What Is Mechanical Engineering in the Automotive Industry?
Updated December 15, 2022
If you have a background in mechanical engineering, you may consider working in the automotive industry. This industry includes businesses such as car and truck manufacturers, private automotive dealers and car repair shops. Learning what to expect when working in this industry may help you decide if it's a good fit for you.
In this article, we discuss several careers you can pursue in the automotive industry that relate to mechanical engineering and provide tips to help you know what to expect.
What is mechanical engineering in the automotive industry?
Mechanical engineering in the automotive industry is key to developing new types of vehicles, updating models, repairing existing vehicles and implementing new functionalities and safety features. There are many mechanical engineers that work on design, manufacturing and maintenance teams for all the major automotive manufacturers. If you have a degree in mechanical engineering, working in the automotive industry is a natural path to take that can lead to exciting career opportunities.
9 mechanical engineering jobs in the automotive industry
There are several types of positions that professionals with backgrounds in mechanical engineering have in the automotive industry. Here's a description of each with their average yearly salary. For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, visit indeed.com/salaries.
National average salary: $54,009 per year
Primary duties: Automotive technicians are responsible for the maintenance of all mechanical systems, engines, pumps and other components in production vehicles. They are also responsible for repairing damaged or broken parts and providing routine inspection reports to ensure the safe operation of a vehicle. They may work for an automotive manufacturer, a private auto repair shop or an automotive dealer.
Read more: Learn About Being an Automotive Technician
National average salary: $71,847 per year
Primary duties: Mechanical designers are responsible for the design of all new models and prototypes of vehicles. They are the people who determine a vehicle's structural layout, the type of materials, the size and the weight. They are also responsible for determining the function and performance of a vehicle.
National average salary: $78,117 per year
Primary duties: Quality assurance engineers are responsible for the design, development and implementation of efficient processes and procedures for testing, developing and implementing new components or parts. They help ensure that they meet manufacturer and customer expectations. They also oversee the testing of new models or designs to ensure that they are functional and can work properly.
National average salary: $78,202 per year
Primary duties: Design engineers are responsible for the design of all models and prototypes of a vehicle. They are responsible for the selection and evaluation of materials, components, systems, controls and systems integration. They design components to specifications provided by product development teams or other engineers.
Read more: Learn About Being a Design Engineer
National average salary: $79,265 per year
Primary duties: Project engineers are responsible for overseeing the design, development, testing and implementation of new products or new models for a vehicle intended for mass production. They are involved in the design and development of manufacturing processes that their team can use across many vehicles. Many of their daily responsibilities involve strategic planning, facilitating team meetings and analyzing productivity.
National average salary: $81,148 per year
Primary duties: Manufacturing engineers are responsible for the design, planning and execution of new manufacturing processes and equipment for the mass production of a vehicle. They develop new production automation systems, create processes and create product specifications. The goal of many manufacturing engineering projects is to improve the efficiency and productivity of manufacturing processes.
National average salary: $83,751 per year
Primary duties: Mechanical engineers are responsible for the design, planning and execution of new automotive components. They research and develop new designs and technologies for existing or new vehicles. They are responsible for developing processes that their team can use in the assembly of a vehicle or in the manufacturing of components.
Read more: Learn About Being a Mechanical Engineer
National average salary: $85,551 per year
Primary duties: Process engineers are responsible for the design of and implementation of processes that help the manufacturing process. They are responsible for developing and implementing new manufacturing processes to reduce costs. Process engineers also implement new materials, components or procedures and may help their team improve efficiency.
National average salary: $94,674 per year
Primary duties: Automation engineers are responsible for the design, development and implementation of automated systems that help manufacturing processes run efficiently. This includes the design and development of modular components that their team can easily integrate into the manufacturing process. Automation engineers may also develop or modify existing production or testing equipment to make it more efficient or help implement new methods.
What to expect as a mechanical engineer in the automotive industry
The work environment for those performing roles related to mechanical engineering in the automotive industry may vary depending on the role. Many professionals, such as automotive technicians, may work in auto repair shops, while others may work in manufacturing facilities for new vehicles. Here are some tips that may help you know what to expect when working in the automotive industry in a mechanical engineering role:
You may work with and meet many people and your relationships with these people can be very important in your success. Finding ways to work well with others can help you build strong relationships and find new opportunities for career growth.
Working as an automotive engineer or a designer, you may often travel to trade shows or conferences to help promote your company's new products or technologies. You may also have the option to travel overseas to help establish relationships with international companies that are interested in purchasing your company's products or manufacturing them under license.
Many professionals spend the majority of their time working on projects they've designed themselves or with a team, meaning that much of the work is creative and innovative.
You may work with many professionals with various educational backgrounds in different types of engineering, mathematics and physics. You may also work with those with a breadth of professional experience, such as several years of hands-on experience constructing new vehicles.
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