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How to Transition Your Career into the EV and Connected Car Industry

The surge of electric and connected vehicle sales is a thrilling development for Engineers who love working on things that move. With this growth comes the need for a workforce that can meet consumer demand – and the EV and CAV industry is crying out for more engineering talent.

If you have engineering experience, a transition into the growing EV and CAV market could mark a new and exciting chapter for your career.

In this guide, our EV headhunters provide an overview of transferrable engineering skills for this sector and a few tips on how to score jobs when you’re ready to make a move.

Soaring EV and CAV Demand Drives Job Growth

The current electric vehicle (EV) market is hot - there was a 62% uptick in European sales in the year to June 2023. Based on volumes sold in January 2024, Germany took out the top spot with 24% new EV registrations, followed by France, Belgium and the Netherlands.

The UK is not to be outdone, leading the way when it comes to connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) with a host of major projects in the pipeline. Much of these are spearheaded by a £100m government investment into the industry, creating 23,500 direct connected vehicles jobs, with a further 14,600 indirect jobs created in the supply chain.

An especially large place for Engineers exists within this landscape. Whilst the EV and CAV industry have some sector-specific roles, such as Battery Systems Engineer and Sensor Fusion Engineer, there remains a great need for Engineers from other fields, ones who possess transferable skills.

Here is a rundown of the valuable cross-domain skills different types of Engineers have. They’re all highly in demand across the EV and CAV industries:

Electrical Engineers

Electrical Engineers play a pivotal role in designing, developing and optimising electric propulsion systems, battery management systems, power electronics and EV architectures, as well as for CAV connectivity, sensing and control.

Transferable skills: Circuit design, power electronics, control systems, embedded systems, programming, data analysis, project management.

Mechanical Engineers

Mechanical Engineers are essential for designing and improving components such as chassis, suspension systems, cooling and thermal management systems to enhance EV performance and efficiency. In addition, they ensure mechanical systems are compatible with CAV technology, including sensor mounting and vehicle dynamics optimisation.

Transferable skills: CAD modelling, finite element analysis, vehicle dynamics/thermodynamics, fluid dynamics, materials science, project management, problem-solving.

Automotive Engineers

Automotive Engineers are valued for their expertise in vehicle dynamics, aerodynamics, safety systems, and regulatory compliance, making them crucial for enhancing the overall performance and safety of EVs and CAVs.

Transferable skills: Vehicle dynamics, aerodynamics, systems thinking, safety regulations, CAD modelling, testing and validation, technical documentation, problem-solving.

Software Engineers

Software Engineers focus on developing embedded software, controlling algorithms and vehicle firmware for EV propulsion, battery management, and vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication. With CAVs, they contribute to the design of autonomous driving systems, which rely on AI for perception, decision-making and control.

Transferable skills: Programming languages (e.g., Python, Java), machine learning, software development lifecycle knowledge, version control, debugging, problem-solving.

Chemical Engineers

These Engineers deal with EV battery technology primarily in the realms of research and development, ensuring optimal battery performance, safety and regulatory compliance through testing and analysis. They also collaborate with other teams to advance EV technology and sustainability.

Transferable skills: Materials science, electrochemistry process optimisation, data analysis, regulatory compliance and meeting environmental standards.

These categories merely scratch the surface when it comes to transferrable skills needed for E-mobility jobs and connected vehicles jobs. Additionally, we expect growing demand for Systems Engineers, Control Systems Engineers, Safety Engineers, and Manufacturing Engineers in the coming years.

Let’s now turn to specific advice about how to break into the CAV and EV jobs market.

Rev Up Your EV and CAV Knowledge

Transferable skills can form the bedrock of engineering expertise for the EV and CAV industry, but acquiring domain-specific knowledge is essential.

The first step along the path to securing an EV or CAV job is to take a baseline of your knowledge. Consider how well you understand the industry you’re most interested in. Have you got a good grasp on the basics? If so, you may go further by learning how the sector is connected to - and increasingly dependent - on other areas, for instance, EVs and the energy industry.

As you delve into what you do and don’t know, you can learn more about advancements in technology, be it sensors or perception systems, or bidirectional charging. Research the industry players, emerging trends, regulatory landscape, and potential challenges associated with development and deployment.

As an Engineer who well knows the importance of continuous learning, there are many avenues you can use to shore up your knowledge. This includes online courses and certifications, independent research, joining relevant online forums and networking in person and on professional sites.

If you haven’t already, consider test-driving an EV or CAV. They handle differently on the road to internal combustion vehicles and getting a feel for this is an important part of developing your knowledge base.

Review Your Skillset & Tweak Your CV Accordingly

To craft your CV for jobs in this industry, start by outlining your core engineering and cross-domain skills. Emphasise your skills according to how transferable they are to the EV and CAV industry, highlighting them with examples of projects you’ve worked on.

Be sure to review your soft skills. Employers are increasingly placing a higher value on non-technical competencies, such as communication skills, sometimes over practical experience or technical proficiency.

When rewriting your CV to specifically target the EV or CAV markets, remember to include the right job-related keywords to get your resume past applicant tracking software.

Engaging with a professional recruiter at this point can be extremely beneficial. They can not only ensure your job applications are optimised for the roles you’re interested in, but can support you with interview preparation.

The right recruiter will have relationships with a wide network of employers in the industry. They can connect you with opportunities you may not come across in your solo search.

Specialised Support in Your CAV or EV Jobs Search

With a considered game plan and understanding of your skill set, it’s certainly possible to break into the EV and CAV industry from an adjacent engineering domain.

To fast-track your entry into the growing EV and CAV sector, look no further than Fields and Rudd – we’d love to connect with a host of new and exciting EV jobs, E mobility jobs, and connected vehicles jobs across the UK and Europe

We can help you leverage your transferable skills when applying for EV jobs or connected vehicles jobs to boost your chances of success. Please get in touch to see how we can support you in this exciting career transition.