How to Steer Yourself Into the Autonomous Vehicle Industry

If you asked an expert to describe the future of the car industry, chances are that they’d start with autonomy. Few innovations are likely to have as big of an impact on the way we get around over the next decade, and demand for those who can work with self-driving technology will only continue to grow.

Autonomous Vehicle
Autonomous Vehicle

It’s worth noting that the implementation of autonomy reaches much further than just the consumer car industry. Public transport, logistics, mining, manufacturing, shipping, and aviation are just some of the sectors that are leveraging this technology. By 2024, the global autonomous systems and robotics industry is set to be worth $11.9 billion.

But apart from industry growth and a prevalence of opportunities in the field, are there any other reasons to pursue a career in the autonomous vehicle industry, as opposed to looking elsewhere? Well, here are some things to consider.

Why Pursue a Career in Autonomous Vehicles

Career in Autonomous Vehicles
Career in Autonomous Vehicles
  • Future-Proof:

It’s no secret that autonomy carries an innate tension when it comes to job security. McKinsey Global Institute predicts that 800 million human jobs will be lost to robots by 2030. Conversely, the potential for professionals in autonomy to future-proof their careers has never been greater. Your knowledge and skills will remain valuable for decades to come.

  • Interdisciplinary Field:

Something that makes the autonomous vehicles and robotics industry unique is the number of overlapping fields it encompasses. This includes:

There are very few fields out there that allow you to study and upskill in so many different cutting-edge techniques. Why does that matter? It diversifies your resume, making you more employable and giving you more freedom to pursue a range of different pathways, depending on what you desire most.

  • Low Barrier to Entry:

Unlike similar careers, many in the robotics and autonomy field require little in the way of undergraduate qualifications. Thanks to intense demand, shorter degrees are often a viable way in. These vocational courses will help you develop key skills while building a list of industry contacts. You’ll be surprised by how quickly you can start.

  • Salary:

It should come as no surprise that the majority of professionals in this field are paid well for what they do. According to Neuvoo, the average annual salary for an autonomous driving engineer is $125,000. In certain regions such as California, that number is closer to $180,000 per year.

Salary
Salary

So, how exactly does one get into the autonomous vehicle industry? The following steps will serve as a guideline for you to follow as you pursue your career.

Cover the Basics

A key aspect of almost any job in the driverless car industry is programming. This is because the main job of an engineer is to configure and refine the software that powers the vehicle. There are numerous resources available to help you cover the basics. Udacity, Codecademy, and freeCodeCamp are some great online options that come at little to no cost.

Know Before You Go

It’s all fair and well being a master of certain programming languages but knowing which ones to focus on the most can save you a great deal of time and money. According to data from Indeed, the following skills are most requested by companies looking for professionals in the autonomous vehicle industry:

  • Python
  • Image processing
  • C or C++
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Machine learning
  • Git
  • Java
  • Embedded Software
  • Shell script

Another factor that can aid you in securing a lucrative position is knowing where jobs in the industry are most readily available. Certain cities stand out as powerhouses for driverless car development. Here are the five metros listed by Indeed with the highest percentage of self-driving car job postings:

  1. San Jose, Sunnyvale and Santa Clara – California
  2. Detroit, Warren, and Dearborn – Michigan
  3. San Francisco, Oakland, and Hayward – California
  4. Pittsburgh – Pennsylvania
  5. Phoenix, Mesa, and Scottsdale – Arizona

Get Qualified

Perhaps the greatest stepping-stone towards securing a career in the autonomous vehicle industry is obtaining a relevant degree. While the barrier to entry for this sector may be relatively low, having an esteemed and recognized qualification will go a long way in helping you land a lucrative position from the start.

Get Qualified
Get Qualified

These days, it isn’t necessary to study a broad range of disciplines to become qualified. There are now courses designed specifically to equip you with the technical expertise required to work with autonomous vehicles and robotics. What’s more is that they can be completed entirely online, thus allowing you to work or study other subjects at the same time.

It’s worth noting that even a Master of Science in Advanced Mobility can be completed in as little as two years. But as we touched on earlier, the ability to complete the course online means that you can use your undergraduate degree to start working while you study. For more information on one of these courses, click here.

Work on Your Own Projects

A great way to boost your resume while you study is to work on your own robotics projects in your spare time. There are a plethora of online resources available to help you obtain the necessary software and code required for a project. Investing your time into this can show employers your competence and commitment to your career.

Start Networking

Whether it’s in the workplace, at trade shows or on the internet, the autonomous vehicle industry and engineering sector as a whole are full of professionals who can help you get the most out of your career.

Autonomous Vehicle
Autonomous Vehicle

If there are any local meetups or events related to your industry, be sure to attend them and form some connections. You might find anything from a valuable piece of advice to an exciting new employment opportunity.

Conclusion

According to the Institution of Engineering and Technology, almost half of all engineers believe that people starting in the industry have insufficient practical experience. So, be sure to ask around and see if any local companies can help you with part-time work or an internship.

Coupled with the above steps, you can quickly and easily secure a lucrative and rewarding position as an autonomous vehicle engineer. Good luck!