The Motor Industry

Welcome to the motor industry. Begin driving your career forward!

The UK’s roads are busy – we drive around 30 million cars, and they all need repairing, cleaning and maintaining. Or the new ones need building. So there are plenty of opportunities for gaining skills and finding work in the automotive sector. 

The motor industry covers everything from your local used car dealership to the high-tech factories making supercars or luxury vehicles (and the companies behind them, like Mercedes or Ferrari). It employs a little under a million people and because demand is high, new jobs are being created all the time. There’s lots of room for progression: you could end up running a dealership, supervise the birth of supercars, or even have your own business restoring classic models. Prefer motorbikes? The same opportunities apply to them, too. 

What can I do? 

There are all kinds of cars out there, with all kinds of jobs to match. Careers in the motor industry start right at the beginning of the process with concepts and designs for new models and go right to the pinnacle of automotive engineering: many Formula One teams are based here in the UK, so if you’re interested in motorsport, you never know where your career might take you. 

In between there are roles right across the manufacturing process. You could be putting cars together using the latest tools of the trade; fitting them out to a high standard; or managing a sales team in a showroom. That’s just for starters, as there are also engines to be built, individual parts to be made, vehicles to be painted and much more. 

Once cars are on the road, there are also customer service roles, such as working in a garage to replace tyres, batteries and other parts. You might also be in management or development, helping a car manufacturer operate from day to day, or perhaps working on the next generation of cars. 

Motor skills

The motor industry needs a range of skills to keep it running smoothly. If you’re working in the manufacturing process you’ll need to be good with your hands, while a salesperson is obviously going to need to be a great communicator. A roadside recovery technician, on the other hand, will need to understand how vehicles work and be able to work out what’s gone wrong, while a senior manager at head office will need the same kind of understanding, but about the industry as a whole. 

Motoring careers

Here are just some of the jobs available in the motor industry:

Maintenance and repair – vehicle service technician, motorcycle technician, auto electrical technician, mobile electrical installation diagnostic technician, lift truck diagnostic technician, assistance / recovery technician

Body and paint – mechanical and electrical trim technician, body building technician, panel technician, paint technician

Fitting and parts – fast fit technician / motor vehicle fitter, tyre technician, parts sales representative, vehicle parts adviser

There are also sales positions, as well as senior and management roles available in all parts of the industry. 

Training

There are plenty of different ways to get the skills you need for the automotive industry. Get your motor running…

Work-based & work-related qualifications 

Relevant NVQ and BTEC programmes include:

  • Engineering
  • Automotive engineering
  • Automotive management
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering

If you’re wanting a management or business-related role, other programmes in accountancy,  finance or management will also open the door. Don’t forget: BTECs etc. can also pave the way for a degree. 

Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships are offered by some big-name employers including Audi, Land Rover and the AA, as well as local businesses. There are relevant Apprenticeships at three levels:

Level Two (Intermediate) – equivalent to GCSEs / Standard Grades

Level Three (Advanced) – equivalent to A Levels / Highers

Level Four (Higher) – equivalent to Foundation Degree / Advanced Highers

Apprenticeships include:

  • Autocare technician
  • Accident repair technician
  • Automotive glazing technician
  • Bus and coach engineering technician
  • Heavy vehicle service and maintenance technician
  • Motor vehicle service and maintenance technician (light vehicle)
  • Motorcycle technician (repair and maintenance)
  • Vehicle damage assessor
  • Vehicle damage mechanical, electrical and trim (MET) technician
  • Vehicle damage paint technician
  • Vehicle damage panel technician

There’s also a Degree Apprenticeship in Automotive Engineering.

A Levels, Highers and Bachelors Degrees 

Useful A Levels / Scottish Highers might include: 

  • science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects
  • business studies
  • automotive engineering

Already know that a degree is the way you want to break into the sector? Head to UCAS and find out what qualifications (A Levels / Scottish Highers / Scottish Advanced Highers / IB modules) you’ll need for the course that interests you. 

Industry-specific degree programmes in this area include Bachelors programmes in Automotive Technology, Automotive Management and Automotive Engineering; you could also consider business and finance degrees. It’s a broad industry though, so graduates in disciplines from design to politics would find their skills in demand.

Life in the motor industry 

Motor vehicles come in all shapes and sizes and so do the career opportunities around them. 

You might be on the factory floor working alongside high tech robots to assemble vehicles; travelling around your local area to help people who have broken down and get them on the road again; charming customers and persuading them to buy their cars from you; or eventually managing a whole team in any of those places. You could also be looking after a fleet of lorries or buses, or even working with a motor racing team. 

If you’re on the manufacturing side you’ll need to be conscientious and work to high standards to make sure cars meet all the required regulations. Likewise, if you’re changing tyres, replacing batteries or fiddling with brakes, you’ll need to make sure everything is safe. 

Higher up, you could find work in the head offices of major car manufacturers, perhaps running a whole region of dealerships, or working on the launch of a brand new model. Like all big companies, automotive firms have marketing, finance, IT, HR and legal teams, as well as management roles unique to the industry, so there’s plenty to aim for. 

But whether you’re in a car dealership specialising in one make of car, joining the pit crew of a motor racing team or working in the international office of a luxury car maker, you’ll be gaining in confidence, learning professional skills, and steering your career in the right direction. 

You could work in…

  • Roadside repair and recovery
  • New and used car dealerships
  • Garages
  • Specialist tyre centres
  • Manufacturing sites

25,000 new jobs will be created in automotive manufacturing to build connected and self-driving cars.  Over 856,000 people are employed across the broader UK Automotive Industry. The automotive industry is a vital part of the UK economy accounting for more than £82 billion turnover and £20.2 billion value added.

References: Motorsport Industry Association, SMMT

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