Automobile, motorbike, bus, and truck engineers design, develop, and build vehicles and the technological systems that power them.
As an apprentice automotive engineer, you will design new goods and sometimes modify old ones. You will also be able to recognise and solve engineering challenges.
To complete projects on schedule and under budget, you’ll need a combination of technical and business skills. After obtaining competence, you’ll specialise in a subject such as structural design, exhaust systems, or engines.
Throughout your apprenticeship, you may help:
- 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.
- Starting apprenticeship salaries within automotive engineering are in the region of £20,000 to £22,000.
- With experience, you can expect to earn £30,000 to £45,000, depending on your role and whether you’ve gained chartered status.
- Salaries can rise to over £60,000 for senior positions.
Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 39 to 41 hours a week, with the chance of overtime on occasion. Some jobs may require shift work, such as evenings and weekends.
You could work in an office, at a research facility or at a manufacturing plant.
Qualifications you can achieve as an apprentice automotive engineer include:
- Level 6 Manufacturing engineer – Entry requirements for this level include 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a degree apprenticeship. This qualification will take 60 months to complete.
On an automotive engineering apprenticeship, you’ll learn:
- 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
- to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently.
Typical employers of automotive engineers include:
- car, commercial vehicle and motorcycle manufacturing companies
- design houses and test laboratories
- automotive component suppliers
- fuel and oil companies
Many large organisations provide apprenticeship training programmes that include rotations in various disciplines and allow you to pick a specialist area.
You’ll strive to become an incorporated (IEng) or chartered (CEng) engineer. The Engineering Council awards these internationally recognised certifications. Having them expands your career prospects and income potential.
You must be a member of a professional organisation, such as the IMechE or the Institute of Engineering and Technology, to apply for professional registration (IET).
The process for being incorporated or chartered is simplified if you have an accredited first degree or a Masters degree. You must demonstrate that you operate at a specific level and have the appropriate professional abilities. Engineering Council – Professional Registration has further information.
You’ll need to keep current on technology improvements and software packages throughout your career. For example, IMechE’s automobile division regularly offers industry-related lectures, seminars, and conferences. It’s also a good idea to keep up with industry advancements by reading specialised publications.
As an automotive engineer, you will have many job options. For example, it is possible to advance to supervisory engineer jobs and senior positions in project team management, general management, and consulting.
When you reach the level of IEng, you will often specialise in the day-to-day management of engineering activities. As a chartered engineer (CEng), you may take on a more strategic role, planning, researching, developing new ideas, and streamlining management procedures.
Look for work in a related sector, such as environmental design. You can enter the graphic design business if you have considerable expertise in creative design. You may teach and speak at universities or colleges if you have a Masters or PhD in mechanical or automotive engineering.
After several years of experience, you can transfer into contract work, rotating between short-term and long-term projects. This job may provide variety, decent compensation, and the opportunity to work abroad. However, it needs more stability and benefits that come with long-term work with a large firm.