Finding odd-job careers in the auto industry

You don't have to be an engineer or designer to work in auto production

Published: April 24, 2017, 5:30 PM
Updated: November 21, 2021, 3:10 PM


Many people looking at working in the auto industry are following career paths in engineering and design, or hoping to be chosen in one of the unskilled labour job fairs, but there are other jobs that require less training or, in some cases, more creative inclinations.

European manufacturer SEAT, offered the following examples of lesser-known jobs in the auto production process.

The First Driver

You know that every car goes through quality control just before it rolls off the line, but quality control stretches beyond the end of the line, as the cars turn their wheels for the first time. The crew of first drivers reportedly put millions of kilometres on vehicles immediately leaving the line, testing them at different speeds on different types of pavement, testing acceleration and braking, steering and controls, all the while also honking horns and flashing lights.

The Clay Sculptor

Designers often get all the credit for those nice lines and sharp creases, but the sculptors put all those paper scribblings into practice and sometimes find that some things look far better on paper than they do in real life. Reportedly putting in tens of thousands of hours moulding, scraping and smoothening, they are the ones that often touch the final design of the vehicle before it’s locked in.

The Upholstery Tailor

Just like the sculptor takes the paper design and turns it into 3D, so the tailor takes all those colour swatches and stitches them together (using 30 metres worth of seams!) to see if the patterns and hues work as well under real light. The tailor works with colours and materials to achieve not just a good look but one that contributes to the personality of the car and its potential owners. And, they do it two years in advance of the vehicle hitting the market, so they have to be forward thinking and trend watchers.

The Seat Tester

And once those tailors get a product that they and others are happy with, the seat testers try out the padding, structure, controls, and materials to make sure a seam isn’t messing up the seat-occupant’s comfort, or that rear seat passengers can work the pass-through mechanisms easily and correctly. Reportedly 20,000 different operations are performed on each seat, including making sure things such as head rests are designed and positioned correctly for safety.

The Car Sommelier

This one is a little weird but have you ever wondered how that new-car smell is achieved? Yup, there’s somebody (a chemist, actually) whose nose knows what it has to be like. And not just when the car door is first opened, but also when the interior is too hot from the vehicle sitting out in the sun all day, or too cold on the frigid winter mornings. The sommelier is reportedly responsible for 400 smell tests every year. Part of the job description is that you can’t smoke (because it throws off your sense of smell) and you can’t wear any fragrance on the job (so you have to also choose your body washes and shampoos carefully).