This article was written by EPG, a company that focuses on helping electric and autonomous vehicle clients hire the best people through our industry and product-specific staffing expertise. Contributors include Joe Rooney, CEO and co-founder, and Evie Sherrer, a talented recruiter.
At EPG, we match our clients in the electric and autonomous vehicle industry with people that are looking for their dream careers. Our recruiters often get asked questions like “How can I get into the EV industry?” or “How can I stand out from my peers when pursuing a job in emobility?”. When it comes to electric vehicle recruitment and hiring the right engineers, there are several factors that companies and hiring managers look at. Using our EV staffing expertise, we put together a guide to assist people and students that are looking to join this ever-growing industry.
A Guide to Becoming an Electric Vehicle Engineer
Know the Basic Lingo
First, it’s important to know the basic terminology within the EV industry to help you learn more about the vehicles and how they work. This will give you a good launching point for choosing a major, picking college courses, speaking in interviews, and more. Here are a few to get you started
- ICE (Internal Combustion Engine): A vehicle that is powered by a conventional internal combustion engine.
- ZEV (Zero Emissions Vehicle): A vehicle that produces zero exhaust emissions under all possible operational modes & conditions.
- BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle): A type of electric vehicle that is exclusively powered by rechargeable battery packs with no secondary source of propulsion
- PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle): A type of EV that combines a conventional ICE with an electric propulsion system (hybrid vehicle drivetrain) and can be plugged in to recharge the battery.
- HEV (Hybrid Electric Vehicle): Similar to a PHEV but it only charges through regenerative braking and/or a motor.
- SOC (State of Charge): The percentage of battery charge remaining.
- SOH (State of Health): The percentage of health left in your battery related to battery degradation.
- Regenerative Braking or “Regen”: A mechanism that allows an EV motor to act as a generator to recharge the battery while braking.
- Level 1 Charging: Chargers that plug directly into a standard 120 volts of alternating current (VAC) outlet and supply an average power output of 1.3 kW to 2.4 kW. This power output is equivalent to 3-5 miles of EV range per hour
- Level 2 Charging: Chargers that operate at 208 to 240VAC and output anywhere from 3 kW to 19 kW of AC power. Can typically charge an EV in 8 hours or less.
- Level 3 Charging: The fastest way to charge an EV, ranges from 200 to 600 volts of direct current (VDC) and beyond and can typically recharge an EV in around 30 minutes.
- EVSE (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment): The equipment involved in supplying energy to charge a vehicle, also called a charging station.
- kWh (kilowatt hours): The unit of energy typically used to measure how big an EV battery pack is.
Stay Up to Date
Our clients love to recruit and hire people that are passionate and knowledgeable about electric vehicles and the industry that surrounds them. Best practices to keep up to date include staying current with the news through articles and watching videos, attending car shows, test driving vehicles at your local dealership, and following newsletters. EPG puts out a weekly electric and autonomous vehicle newsletter, through our subsidiary Mobility EVo, that will keep you updated on the latest and most interesting topics in the mobility industry. You can sign up here.
Part 2 – College
Find The Right Focus
Just like the conventional automotive industry, there are many types of companies that you can work for within the electric vehicle industry. Find what area interests you the most and specialize in it, i.e., pursue education in those areas and connect with companies that produce these components. Below are some examples of types of companies within the industry but there are many other niches out there. It’s worth the time and effort to research and find what interests you the most.
- Electric Vehicles (trucks, buses, vans, cars, motorcycles, boats, bikes, eVTOL, etc.)
- Hardware (motors, wire harnesses, batteries, etc.)
- Software (simulation, embedded, motor controls, BMS, etc.)
- Charging Equipment (wired and wireless)
- Vehicle Testing (component and vehicle level)
- Consulting (fleet conversion, charging installation, etc.)
Maximize Your College Experience
Going to a university is an important time to find out what piques your interest the most in the world of engineering and vehicles. Early in college, it’s important to try different courses and then focus on what you enjoy the most. Outside of finding the right major and classes, it’s also important to take part in extracurriculars to continue to build your resume.
- Examples of Relevant Majors:
- Automotive Engineering
- Chemical Engineering
- Computer Science and Engineering
- Electrical Engineering
- Electronics Engineer
- Mechanical Engineering
- Mechatronics Engineering
- Robotics Engineering
- Systems Engineering
- Software Engineering
- Internships are one of the most important aspects of building your resume to enter the EV industry post-college. They not only help you understand your likes and dislikes but are essential in building a strong resume and networking. You can check out some examples here.
- Join your school’s Baja SAE team and if possible, take a leadership role.
- Build EV related projects in your spare time
- Take online EV courses
- Join EV organizations:
- Attend local auto shows to learn more about vehicles and to network
Part 3 – Career
Know the Different Career Options
It’s important to know you have options. If one role or specialty does not seem like a match for you, there are several other avenues that you can explore within the industry. Key positions include:
- Battery Engineer
- Controls Engineer
- Design Engineer
- Durability Engineer
- Electrical Engineer
- Embedded Systems Engineer
- EV Charger Engineer
- Functional Safety Engineer
- Manufacturing Engineer
- Powertrain Engineer
- Test Engineer
- Systems Engineer
Build your network online and in person. There are many ways to do this. Start by adding connections that are already in the positions and at the companies that you are interested in. Engage them and learn about how they ended up where they are.
You can also join organizations or groups on LinkedIn to gather more information about the EV industry and potential career opportunities. Sharing posts from these groups can help draw attention to your profile.
Connecting with recruiters that work at specialized electric vehicle recruiting agencies, like EPG, is also a good way to learn about what types of positions are available and how you can get involved.
Speaking with engineers, joining organizations, and connecting with recruiters are also helpful in finding mentors. A good mentor is invaluable and can be paramount in making tough decisions and choosing the right path.
By following this guide, you should have a good idea of how to plan a course of action to become an engineer in the electric vehicle industry. You can check out EPG’s current job openings on our Careers Page. You can also contact us at Info@EPGAmerica.com or check out our website www.EPGAmerica.com for our services.