So you want to be an Automotive Technician?
But what is an automotive technician? And how do you know if this is the right career for you?
If you love to work with your hands and solve problems for others, a career as an automotive technician might satisfy both desires. There aren't any stuffy offices or long meetings with this career; instead, you're constantly on the move, getting your hands dirty and finding new ways to keep cars in tip-top shape.
What Does an Automotive Technician Do?
An automotive technician job description can vary widely depending on the work environment. For instance, one technician says, "My responsibilities range from providing maintenance services to diagnosing conditions, documenting repair work, and communicating with service advisors and - when I'm lucky - the vehicle owners."
Automotive technicians work on different types of vehicles, from cars and trucks to motorcycles and boats. Also called mechanics, these technicians might work on an entire vehicle or focus on a specific part, such as a motor or transmission.
How Do You Prepare for a Career as an Automotive Technician?
You'll need a minimum of a high school diploma to get a job as an automotive technician in many areas. You don't need an advanced education in any specific area because, according to one mechanic, "[t]here is no replacement for on-the-job training." However, he concedes that prospective technicians can benefit from "automotive tech school or high school vocational programs."
If you're interested in higher education, a degree in automotive systems technology is recommended. "It's not that going to school for automotive work automatically makes anyone a good tech, but having a basic understanding of how each system works is a huge benefit."
If you plan to obtain on-the-job training, consider seeking positions with companies that place a high value on employee development. An on-site mentoring or education program can help you learn faster and more efficiently so you can chase the highest-paying job possible.
How Much Do Automotive Technicians Make?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), automotive technicians earn a median annual salary of $39,500 as of 2017. However, you can increase your earnings potential if you pursue a job at a dealership. The BLS reports that automobile dealers pay their mechanics an average of $42,360.
Pay can prove unpredictable at a dealership, so choose wisely. "I'm fortunate to work at a dealership where technicians don't have much of a chance to sit down during work hours, and when most technicians are only paid according to each service he or she performs, that becomes an important quality in a dealership."
Pay schedules can vary depending on the employer. Some automotive technicians receive an hourly wage or a consistent salary, while others write checks based on services performed, which makes it more of a commission structure.
What Are the Common Misconceptions About Automotive Technician Jobs?
Many people believe that, because of the advancements in automotive engineering, mechanics rely on computers and high-tech equipment to perform their jobs. One technician discounts that belief. In fact, many agree that their jobs require considerable physical exertion, saying, this job requires "a lot of physical and mental hard work."
What Are the Job Prospects Like for Automotive Mechanics?
According to Automotive News, there exists a severe shortage of trained and qualified mechanics, especially in dealerships. Employee turnover rates of between 30 and 40 percent have left service centers in a jam, and a lack of talent has minimized employers' access to new hires.
Consequently, you might consider entering this field if you're looking for job security and excellent diversity in opportunities. In addition to the talent shortage, nearly 20 percent of automotive technicians have done this work for 21 or more years. This suggests impending retirement for many current mechanics, which will create new job openings.
What Do Mechanics Love About Their Jobs?
Automotive technicians might exert plenty of physical energy on the job, but many like what they do— a love for "fixing things," helping customers' problems at minimal expense.
What Challenges Do Automotive Technicians Face?
As with all careers, automotive technicians must overcome obstacles as they complete their work, it can prove physically taxing, and "[t]he amount of information required to work on all aspects of a modern vehicle is huge."
If you're looking for a rewarding career that will allow you to use your customer service, mechanical, and analytical skills, you might want to consider a job as an automotive technician. Even if you have no experience, start searching for a job today so you can learn the ropes in a hands-on setting.