Automotive Engineers

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About the Job

Develop new or improved designs for vehicle structural members, engines, transmissions, or other vehicle systems, using computer-assisted design technology. Direct building, modification, or testing of vehicle or components.

It is also Called

  • Vehicle Controls Engineer
  • Technical Specialist
  • Technical Services Manager
  • Senior Project Engineer
  • Senior Engineering Team Leader
  • Quality Engineer
  • Quality Assurance Engineer
  • Product Engineer
  • Powertrain Engineer
  • Powertrain Control Systems Engineer
View All

What They Do

  • Research computerized automotive applications, such as telemetrics, intelligent transportation systems, artificial intelligence, or automatic control.
  • Design vehicles for increased recyclability or use of natural, renewable, or recycled materials in vehicle construction.
  • Build models for algorithm or control feature verification testing.
  • Develop specifications for vehicles powered by alternative fuels or alternative power methods.
  • Develop or integrate control feature requirements.
  • Develop or implement operating methods or procedures.
  • Design control systems or algorithms for purposes such as automotive energy management, emissions management, or increased operational safety or performance.
  • Calibrate vehicle systems, including control algorithms or other software systems.
  • Read current literature, attend meetings or conferences, or talk with colleagues to stay abreast of new automotive technology or competitive products.
  • Develop calibration methodologies, test methodologies, or tools.


People who work in this occupation generally have the interest code: RI.

This means people who work in this occupation generally have Realistic interests, but also prefer Investigative environments.

Work Values

People who work in this occupation generally prize Achievement, but also value Working Conditions and Recognition in their jobs.

Things They Need to Know

  • Engineering and Technology - Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
  • Design - Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • Physics - Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.

Things They Need to Be Able to Do

  • Complex Problem Solving - Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Judgment and Decision Making - Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

Education Required

Most of these occupations require a four-year bachelor's degree, but some do not.


In 2016, the average annual wage in Pennsylvania was $86,270 with most people making between $52,410 and $126,690


avg. annual growth

During 2014, this occupation employed approximately 10,390 people in Pennsylvania. It is projected that there will be 11,160 employed in 2024.

This occupation will have about 77 openings due to growth and about 333 replacement openings for approximately 410 total annual openings.

Pennsylvania Department of Education