Test drivers are employed by major auto manufacturers. Coveted spots include working as high performance drivers for the Big Three automakers—Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors—though many test drivers vie for positions with major foreign manufacturers such as BMW, Toyota, and Ferrari. Some test drivers are employed by automotive publishing companies.
Test drivers may find work through their career services office or through automotive technology trade schools. Test drivers who are new to the field may be asked to perform basic tests on how well individual systems work, such as the heating and cooling system or the braking system. Or they may assist in setting up a racing course or other testing site. New test drivers are often assigned lower end cars, or less demanding test routes such as highways or local roads.
Test drivers with enough experience may be promoted to head driver for an auto manufacturer. Head drivers often test the higher end, luxury models or may be asked to race a manufacturer's concept or muscle car models. Seeking employment at a larger manufacturer or one specializing in exotic cars, such as Ferrari or Aston Martin, is another form of career advancement.
Test drivers who work in the publishing industry can find employment with larger magazines, or may seek additional freelance opportunities for Web sites, e-zines, or local papers.
Tips for Entry
Earn a mechanical engineering degree with a specialization in automotive engineering or technology to improve your chances of landing a job.
Apply for entry-level jobs with automotive manufacturers.
Talk with test drivers about their careers. Ask them for advice on breaking into the field.