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What Are the Different Types of Automotive Engineering Jobs?

By Christine Hudson
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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Automotive engineering jobs can vary greatly in titles and responsibilities, but there are some common types. Electrical, software, and mechanical safety are common categories for automotive engineering jobs, but each specific function within those categories may be very different. Common titles include product engineer, manufacturing engineer, and development engineer.

Product engineers are typically in charge of testing and altering mechanical components of the vehicle, such as the brakes. Most times, these engineers are responsible for the design of the parts they work with, and can therefore test them extensively on points of usability and safety. All the while, notes are made of what changes need to be made before the parts can safely be placed on a vehicle which is sold to the public. This is one of the most important automotive engineering jobs because not only do these engineers need to be sure the parts fit within strict safety guidelines, but also that they are appropriate for everyday use.

Manufacturing engineers are less often responsible for designing auto parts and components, and more focused on making them. These engineering jobs use designs given to them and figure out how to make the specified parts correctly. Many times, designs may need to be tweaked and changed throughout the building process to make them practical and cost effective. It is the general responsibility of manufacturing engineers to identify necessary changes and make them.

Development engineers have the complex responsibility of finding ways to make all of the individual parts work together in one vehicle. Top concerns for automotive engineering jobs in this field are how all systems interact with each other, and how the overall vehicle looks and operates. Drivability, cost, and comfort are all very important elements for these engineers to consider along with maintaining a certain level of safety throughout the vehicle. A development engineer needs to be able to identify issues in the vehicle systems and come up with ways of fixing the problem before the vehicle is put on the market.

Each area of automotive engineering also has specific titles. For example, brake and alternator engineers are within the product engineer category, and concept and safety engineers are titles within development operations. This way, all automotive engineering jobs require basic knowledge and skills, as well as highly specified knowledge of certain vehicle aspects. Qualified specialists in each area of design generally means the end result is as safe and practical as possible.

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Discussion Comments

By Monika — On Sep 28, 2011

@Azuza - I definitely wouldn't want to be the one responsible for ensuring a cars safety, that's for sure. But then again I don't have a degree in engineering either!

I do think it would be cool to design the car parts. It would be neat to see cars driving around on parts that you designed. Too bad the person that designs the parts has to also test them for safety!

By Azuza — On Sep 27, 2011

I think being a product engineer must be kind of high pressure job. Imagine being responsible for ensuring a products safety before it's released to the public!

If you made a mistake, it could hurt people, or even kill them. Not to mention result in a costly recall for the car company.

I guess it's important for companies to hire qualified product engineers then!

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