As the self-driving car industry grows, so too does the need for qualified engineers who have proficiency in machine learning, artificial intelligence, and self-driving car engineering to push this technology forward. 

Here at Udacity, our founder, Sebastian Thurn, is a passionate trailblazer in the world of self-driving car technology. So it’s no surprise that we would offer educational programs and courses that support this innovative and fast-growing technology.  

Here’s how you can land a self-driving car engineer job in 2021, and the skills needed to thrive in this hot career.

The Self-driving Car Industry in 2021

In early 2020, The Guardian reported that 2020 would be the year self-driving cars would come to the forefront. Despite that proclamation, 2020 wasn’t what anyone expected, and the technology for self-driving cars hasn’t yet been perfected. 

It’s currently predicted that the global market for self-driving cars will be worth $60 billion by 2030. Considering the industry was estimated at just under $6 billion in 2018, it’s expected that the coming decade will see major advancements in this industry. 

The future of self-driving cars, (also known as autonomous vehicles) relies on technology innovators and self-driving car engineers leveraging their expertise and resources to get the technology street-ready.

The key is having enough trained people to meet the demand.  

What Skills Does a Self-Driving Car Engineer Need? 

As far as salaries for self-driving car engineers go, these will vary depending on skill level and experience. Some roles may be more focused on research and development, whereas other roles are more focused on the machine learning components or building and testing the actual vehicles. Your specific role will heavily influence which salary band you fall into. 

In terms of education, those looking to become a self-driving car engineer will be expected to have a Bachelors or Masters degree in Electrical, Mechanical, System and Industrial Engineering, Robotics or related fields.

Additionally, employers will expect proficiency in Python and/or C++ as well as Linux. The ability to write clean, maintainable and extensible code is critical, as is familiarity with navigating large codebases. 

While the educational requirements are an important consideration for employers, finding skilled candidates with practical experience is even more important. To be a self-driving car engineer, experience with industry software, applied machine learning, as well as distributed computing and distributed machine learning, will be necessary. 

While not always critical to these roles, any previous experience with autonomous driving and traffic simulation or testing of control and estimation algorithms would be desirable skills for potential candidates. 

For more general competencies, a successful self-driving car engineer will need to have strong verbal, written and interpersonal skills, a willingness to learn, superior problem-solving capabilities and most of all, the ability to effectively work as part of a close team. 

Driving Into a New Career Path 

With the self-driving car industry poised to see big advancements in the coming years, the industry is going to need more capable professionals with the right skillset. Self-driving car engineers have an opportunity to make a long-lasting impact, so for those looking to pursue this as a career path, ensuring they have a full suite of skills will be key. 

One of our rock star self-driving car engineer instructors, David Silver, answers burning questions about the industry.

Are you interested in pursuing an innovative career as a self-driving car engineer?

Get hands-on experience with the Udacity Self-Driving Car Engineer Nanodegree Program. 

In this Nanodegree  program, you’ll first learn how to first apply computer vision and deep learning to automotive problems, including detecting lane lines, predicting steering angles and more. Then you’ll learn sensor fusion to filter data from an array of sensors in order to perceive the environment. Finally, you’ll have an opportunity to run your code in a simulation on Udacity’s self-driving car, Carla. 

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