Graduate Careers Advice

Graduate Automotive Engineering Careers

James Thornhill

Cars are big business, everyone uses them! That’s without including buses, lorries and vans! With more and more vehicles on the roads each year we need safe, effective and environmentally friendly vehicles. That’s where automotive engineers come in.

Automotive engineers design and develop technology, products and materials that improve processes and solve problems. They are often also involved in testing and installation. This industry covers many types of engineering including mechanical, electrical, software and safety engineering.

Duties of an automotive engineer involve testing and improving engines so they perform better and in a more eco-friendly way.

Car manufacturing in the UK hit a 10-year high in 2015 with 1.6 million cars being built, up 3.9% on 2014 according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers supports people who work in this industry by offering further training, and the opportunity to become chartered.

Students and apprentices can join for free – have a look at the degree programmes that IMechE has accredited. You can also meet other people in the same line of work, and find out about the latest headlines that affect the industry at the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

The best way to progress in this career is to have good qualifications, but will lead you to good opportunities and chances to develop the skills you enjoy most.

 Companies will sometimes fund this training themselves, as they want to get the most out of their employees.

How much can I earn as an Automotive Engineer?                                                                       

Starting salaries are usually between £20,000 and £26,000, while experienced engineers can earn between £25,000 to over £50,000 a year.

What Qualifications do I Need to be an Automotive Engineer?

To work in automotive engineering most employers will prefer you to have an engineering related qualification.


After a Bachelors Degree

Graduate training schemes are available with many employers straight after your bachelors degree.

For entry onto one of these schemes usually requires a degree at 2:2 class or above, in a relevant technical or scientific subject.

What Skills Do I Need to be an Automotive Engineer?

Different roles within the automotive engineering field will require slightly different specialist skills but in general you will need these skills to succeed:

  • Knowledge of automotive engineering and design
  • Planning and organisation
  • Problem solving
  • Ability to work under pressure and to deadlines
  • Mathematical knowledge
  • communication skills
  • Teamwork
  • Leadership

What Experience Do I Need to Get a Job in Automotive Engineering?

Employers value work experience so finding courses with work placements or an internship, or working for a year in industry can be especially useful. 

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