REPORT: Which Hiring Trends Are Steering the Future of Self-Driving Vehicles?

Worker testing autonomous vehicle

Things around us are changing. More than that, they are transforming. Take the refrigerator, for example. What used to simply be a cold box to store food in now has “smart” capabilities like voice recognition so you can add items to your grocery list. We ask other devices in our homes to tell us the weather without getting off the couch, we video chat with our friends halfway across the world and we can purchase almost anything we’d like online to be delivered within days or even hours to our homes. And with all these changes, cars are no exception.

It wasn’t that long ago when cars were practically the size of houses and had no seatbelts. Since then they have become smaller, sleeker and safer, and they continue to evolve. As technology in our lives has advanced, so have automotive technologies. But forget about the thrill of having a bluetooth audio system  — we are now living in an age when cars can drive themselves.

Until recently, the idea of cars that could do things on their own belonged to the realm of science fiction. But this is now reality — for instance, Tesla’s autopilot-enabled cars have driven almost 1.5 billion miles at the time of writing. However, it’s unclear how widespread this technology will become. According to one study from MIT, 48% of consumers would not buy a fully automatic car.

Even so, job seekers are paying attention to this trend. Since 2015, there has been a staggering 668% increase in searches for the terms “autonomous car,” “autonomous vehicle,” “self-driving car” and “self-driving vehicle” on Indeed. And as this sector continues to grow, so will the need for people who are able to work in it. So who is hiring for these futuristic jobs?

Top companies hiring for autonomous vehicle jobs

To find out who is hiring the most for these jobs, Indeed’s analytics team searched for the companies with the most job descriptions related to autonomous vehicles.

Companies hiring the most for autonomous vehicle jobs

Coming in at number one is Aptiv, formerly a part of Delphi Automotive — the now defunct former mega-supplier for General Motors. Aptiv is focused on self-driving and connected vehicles and operates out of the Detroit metro area. The company plans to add 5,000 to 6,000 employees and has technology offices in Boston, Pittsburgh and Mountain View, California.

Number two on our list is NVIDIA, a Santa Clara, California-based company that makes chip units. NVIDIA makes the computers that power self-driving capabilities in every Tesla vehicle, and they have partnered with Audi as well on autonomous-driving capabilities. The company’s stocks are quite expensive (almost $300), and it was one of the best-performing stocks of 2017, likely because of the growth in the artificial intelligence (AI) sector.

At number three and number four  are major US auto manufacturers General Motors (GM) and Ford. Two of the “big three” auto manufacturers based in Detroit (Fiat Chrysler didn’t make our list), GM and Ford have been making cars since around the beginning of the 20th century and helped Detroit earn the nickname “Motor City.” Both companies have invested heavily in recent years in technology for autonomous vehicles. Ford recently created a $4 billion unit for self-driving vehicle operations, following closely in the footsteps of GM, who drew a $2.25 billion investment a few months prior for its Cruise Automation unit.

The rest of the list shows a mix of established and newer companies. Among well-established companies, we see number-eight Intel, mostly known for making semiconductor chips and personal computer microprocessors, which was founded in 1968. And at number nine is Samsung Semiconductor, which was founded in 1974 when Samsung Electronics acquired Hankook Semiconductor. Number 10 is Flex, formerly Flextronics, which started in Silicon Valley in 1969.

In the newer school we see number-five Nuro, founded in 2016, a robotics company based in Mountain View that recently partnered with grocery chain Kroger to deploy self-driving cars to deliver groceries. Number six is Cruise Automation, founded in 2013, a driverless car company based in San Francisco. Number seven is ride-sharing giant Uber, founded in 2009.

Where are autonomous vehicle jobs located?

While car manufacturing has traditionally been associated with the Motor City, we wanted to know if the new wave of autonomous vehicles has a different geographic center.

In order to find out where autonomous vehicle jobs are located, we next analyzed where autonomous job postings were concentrated. As a result, we identified the top 10 metro areas for autonomous vehicle jobs.

Metros with the most demand for autonomous vehicle jobs

It turns out that tech hub Silicon Valley and Motown (Detroit) far and away lead the pack for autonomous vehicle jobs with almost 60% of them located in these two cities — a clear split between old school and new school. Silicon Valley topped our list with over 30% of these jobs. And number two Detroit lagged only slightly behind with 28% of autonomous vehicle jobs.

Detroit, home of Henry Ford and the Model T, revolutionized Americans’ relationships with cars by producing the first car affordable to most people in the country. Now, it may be a battle to see who can lead in the autonomous vehicle space. Detroit may have the advantage when it comes to car-manufacturing expertise but Silicon Valley is home to well-funded tech giants who have already invested heavily in their own self-driving technology.

Coming in at number three is San Francisco, another top tech city, which has 12% of the autonomous vehicle jobs. While number four, Pittsburgh, has 10% of autonomous vehicle jobs, it may not immediately stand out as a tech or auto capital. However, it’s the city where Uber launched its self-driving car initiative in 2016. Uber has also used self-driving cars in the metro area of number-five Phoenix, and Waymo is using self-driving cars there as well.

An interesting standout is number-ten Kokomo, Indiana. With a population of under 58,000, they have a remarkable 1% of all US autonomous vehicle jobs. Upon further digging, it turns out Aptiv has a location there.

Skills needed for jobs in autonomous vehicles

Once we knew about the top companies and cities for autonomous vehicle jobs, we wanted to know what skills job seekers needed to actually do these jobs. The auto industry used to be dominated by mechanics and engineers, but the skills needed to work on autonomous vehicles include new tech and software aptitudes undreamt of in the era of Henry Ford.

Top 10 skills for autonomous vehicle jobs

Say good-bye to tool boxes and hello to computers — most of the top skills listed in autonomous vehicle job postings are related to programming. While we used to picture a wrench when it came to fixing cars, most of the skills listed here are unrecognizable to the nontech crowd.

Aside from programming languages like C++ and Python, we also see “artificial intelligence” on the list for autonomous vehicle jobs, landing in fourth place, while the related “machine learning” places fifth.

Artificial intelligence is a field that has grown in both job postings and job seeker interest in recent years. Posts for AI-related roles on Indeed almost doubled between June 2015 and June 2018, and the percentage of AI-related job seeker search on Indeed increased by 182% during the same time period.

So there you have it — interest in autonomous vehicle is having a significant impact on job searches on Indeed. Of course, it’s still unclear what the future of autonomous vehicles will be, but in the meantime there is demand for workers, as well as interest from job seekers. We’ll keep our eyes on where we’re headed.

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