Automotive Engineers


Education and Training Requirements

High School

High school students interested in automotive engineering should take a great deal of mathematics, including geometry, trigonometry, calculus, and two years of algebra. They should develop a strong background in physics, chemistry, biology, and computer programming or applications. Because automotive engineers must communicate constantly with other engineers, scientists, clients, and consumers, four years of language arts are essential.

Postsecondary Training

After high school, students should attend a four-year college or university and earn a bachelor's degree in automotive, mechanical, electronics, materials engineering, or a related engineering field. Some engineers major in a science such as physics, computers, or chemistry and then find work applying their science in an engineering field or go to graduate school for a master's or doctorate degree in engineering. Many engineers, no matter their undergraduate major, now pursue advanced degrees in the field.

Other Education or Training

Because technology is rapidly developing, automotive engineers need to continue their education, formally or informally, throughout their careers. Conferences, seminars, and other continuing education (CE) opportunities serve to educate engineers about developments in the field. Many of these opportunities are provided by professional associations. For example, SAE International offers continuing education opportunities at conferences and through online training sessions. Topics include design engineering and styling; human factors and ergonomics; safety, fuels and energy sources; and quality, reliability, and durability. The Institute of Industrial Engineers provides continuing education courses on topics such as management, developing effective communication skills, applied ergonomics, quality systems standards, and supply chain management. The Society of Women Engineers offers conference sessions, webinars, and other education resources on topics such as leadership, career development, and special issues for women in engineering. Other organizations that provide CE opportunities include the American Society for Engineering Education, ASME, National Society of Professional Engineers, and SME. Contact these organizations for more information.

In addition, there are a growing number of skilled technician and engineer positions in the automotive industry that reflect the growing use of automated control systems, robotics, and mechatronics systems in the automotive and automotive parts production process. In order to meet the demand for automotive technicians and engineers, automobile and automobile parts manufacturers have partnered with community and technical colleges in the Midwest and Southeast to develop training and apprenticeship programs targeted for automotive industry workers employed and students seeking employment in semiskilled and skilled occupations in the automotive manufacturing and automotive parts industries.

For example, Autocam (, a precision manufacturer for both the automotive and medical industries, has partnered with the Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) in Michigan and a handful of automotive and automotive parts manufacturing companies to operate a talent development program for technicians and engineers interested in developing advanced manufacturing skills presently in demand for these two related automotive industries. 

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

Many engineers become certified. Certification is a status granted by technical or professional organizations (such as SME) for the purpose of recognizing and documenting an individual's abilities in a specific engineering field.

Licensure as a professional engineer is recommended since an increasing number of employers require it. Even those employers who do not require licensing will view it favorably when considering new hires or when reviewing workers for promotion. Licensing requirements vary from state to state. In general, however, they involve graduating from an accredited school, having four years of work experience, and passing the eight-hour Fundamentals of Engineering exam and the eight-hour Principles and Practice of Engineering exam. Depending on your state, you can take the Fundamentals exam shortly before your graduation from college or after you have received your bachelor's degree. At that point you will be an engineer-in-training. Once you have fulfilled all the licensure requirements, you receive the designation professional engineer. Visit the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) Web site,, for more information on licensure.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Students should obtain as much experience in the field as possible by participating in summer internships and part-time jobs at automotive manufacturers or engineering services firms.

Those who are interested in becoming automotive engineers should enjoy solving problems, developing logical plans, and designing things. They should have a strong interest and ability in science and mathematics. Engineers and technicians often work on projects in teams, so prospective engineers and engineers should be able to work well both alone and collaboratively with others.