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Level Up Your Engineering Career in 2024

As the new year rolls around, now is an ideal time to revisit your career goals and determine what it will take to move the needle in 2024.

In this fast-paced industry, engineers benefit from being proactive about their professional development.

Whether you’re looking to move up a rung on the career ladder or simply sharpen your skills in the coming year, here are our best tips on how to level up your engineering career for 2024.

1. Re-Assess Your Technical Skills

Keeping your technical skills sharp is obviously a non-negotiable. With change coming thick and fast across multiple car tech domains, it’s worth considering how your skillset is shaping up for the new year. Mercer research shows the top general skills driving up pay in the automotive sector today are problem-solving and data analysis, whilst systems design has emerged as the top skill since 2022.

The following core skills are expected of automotive engineers today, according to Mercer:

·        Automotive technology: Autonomous vehicles (AV), electric vehicles (EV)

·        Programming: Machine learning, AI, C++, Matlab, Java, Python and others

·        Advanced electronics: Electrical/robotics engineering, car connectivity, human-machine interface (HMI) and infotainment related to communication interfaces and protocols

·        Secure carware: High-end mechanical design requires cybersecurity best practices to spoof-proof vehicles and safeguard owner’s information, requiring skills related to vulnerability scanning and assessment

2. Develop an Upskilling Strategy

After assessing your technical skills, it’s important to address any gaps. Whether this means refining your existing knowledge or learning a new programming language, here are some strategies to consider:

·        Obtain a Certification: Adding a certification relevant to software engineering AI, machine learning, cybersecurity to your CV could give it a boost to help you climb the engineering career ladder.

·        Attend Workshops and Conferences: Regular participation in industry workshops and conferences is a great way to stay updated on the latest technologies and connect with other professionals. These interactions are crucial – you never know who might open the door to your next position.

·        Engage in Practical learning: Where possible, involve yourself in hands-on automotive or software engineering projects that allow you to apply your skills in practical scenarios, whether this be through your current position or personal projects.

·        Seek a Mentorship or Become a Mentor: Look for a mentor with expertise in a specific area of automotive engineering to provide guidance and insights based on real-world experience. Becoming a mentor to a junior engineer can be equally transformative, enhancing your career journey and offering opportunities to refine your own knowledge.

·        Consider the ‘Greening’ of Your Skills: Automotive engineering has seen a fast-increasing demand for ‘green’ skills of over 11% since 2016/17. Upskilling in areas such as sustainable design, EV tech and environmentally friendly manufacturing processes will make your skillset more valuable, contributing significantly to the industry's shift towards sustainability and eco-conscious practices.

3. Volunteer

As we step into 2024, consider how you can give back to the automotive engineering community. Whether this means participating in sustainability initiatives or engaging in educational outreach programs to inspire the next generation of engineers, your involvement can have a lasting impact on both the industry and your own development. Additionally, these projects provide a valuable opportunity to practically hone your skills and network with other engineering professionals.

4. Grow Your Soft Skills

As an automotive engineer, your career path is already shaped by a rigorous focus on the technical.Yet as you set your sights on more senior or leadership positions, prioritising soft skills becomes equally, if not more, important. Here are the top soft skills you should consider enhancing for 2024:

·        Communication: Automotive engineers require the ability to effectively communicate across the full spectrum, from casual conversations to formal presentations. Focus on clearly presenting complex data to a wide audience and how to appeal to both technical and non-technical stakeholders. Regular practice through presentations and day-to-day engagement is key to honing this skill.

·        Ethical decision-making: As the industry navigates challenges around sustainability, autonomous technology and data privacy, engineers must balance technical possibilities with ethical considerations. Ensure that you’re carefully evaluating the possible outcomes of each decision, considering its impacts not only on an individual scale but also on a broader societal level.

·        Creative thinking: Creative thinking is a vital asset in the ever-evolving field of automotive engineering, especially as you move into more senior positions. To enhance your creative thinking, seek out new experiences and collaboration to ensure you’re always inspired.

·        Leadership: Reflect on how you're developing your leadership skills in your current position, even if you're not in an official managerial role. Demonstrating initiative, inspiring your peers and taking ownership of projects will exhibit your potential as a future leader, taking you a step closer to levelling up your engineering career for this year.

5. Consider Relocating

Although demand for engineering jobs is concentrated in London and the South East, its proportional share has rapidly declined since 2016-17, with engineering jobs outside of London on the rise. As you approach 2024, remain open to possibilities – your ideal job might be in a location you haven’t yet considered. For tips, check out our blog on how to apply for a job in a different location.

Take the Next Step with an Automotive Recruiter

From upskilling in green technologies to becoming a mentor, there are ample opportunities to grow professionally in 2024 in ways that are rewarding and enjoyable.Ready to take the next step toward advancing your engineering career in 2024? As a specialist automotive recruiter, Fields and Rudd understand the latest industry and job trends in automotive – please get in touch with us today to accelerate your career journey.