As a specialization within the field of mechanical engineering, automotive engineers focus on the design and development of motor vehicles. That is the short answer.
However, there is so much to the field of automotive engineering that it is important to understand just how wide the scope of duties really are.
For entry level positions, most employers require a minimum of a BS in Mechanical Engineering but with the advances in technology, many employers now require a Masters in Engineering.
This is a degree which you can accomplish in slightly over a year at schools like UC Riverside online, once you have earned your baccalaureate degree.
So, what exactly does an automotive engineer do?
A Quick Glance at the Automotive Engineering Profession
Obviously, every new car that rolls off the assembly line was designed by a team of automotive engineers.
While other engineers also play an important part in the development of vehicles, the actual design of the vehicle is left for automotive engineers.
Not only does this profession design new vehicles, but they are the go-to team when an issue arises with a current design or there are engineering problems along the way.
Specific Duties Typical of Automotive Engineering
After achieving a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from University of California-Riverside, an automotive engineer may be placed in charge of a team of engineers in an administrative position.
Those engineers would then be responsible for:
- Research and development
- Plans, schematics and drawings
- Prepare estimates in cost – vital to a vehicle’s profitability
- Analysis and design related to environmental safety
- Prediction of vehicular behavior under certain conditions
- Research and develop procedures for testing motor vehicles
- Work alongside other engineers necessary for components within the vehicle
- Communicate and work with other teams such as those in marketing and management
And that is just a highlight of some of the duties which an automotive engineer might be responsible for.
In other words, every motor vehicle of every kind from trucks to cars to motorcycles was designed and developed by automotive engineers.
That’s what you are looking at in this profession and if you have a passion for cars or trucks and the mechanics that make them what they are, this is the job for you!
Median Pay for Automotive Engineers
According to the latest statistics from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, you would need to estimate what you could earn as a specialization within mechanical engineering.
As a specialty, it is possible that your median salary would be a bit higher than the median for a mechanical engineer simply because you have focused on a specialty within a field of study.
For example, surgeons tend to earn a higher salary than GPs because they can charge more for their services due to their specializations within the field of medicine.
So then, the median salary for mechanical engineers as of 2016 was listed at $84,190 (U.S.) annually or $40.48 hourly by the BLS. That is for an entry level mechanical engineer with a BS degree.
With a master’s degree, the pay would go up accordingly in most cases, so you can expect to earn at least 25% above the entry level mechanical engineer for two reasons.
Not only do you have a specialization within the field but a higher-level degree as well.
If you are looking for a career with a future and a better-than-average rate of pay, automotive engineering might be a great prospect for your future.