How To Become An Automotive Engineer

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How Long Does It Take, What Degree Do You Need, and More

Automotive Engineers

Automotive Engineers develop new or improved designs for vehicle structural members, engines, transmissions, or other vehicle systems, using computer-assisted design technology. Direct building, modification, or testing of vehicle or components.

Becoming One
Bachelor's degree
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Table of contents
  1. Summary
  2. Steps to become one
  3. Popular degree levels
  4. How long does it take


Degree Bachelor's degree
Degree field Mechanical Engineering, Automotive Engineering, or a related Engineering degree
License or certification Some Automotive Engineers earn voluntary certifications or licenses, such as the Professional Engineering (PE) license.
Duration to become one 4 years
Difficulty to become one Hard

Automotive Engineers typically need a Bachelor’s degree.

Many Automotive Engineers earn Bachelor’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering, Automotive Engineering, or a related Engineering degree.

Some Automotive Engineers earn voluntary certifications or licenses, such as the Professional Engineering (PE) license.

Automotive Engineers Requirements

Step 1: Participate in an Engineering Summer Camp

Many Mechanical Engineering programs offer summer programs for high schoolers who are interested in Engineering careers. The summer camps give students a closer look at the college’s facilities and Engineering programs.

Aspiring Automotive Engineers may also find automotive courses available through their high school or local vocational schools. This can provide an early start in learning about powertrains and automobile components.

Students should also excel in math, as Engineering is a highly technical field that relies heavily on mathematics. After completing Geometry and Algebra, continue with Calculus and Trigonometry.

Step 2: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

Employers typically require Automotive Engineers to hold Bachelor’s degrees in Engineering. Only a select few colleges offer programs in Automotive Engineering, which is why most people who enter this field have degrees in Mechanical Engineering. However, Mechanical Engineering programs may allow students to specialize in Automotive Engineering.

When concentrating in Automotive Engineering, students may take general Mechanical Engineering courses and specialized courses, such as Automobile Dynamics, Alternative Energy Sources, Powertrain Dynamics, and Engine Parts.

When choosing an Engineering program, ensure that it is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). Many employers and professional certifications require the completion of ABET-accredited programs.

Step 3: Find an Internship

During your undergraduate studies, you may have the chance to participate in an Automotive Engineering internship. Internships are often offered by automotive manufacturers and suppliers. They provide hands-on experience and practical training that may make it easier to find employment after college.

Step 4: Start Looking for Entry-Level Jobs

Automotive Engineers may start in junior positions, which go by different names depending on the employer. You may find listings for an Entry Level Mechanical Engineer, Production Helper, Research Engineer, or Production Engineer.

Shortly after gaining employment, you may need to take the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam. Engineers who pass the FE exam are often called Engineers in Training (EITs). You will remain an EIT until you obtain a professional license.

Step 5: Become a Licensed Engineer

Voluntary certifications and licenses may help advance your career and may be necessary for some positions. One of the most common licenses for Engineers in any field is the Professional Engineer (PE) license. Licensed Engineers can oversee the work of other engineers and provide services directly to the public.

Earning the PE license requires a degree from an ABET-accredited program and at least four years of relevant work experience. You also need to pass the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam and the Professional Engineering (PE) exam.

Step 6: Continue Your Education

The previous steps should prepare you for a career as an Automotive Engineer. However, some of the highest positions may require a Master’s degree. It is not uncommon for experienced Automotive Engineers to earn a Master’s degree after working in the industry for several years.

A Master’s degree provides advanced skills and knowledge and the chance to specialize in certain areas of Automotive Engineering.

You may also continue your education without earning a Master’s degree. Some Automotive Engineers complete courses offered through the Society of Automotive Engineers. The courses are available in the classroom and online.

What degree do most Automotive Engineers have

Bachelor’s degree

We did a survey to ask other Automotive Engineers what degree they had when they first became one. Here are the results.

Bachelor’s degree

Master’s degree

Less than a High School Diploma

How long does it take

4 years

The minimum educational requirement for most Automotive Engineering jobs is a Bachelor’s degree, which often takes four years to complete. You may also work in entry-level roles before becoming a full-time Automotive Engineer.

Learn more about Automotive Engineers

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