The automotive industry continues to be known as one of the most important industries in the United States, creating over 7 million jobs, and paying over $500 billion in annual compensation to automotive employees. Over the last decade, the needs for various types of automotive engineers have fluctuated. As technology changes and EPA regulations change, so do the needs of our automotive OEM’s. Some engineering fields are in high demand, while others continue to diminish over time. A more appropriate title for this article may even be “The Fastest Growing Engineering Initiatives” because it is the big initiatives that demand a vast variety of engineers to support them.
One of the largest initiatives increasing the need for engineers includes improving fuel efficiency and reducing emissions. The EPA and NHTSA set standards to reduce greenhouse gases and improve fuel economy for cars and light trucks, model years 2017 – 2025. By 2025, every carmaker’s fleet would have to average 54.5 miles per gallon. These initiatives require various, significant changes to vehicles, and various engineering skill sets to complete the tasks. An obvious need for Design and Powertrain Engineers will be a large factor in this initiative, but also have to consider the need for CFD Engineers, Materials Engineers, and environmental engineers as we work to make the bodies and engines lightweight and safer for the environment.
Advances in automotive technology also create ample opportunities for various types of security engineers. Vehicles are becoming more connected to the internet, wireless networks, roadside infrastructure, and other vehicles, making cybersecurity more and more important to keep the vehicle operating safely, and the occupants safe inside. Risks include theft of personal information, or possibly another source taking control of a vehicle and causing an accident.
The need for safety engineering increases as we strive to improve passenger protection and vehicle crash-worthiness. Newer systems such as Driver Assistance for crash avoidance includes features like automatic braking, sensors, cameras, tire pressure monitoring, traction control, and automated parking to help protect the driver and continue to become more and more technologically advanced, which increases the need for engineers in various fields within the safety jurisdiction. Crash-worthiness includes improved seat-belts, airbags, windshields, and even pedestrian protection systems.
All three of these initiatives revolve in some way around technological advances in our automobiles. Most are for safety, but some are pure convenience. The need increases for Telematics Engineers, Infotainment Engineers, Electrical Engineers, and Designers to create these new and advanced automobiles and systems, improving and introducing new technologies year after year.
There are currently over 130,000 engineering jobs that need to be filled across the United States. There is no right or wrong field to study when pursuing engineering. Specific engineering roles tend to be cyclical and phase in and out as demands change. For most types of engineers, the demand from employers appears to be strong, and it is predicted to remain that way for many years to come.