Autonomous vehicles, aka self-driving cars, are not yet available to the public (at least not ones SAE Level 3 and higher). However, this doesn't make the jobs any less in demand. In fact, if you meet the right qualifications, you could make a lot of money in this industry.
According to a recent post from Forbes, engineers at Waymo, Google's autonomous vehicle company, make around $283,000 a year—and receive a $30,000 signing bonus. Surprisingly, this salary is actually below average for autonomous vehicle engineers in Silicon Valley, which comes out to $295,000 a year, according to data from Paysa, a company that analyzes pay and job trends for a living. Tough sell, Google.
Uber, on the other hand, pays its engineers above that average, with an annual salary of $348,000. That sounds like a dream, until you remember Uber's self-driving department is, as a Recode source puts it, in a "mini civil war." Since November, at least 20 employees have quit, and Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is currently being sued by his former employer Alphabet, Google's parents company. To put it mildly, there's a little drama in the self-driving business.
But maybe you're somebody who doesn't mind a little drama, and wants to break into this lucrative arena themselves. Carnegie Mellon, one of the pioneers in autonomous vehicle technology, is an excellent investment if looking to find work in this field. But if CMU is a little too traditional for you, Sebastian Thrun, former Google employee, would prefer you to look into his Udacity self-driving program.
Udacity is an online education platform, which advertises itself as an affordable way to train new talent in skills employers need now, especially in autonomous vehicles. Udacity will give you what they call a "nanodegree," and Thrun hopes his school, which took applications for the first time last fall, will help both people looking to work with self-driving cars and the companies looking to hire them.
Self-driving cars may not be here yet, but until they are, competition and salaries will continue to rise. And as of right now, they show no signs of slowing down.