Automotive engineers design, test and develop vehicles or components from incept stage all the way to the production and are involved in improving the Automobile in response to customer feedback once on the market. Specializing in areas like aerodynamics, alternative fuels, chassis, electronics, emissions, manufacturing, materials, rapid prototyping, vehicle and pedestrian safety or supply chain management. They use both traditional methods and state-of-the-art technology to engineer vehicles to increasingly high standards. Also they use design intuition to appeal to the every day soccer mom or the speed craving mid-life crisis man.
They are not directly involved in concept development or manufacture, but they will work with stylists and production engineers to make sure that the whole process is efficient and planned well. Typical work activities of an automotive engineer consist of working on the development of land-based vehicles and their activities are either, design new products or revising existing ones, research and development, finding solutions to engineering problems, or production of new cars. Most graduates start with a formal training program that lasts about 12-24 months, which is a series of placements in different departments in the many.
During this time the graduate gains a general knowledge into other areas of the company and can build up a bunch of contacts. At the end of the program, the graduate chooses an area to specialize in and begins learning the technical info required to start his career, working independently and as part of larger teams. Typical starting salary is around $30,000 - $35,000, depending on the employer, relevance of work experience and class of degree (salary data collected July 04). After four years in the industry, automotive engineers can expect to be earning $65,000 - $75,500, depending on the role.
Engineers in managerial roles can earn around $80,000 - $90,500 (salary data collected July 04). Contract work is popular and will get you more money. Also a benefit for the manufacturers is lower prices of specific car models. Usually bigger companies will pay more especially to graduates then smaller ones will but the smaller companies offer more benefits and experience. Most engineers will usually work nine to five, unless deadlines or special projects need more hours. Engineers working in manufacturing may need to work occasional shifts, although not as a common feature of the job.