Automotive Engineers


Employment Prospects


According to the U.S. Department of Labor, approximately 257,900 industrial engineers were employed in the United States, and about 18 percent worked in the transportation equipment manufacturing sector. Automotive engineers can find employment with one of the Big Three U.S. automobile makers (General Motors, Ford Motor Company, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles), major foreign automakers that have factories or divisions in the United States (Honda, Nissan, Toyota, Hyundai, BMW, Volkswagen, and Mercedes-Benz), the battery electrical vehicle (BEV) automobile maker Tesla Motors, as well as any of the thousands of private manufacturing companies for components parts of an automobiles. 

Car engineers and technicians who specialize in improving the efficiency of various design systems in automobiles and those who specialize in product safety and utilizing green technologies will likely find greater employment opportunities. The growing market for hybrid and battery electric vehicles will offer job opportunities for car engineers familiar with designing and testing electrical engineering systems.

Other possibilities for engineers can be found in academia as instructors or researchers or as writers for engineering-oriented publications. Some mechanical engineers work as test drivers for automotive companies and publishers.

Starting Out

College and graduate school programs can help newly degreed automotive engineers locate jobs. These schools are often in touch with prospective employers who are in need of engineers. Conferences, trade shows, and engineering career fairs can also be good places for new engineers to begin meeting employers and setting up interviews.

Advancement Prospects

As automotive engineers gain more experience, they are given greater responsibilities and tougher problems to solve. At this stage, the engineer will be involved in more decision making and independent work. Some engineers advance to become engineering team managers or supervisors of entire projects. They also may enter administrative or sales positions. In addition, many high-level corporate and government executives started out as engineers.

Advancement depends upon experience and education. The more experience automotive engineers get, the more independence and responsibilities they will probably gain; however, an automotive engineer with a bachelor's degree will, in all probability, not make it to the highest levels of the field. Automotive engineers who are interested in going into corporate, industrial, or executive positions often go back to school to earn degrees in law or business. Engineers with years of experience become supervisors of their departments.

Automobile technicians with advanced training in robotics and in using advanced manufacturing instruments controlled by software will enjoy greater opportunities for advancement into skilled manufacturing positions in the automotive industry. 

Tips for Entry

Read publications such as ISE (formerly Industrial Engineer) ( and Manufacturing Engineering ( to learn more about trends in the industry and potential employers.

Visit the following Web sites for job listings:


As a student, gain experience by volunteering or completing an internship at an auto manufacturer or an engineering services firm.

A strong background in math and physics is helpful in this field; take classes in these areas.