needed to stay competitive.  

Gain Experience Through an Internship or Apprenticeship

Regardless of your academic qualifications and technical skills, the automotive industry heavily values practical work experience. It is advisable to seek apprenticeship or internship opportunities during your degree program or immediately after. 

Manufacturers like Ford or General Motors offer internship programs to students studying engineering. You will gain a better understanding of the industry and its operations and hone your skills in automotive engineering.

If you are passionate about the sector, consider joining an auto club or taking classes in advanced vehicle systems to improve your knowledge base and performance. 

Get Licensed and Certified

In certain countries, automotive engineers must obtain government certifications and licenses before practicing their profession. Certifications vary based on the jurisdiction you are applying in but typically include a professional engineer (PE) license or a chartered engineer (CEng) qualification.

Having any additional certifications like the Automotive Industry Certification (AIC) or Certified Automotive Engineer (CAE) can go a long way in furthering your career prospects

Develop Soft Skills

Being part of a manufacturing or design team necessitates working collaboratively and communicating effectively. Project management experience and effective time and resource management are also crucial to meeting deadlines and targets. 

Employers seek those who can work independently and with a team; therefore, developing problem-solving skills, leadership qualities, and the ability to manage simultaneous tasks is an added advantage. You can hone these skills through volunteering opportunities, professional seminars, or classes. 

Continuously Update Knowledge and Skills

Automotive engineering is constantly evolving; therefore, education does not end with a degree or years of experience. Participation in relevant industry events like conferences, seminars, workshops, and trade shows to stay informed.

Joining professional organizations related to your field of study can also be beneficial when finding a job after graduation. 

Attend professional seminars or conferences on automotive engineering, giving you a platform to talk to industry experts, build connections, and land job offers. With a good network of professionals in the space, you can get ahead in the automotive engineering industry. 

Final Thoughts

Becoming an automotive engineer is a lofty goal but certainly a possible one. By learning the basics of design and engineering, finding books and resources for further study, gaining useful experience through classes or internships, and finally seeking out certifications, you can be well on your way to becoming a successful automotive engineer.