Love Cars and Technology?
Here’s All You Need To Know About Getting a Job Developing Software for Automobiles
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Generation Z and millennials are much more interested in having a job they love than its financial compensation compared to baby boomers who were more motivated by job security and steady income. But for anyone who is passionate about cars and technology, there are actually a lot of opportunities to do what you love and be well-paid. With the boom of electric and self-driving cars, there is a huge demand for skilled software engineers who can work designing the latest car technology–whether it is creating more efficient fuel systems, self-driving technology or even figuring out how to make a car fly. Due to the lack of skilled coders, companies are paying top dollar for anyone who has the necessary skills to join the team.
But where does someone begin? The first step is to get a coding qualification. Contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t require a college degree, which can cost a fortune and leaves many graduates paying off their college loans well into their thirties. Today, there are a (small) number of high-quality, low-cost, year-long programs that will provide anyone from any background with the computer skills to start working for their favorite car company.
If you look at job descriptions for software engineers at companies working on autonomous vehicles, for example, most jobs require applicants to have a significant development experience in C or C++ as a minimum, as well as significant experience with databases, data structures, algorithms and Unix/Linux systems. If these don’t make sense to you now, just make sure the coding school you want to attend covers all these topics and, after you graduate, these terms should all make perfect sense to you!
Automotive Software Engineers
Unlike working at a company like Facebook, software engineers who work in the car industry will work between a combination of hardware and software, so automotive software engineers have to work with the benefits and limitations of the hardware. But these challenges are probably what make working in the car industry fun. They have to really deal with trade-offs between memory and GPU, which, if you’ve only learned a higher-level language, you won’t really understand. If you can walk into a technical interview at Tesla, for example, and code a rough, but acceptable solution to memory allocation in C in about 20 minutes, you will be in a much, much stronger position to gain employment than if you took some online C++ coding courses from the likes of Udacity or Coursera.
Specifically, in the car industry software engineers or ML (machine learning) engineers need to be able to work with low-level programming languages, Unix and have a fundamental and foundational understanding of software engineering. At the core, you have to work with a computer that’s embedded in a vehicle and will have to deal with image capture and reception, a lot of algorithms and optimization, image recognition and processing, abstraction, logic and the ability to interface with APIs and other software within the car. You have to be able to handle complexity while thinking logically and holistically, all while optimizing for performance–which is in itself is a question without a simple answer. Overall, this means if you want to work in this industry as a software engineer, you should have evidence of this kind of experience on your resume and in your technical portfolio, so look out for this when you select a training program.
What Types of People Are Suited To Work in the Car Industry?
While getting a coding qualification is now cheaper and quicker than ever, it doesn’t mean that, when you are doing the course, it won’t be intense. People who naturally love being on the computer and are pretty good at math tend to thrive when they are learning to code. Today, your age, skin color or family’s wealth should not be a barrier to your success. Because there is such a shortage of skilled coders across all industries in general, companies are going to great lengths to get great people to join their team.
More on cutting-edge car tech
Opinion: Why Software Is the Key To Developing Safe Autonomous Cars
Tech: Autonomous Vehicles Are Going To Need a New Brain
About the author
Kwame Yangame is the CEO and co-founder of Qwasar Silicon Valley, a global leader in innovative, 21st-century training for technical talent. With more than 15 years of work in diversity-focused IT education, Kwame co-founded internationally recognized IT school 42 in Paris and in California, and launched France’s leading private IT university Epitech over the last 20 years.