The top seven most popular jobs in the automotive industry
The automotive industry has long been at the forefront of technological development. Right now, it’s in one of its most exciting phases ever. That means there are all kinds of exciting job opportunities in the industry. At the heart of the industry, Emma Tyrer, Head of Sales and Marketing at Walker Movements provides insight into some of the most popular automotive jobs grouped by their key skills.
1) People-facing jobs
Most jobs in the automotive industry require some level of technical skills along with interpersonal skills. There are, however, some jobs that lean very much towards the “people” side. Possibly the most obvious example of a people-facing job in the automotive industry is the role of a driving instructor. Driving instructors do have technical skills but they are essentially teachers.
Project managers can also be much more people-facing than technical, at least in some roles. If you want to progress to more senior positions it generally helps to have at least some technical knowledge. That said, it is often possible to learn on the job and/or boost your knowledge through self-study.
The automotive industry tends to have a lot of roles in sales, marketing and event management. Skills in these areas tend to transfer very well across industries. That said, each industry will have its own dynamics so it’s advisable to learn about them before approaching a company.
2) Management jobs
Management roles can be very people-facing. They can also be fairly standardized across industries. For example, HR managers in the automotive industry perform more or less the same function as they do in any other industry. In the automotive industry, however, there are a lot of management jobs that do require a high level of technical skills as well as people-facing skills.
For example, process managers, systems managers and quality assurance managers will all probably have started out as engineers. Only once they’ve had a thorough grounding in the technicalities of the job will they progress to managing other engineers.
3) Design jobs
Designing a car used to be about getting the exterior and the interior just right. This is still hugely important. Now, however, there is a third element to consider. That’s the user interface. The traditional steering wheel, gear stick and pedals are still the main ways of controlling a car. Modern drivers, however, expect a lot of assistance from technology, even in entry-level vehicles.
This means that there are now a lot of jobs in the automotive industry which revolve around making technology safe, effective and easy to use. These roles include autonomous-driving engineers, interaction designers and software developers.
All automotive design jobs hinge on the ability to think about what a typical driver needs and wants from a vehicle. This is likely to vary greatly depending on the type of vehicle being purchased. For example, someone buying a tough SUV for off-roading is likely to have very different needs and wants from someone buying a sport’s car.
The designer’s job is to deliver as much as possible of what the driver needs and wants while staying within budget.
4) Development jobs
Designers work largely in theory. Developers take those theories and see how well they work in practice. A lot of the time, adjustments will be required. This means that a typical project will go backwards and forwards between design and development until everyone’s happy that it can go forward to manufacture.
A developer’s job is therefore basically to test a prototype and analyse the results. Over the years, this process has become much more scientific. Now, the people involved with it tend to be specialists in data analytics. Entry-level roles tend to be for generalists. More senior roles, by contrast, tend to become increasingly specialized.
5) Manufacturing jobs
Modern automotive manufacturing is now performed by a combination of machinery and skilled human operators. This combination is likely to stay in place over the long term. What is, however, always changing is the nature of the machinery and hence the skills needed to operate it.
Currently, the automotive industry is very much focused on making its vehicles more sustainable. Part of this process involves reducing the amount of fuel they need. This also makes them more cost-effective to run and that is very appealing to a lot of drivers. Lighter cars need less fuel but there’s limited scope for lightening cars using metal components. That means looking for new materials.
This is a large part of the reason why the automotive industry has been turning to plastic. Replacing metal components with plastic ones eliminates a lot of weight. It can also make the production process both faster and lower-cost. Plastic may even be able to speed up the development process. For example, 3D printing could be used to create components for prototypes.
6) Maintenance and repair jobs
Maintenance and repair jobs can vary from entry-level mechanic roles to highly specialist roles. This means that there’s a job for you regardless of your level of experience or interests. For example, if you like problem-solving and aren’t afraid of getting your hands (very) dirty you might love a job as a general automotive mechanic.
If you’re detail-orientated and happy to get right into the nuts and bolts of complex machinery, then you might enjoy a job as an engine reconditioner. In fact, if you can name a part of a car, there’s almost certainly a job that specializes in it. If, however, there’s one in-demand skill area that stands out from the others right now, it’s the area of electrical skills.
Automotive electricians have been becoming more highly sought-after for quite some time. Even before the switch to electric vehicles started gathering pace, cars were becoming more electrified. With the move away from carbon-based-fuel vehicles and towards electric vehicles, automotive technicians are now even more in demand.
7) Driving jobs
Driving jobs tend to be associated with the logistics and transport industries rather than the automotive industry. There are, however, some driving roles within the automotive industry itself. These tend to be either in development or in repair. The competition for test-driving jobs is often fierce. In addition to the prestige (and fun) of the role itself, these roles can act as training for motorsports drivers.
Driving jobs in the repair sector, by contrast, are often easier to get although they can be just as fun. If you only want to drive, then towing may be for you. If, however, you are happy to learn some technical skills, then you could be a mobile repair (or service) technician.
Author Emma Tyrer is the Head of Sales and Marketing of Walker Movements, who are specialists in quality second-hand, used trucks and trailers and are global leaders in the trucking industry.
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