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Self-driving Car Engineer Salary: What You Can Expect in 2021

You may be interested in self-driving cars and curious about working with robotic systems or artificial intelligence. If so, consider becoming a self-driving car engineer. 

There are many types of jobs and employee training programs available to work on self-driving cars with leading companies. You can earn a great salary and experience fascinating knowledge-based opportunities.

Self-driving cars and related technologies have been in development for a long time. However, recent advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence have facilitated substantial progress in the self-driving car industry.   

What is the Salary for a Self-driving Car Engineer in 2021?

According to ZipRecruiter, the average salary for a self-driving car engineer in the U.S. is $71,488 in 2021. Salaries range from $33,000 (25th percentile) to $135,000 (90th percentile) and can vary based on skills, education, location, and experience. 

Careers Related to Self-driving Car Engineering

Self-driving car development programs at leading tech companies draw from industry experts across a range of professions. Job titles related to self-driving car engineering include:

  • Electrical engineer
  • Robotics engineer
  • Autonomous driving validation engineer
  • Controls and drives engineer
  • Sensor system engineer
  • Systems engineer

Glassdoor reports that average salary ranges for these related professions span $84,000-$120,000 in the U.S. and experienced individuals can earn as much as $200,000.

Self-driving Car Companies Operate Globally

Many global car manufacturers are actively working on autonomous vehicle technology. These include:

  • Waymo
  • General Motors
  • Mercedes-Benz
  • Tesla
  • Ford
  • Toyota
  • BMW

The global autonomous vehicle market was valued at $24.1 billion in 2019 with a projected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18% from 2020 to 2025. Job opportunities are available for self-driving car engineers and related professionals throughout the world.

Leading Self-driving Car Companies: Current Work

Leading players in the self-driving tech field include Alphabet’s Waymo, General Motors’ Cruise, Mercedes-Benz, and Tesla. 


Waymo currently offers a ride-hailing service, Waymo One, in Phoenix. With the Waymo mobile app, you can follow along as Waymo Driver transports you to your destination. 

Waymo is also developing Waymo Via — a form of Waymo Driver designed for Class 8 trucks, currently in testing phases throughout the Southwest U.S. and California. 

General Motors’ Cruise

Cruise is GM’s self-driving car company. Cruise recently raised $2 billion and now has a total company valuation of $30 billion. Self-driving car engineers at Cruise are focused on developing a ride-hailing fleet of fully autonomous vehicles for use in San Francisco.

Microsoft recently formed a new partnership with Cruise. Cruise and Microsoft will test Microsoft’s cloud- and edge computing platform, Azure, in the context of Cruise’s self-driving car technology.


The well-known German car company Mercedes-Benz is developing automated driver assistance technologies that fall into the Society for Automotive Engineer (SAE) International’s “Levels of Driving Automation” levels three and four. Mercedes-Benz plans automated vehicle product releases in Germany in the latter half of 2021 and later in the U.S.

Mercedes-Benz Research and Development North America (MBRDNA) has partnered with Udacity to build our Self-driving Car Engineer and Sensor Fusion Engineer Nanodegree programs.


Tesla frequently makes news headlines for their work on self-driving car technologies. The company currently equips all their new vehicles with an autopilot feature that enables level 2 automated driving. When autopilot is active, Tesla cars can automatically brake, steer, and accelerate within their own lanes.

Tesla plans to update their vehicles’ software systems with more automated features as they become available after additional research and development. Tesla uses integrated sensors such as cameras, ultrasonic sensors, and radar to detect and respond to environmental features like buildings, trees, and pedestrians.

These are just some of the companies actively developing self-driving cars and related technologies. There are many opportunities available for trained individuals in the self-driving car industry. You can learn more about self-driving car companies and related job opportunities via LinkedIn.

Earn Credentials to Become a Self-driving Car Engineer

Given the skill sets and salary estimates for the self-driving car engineer and related professions, you may be interested in learning more. Udacity offers programs to help individuals become self-driving car engineers:

Udacity also offers several related Nanodegree programs:

If you’re a curious person who wants to expand your career skill set and open doors to new opportunities in tech, consider registering for the Self-driving Car Engineer Nanodegree program today!

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