Automotive test driver

An automotive test driver


Automotive test drivers drive prototype and pre-production vehicles and assess their performance, safety and comfort. They test the models in various driving situations and prepare reports to help engineers improve their designs and identify problems. They can work for manufacturers, independent vehicle test organisations or automotive magazines.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to automotive test driver:

prototype vehicle tester
prototype vehicle evaluator
auto test driver
automobile test and development driver
automotive test technician
test driver
car test and development driver
car test technician
automobile test driver
road test and development driver
automobile test technician
car test driver
road test driver
motor vehicle test driver
car tester

Working conditions

Automotive test drivers spend the majority of their workday behind the wheel of a car. They are often assigned to drive various types of roads to gauge the car’s performance in different situations. Travel is sometimes necessary if the car is manufactured abroad. After a performance test, drivers may meet other team members in an office setting to give reports or brainstorm new alterations. Test drivers writing for a trade publication may take notes during performance testing for use when writing their articles or new product reviews.

Work conditions can occasionally be hazardous. Automotive test drivers often drive their vehicles at top speeds in difficult terrain or less-than-optimal weather conditions. It’s important that drivers take every step to protect themselves from injury by wearing seat belts or other protective gear such as helmets, driving gloves, and fireproof clothing.

Minimum qualifications

A high school diploma is generally the minimum required to work as an automotive test driver, preferably with auto mechanics courses.

A valid driver’s license is a prerequisite for employment in this field, as well as a clean driving record. Automotive manufacturers may also offer in-house certification programs for test drivers.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Automotive test driver is a Skill level 2 occupation.

Automotive test driver career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to automotive test driver.

surface miner
vehicle maintenance attendant
hearse driver
motor vehicle parts assembler
motor vehicle assembly inspector

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of automotive test driver. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of automotive test driver with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

pneumatic engineering technician
desalination technician
motor vehicle engine inspector
motor vehicle engine tester
rolling stock engine tester

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of automotive test driver.

  • Car controls: The functioning of specific car equipment such as how to operate and handle the clutch, throttle, lighting, instrumentation, transmission and the brakes.
  • Types of vehicles: Field of information which distinguishes rental agency classification systems, containing types and classes of vehicles and their functioning and components.
  • Health and safety measures in transportation: The body of rules, procedures and regulations related to health and safety measures intended to prevent accidents or incidents in transportation.
  • Mechanics of motor vehicles: The way energy forces interact and affect components in motor vehicles such as cars, buses, invalid carriages and other motorised vehicles.
  • Mechanics: Theoretical and practical applications of the science studying the action of displacements and forces on physical bodies to the development of machinery and mechanical devices.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of automotive test driver.

  • Control the performance of the vehicle: Understand and anticipate the performance and behaviour of a vehicle. Comprehend concepts such as lateral stability, acceleration, and braking distance.
  • Work ergonomically: Apply ergonomy principles in the organisation of the workplace while manually handling equipment and materials.
  • Drive vehicles: Be able to drive vehicles; have the appropriate type of driving license according to the type of motor vehicle used.
  • Record test data: Record data which has been identified specifically during preceding tests in order to verify that outputs of the test produce specific results or to review the reaction of the subject under exceptional or unusual input.
  • Perform test run: Perform tests putting a system, machine, tool or other equipment through a series of actions under actual operating conditions in order to assess its reliability and suitability to realise its tasks, and adjust settings accordingly.
  • Wear appropriate protective gear: Wear relevant and necessary protective gear, such as protective goggles or other eye protection, hard hats, safety gloves.
  • Liaise with engineers: Collaborate with engineers to ensure common understanding and discuss product design, development and improvement.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of automotive test driver. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Aerodynamics: The scientific field that deals with the way gases interact with moving bodies. As we usually deal with atmospheric air, aerodynamics is primarily concerned with the forces of drag and lift, which are caused by air passing over and around solid bodies.
  • Ergonomics: The science of designing systems, processes and products that complement the strengths of people so that they can use them easily and safely.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of automotive test driver. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Execute vehicle maintenance: Execute vehicle maintenance based on supplier or manufacturer instructions. This might include cleaning vehicle engine, cleaning vehicle interior and exterior, maintaining mileage and fuel records, performing non-mechanical maintenance tasks. Service small engines including hydraulic equipment. Check the oil and fluid levels on all equipment. Check vehicles and equipment to ensure that they are in smooth and safe working order.
  • Maintain records related to vehicle operation: Keep up-to-date records of passengers, mileage, gasoline use, destination address and trip purpose.
  • Adjust engineering designs: Adjust designs of products or parts of products so that they meet requirements.
  • Conduct performance measurement: Gather, assess and interpret data concerning the performance of a system, component, group of people or organisation.
  • Use testing equipment: Use equipment to test performance and operation of machinery.
  • Drive motor vehicle prototypes: Drive experimental or prototypes of motor vehicles to acquire information on performance.
  • Conduct performance tests: Conduct experimental, environmental and operational tests on models, prototypes or on the systems and equipment itself in order to test their strength and capabilities under normal and extreme conditions.
  • Test motor vehicles under demanding conditions: Test the steering, braking and handling abilities of motor vehicles to see how they operate under demanding and extreme conditions such as on sloops, in winding bends and on ice.
  • Present reports: Display results, statistics and conclusions to an audience in a transparent and straightforward way.
  • Drive at high speeds: Drive motorised vehicles at high speeds in a safe manner.

ISCO group and title

7543 – Product graders and testers (excluding foods and beverages)

  1. Automotive test driver – ESCO
  2. Test Drivers – FirstHand
  3. Featured image: Photo by from Pexels
Last updated on October 23, 2022

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