Back to Careers » Full Career Details
Also Known As
- Car Production Engineer
- Engineer, Automobile
- Vehicle Engineer
Automobile engineers design, test, develop and manufacture automotive products such as heavy and light vehicles. They help the automotive industry to meet new challenges, for example, making sure that vehicles are safe, environmentally friendly and fuel-efficient. They work not just on cars and commercial vehicles but also buses, coaches, tanks and racing cars.
Designing and developing a vehicle involves a very wide range of engineering knowledge. For example, automobile engineers use their knowledge of mechanical engineering , combustion, vehicle structures and aerodynamics . They also need knowledge of computers and electronic and electrical systems, which are all becoming increasingly sophisticated in modern vehicles. For example, some cars now have computer-controlled engine systems and digital display dashboards.
Some automobile engineers specialise in design (they may be known as design engineers). The average motor vehicle has around 10,000 individual parts and each must be designed, developed and manufactured. Design engineers need to take into account factors such as the strength, safety, efficiency, appearance and cost of parts. Many design engineers use computer-aided design (CAD) technology in their work, allowing them to create and change designs much more quickly than in the days of drawing boards. After design, they need to turn plans into prototypes. At this stage computer simulation and physical testing are carried out. Once the design has been approved the engineer plans and monitors the product process. If the design is not approved the engineer must go back to the 'drawing board' to alter the design.
Other automobile engineers specialise in research and development, (they may be known as research engineers). They must take into account factors such as cost, the safety and comfort of the driver including crash and safety testing (this is an aspect of ergonomics), fuel efficiency and environmental issues.
Research engineers work on both new and existing products. For example, they create new technologies such as electric batteries and bio-diesel engines. A lot of their work takes place in laboratories and workshops, although they may also work out in the open.
Automobile engineers also need to be commercially aware. They may work with manufacturers to plan full-scale production once all the testing has been completed. They are also involved in overseeing quality control.
Personal Qualities and Skills
Automobile engineers need knowledge of many different aspects of engineering, including mechanical engineering, combustion, aerodynamics , electrical and electronic systems and fuel technology.
You will need the ability to think in an orderly and logical way, as well as having imagination and a curious mind. Automobile engineers often work to deadlines, so you must be able to work under pressure.
Excellent communication skills are needed to work in a team with, for example, design engineers, research engineers, engineering technicians and manufacturers. Advanced computer skills are needed in this career, for example, to use computer-aided design technology or to work on sophisticated computer equipment in modern vehicles.
You need to have good analytical and problem solving skills. You must be able to prioritise and plan effectively. You also need to keep up to date with new development and regulations.
Pay and Opportunities
Entry starts at EUR25k to EUR30k a year. Pay rates vary within the industry and according to level of responsibility. This is a highly skilled and specialised job. Opportunities can exist abroad. Top earners can make over EUR75k a year.
Entry Routes and Training
Automobile engineers normally complete an appropriate engineering degree or diploma.
In Ireland automobile engineering is a mechanical specialisation. Mechanical engineering degrees, diplomas and certificates are offered at most Institutes of Technology and Universities throughout Ireland. Consult the prospectus of any of the Institutes of Technology or University to make sure the course you choose is appropriate to the branch of engineering you want to follow.Entrants may come from other engineering backgrounds, including Electronic Engineering.
Depending on their level of entry, automobile engineers can gain Chartered Engineer or Associate Engineer (A.Eng) status. These professional titles can be applied for after first gaining an accredited degree, diploma or certificate and then completing three or four years experience in the workplace.
The usual route to A.Eng status is to complete an accredited Engineering degree and undertake three years postgraduate experience. Another way is to complete an approved National or Technician Diploma in Engineering or equivalent and follow through with four years postgraduate experience.
Those who hold the National Certificate in Engineering can qualify to become Technician Members of the Institution of Engineers of Ireland. Following three years experience a member may then obtain the title Eng Tech IEI. The usual route to Eng Tech status is to complete an approved National or Technician Certificate in Engineering or equivalent and undertake three years relevant experience.
All titles are highly regarded by employers throughout industry.
After gaining your certificate, diploma or degree you will undergo Initial Professional Development (CPD). This involves three to four years of appropriate training and responsible experience in the workplace, followed by a Professional Review with interview to assess your competence and your commitment to Continued Professional Development (CPD).
Alternative Routes to IEI Membership are available.
If you hold an engineering-related qualification in such disciplines as physics, technology or computing and can demonstrate that you have suitable knowledge and expertise in a branch of engineering over a period of three or more years, you may apply for membership through the IEI's 'individual case procedure'.
Another way to qualify for membership is through the IEI's examination system, provided you meet specified entry standards, to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of engineering science and technology.
The syllabus, which is based on a programme comprising of a range of modules to cater for the different engineering specialisations, involves two levels - Part 1 and Part 2. By holding other technological qualifications, you could be entitled to exemptions from certain subjects.
The usual qualification for entry into this career is an engineering degree, however, it may be possible to enter with a National Certificate or Diploma.
Please see http://www.cao.ie/courses.php for information on course qualifications.
Application for admission to undergraduate courses must be made in accordance with the regulations and procedures and timetable described in the CAO Handbook.
The Handbook is confined to giving information on how to apply for admission to the relevant institutions. Applicants should not attempt to complete the application form without first referring to the information literature on courses, which is available from the institutions to which application is to be made.
Candidates are recommended to check the prospectuses from the individual institutions for course details and specific entry requirements
There is no formal upper age barrier for entry into this profession.
Entry to relevant training may be possible through universities or colleges that relax normal academic entry requirements for suitable mature applicants. Most academic institutions define people aged 23 years or older as mature candidates.
Some Institutes of Technology actively encourage the entry of tradespersons who hold a Senior Trade Certificate in an appropriate trade, with endorsements in Mathematics and Science.
There are other pathways through which mature candidates can register as Chartered and Associate Engineers, and Engineering Technicians. If a candidate with no formal qualifications in engineering can demonstrate suitable knowledge and expertise in a branch of engineering over a significant number of years (15-20 years), and has a track record of functioning at a professional engineering level, membership may be possible through the IEI's 'Mature route procedure'
Contact your local Intreo Centre or Employment Services office for Career Guidance, planning and support that will help you make informed decisions about the best career direction for you
- Guide to Careers in Engineering
Hobsons Publishing plc
Labour Market Information
Qualifax: Ireland’s National Learners’ Database
The relationship between gases (especially in the air) and solid things that move through them. The main use of aerodynamics is in the design of aircraft.
To do with the design, manufacture, operation or sale of cars.
A qualification awarded by a university or college of higher education, following a course of study. A degree usually takes three years full-time to complete.
The branch of engineering dealing with the design, development, operation and repair of machinery.
Back to top