You’ve graduated from a vocational college or trade school and acquired the tools necessary to start your career as an automotive technician. So what’s next? What are your options and what type of job can you pursue?
Due to the wide variety of skills that automotive technicians possess, paired with an ever-changing and ever-growing automotive industry, there are countless career opportunities for students who graduate from programs such as AAI’s Automotive Service Technology Program.
With an estimated 800,000 people employed in the automotive industry , the industry is in high demand for quality technicians. While there are many positions and specializations for mechanics, we’ve outlined three of the most popular workplaces below:
1. Dealerships – There are several things that make working at a dealership unique. Dealerships have large service areas, servicing many cars at once. Due to their size, customers rarely meet the mechanic working on their car, but rather work with a service provider who serves as a liaison between the customer and the mechanic. Service providers consult with mechanics, explain to customers what work needs to be done, then provide them with a quote on how much the service will cost.
In most cases, the service department repairs and maintains only the brands of cars they sell or have sold. They are trained specifically in those brands and work solely with those manufacturers. In recent years, dealerships have transitioned to have both full service repair shops, which are meant to handle internal mechanical problems such as engine and transmission issues, and express shops, which serve to take care of routine and preventative maintenance such as tire rotations and oil changes.
In addition to servicing cars, mechanics who work in dealerships manage warranty jobs in which the manufacturer covers the majority of repairs. These jobs involve administrative reporting and tracking, requiring the mechanic or service provider to document issues. Mechanics at dealerships often work under pressure because there are general time limits assigned to each job to increase efficiency.
Nearly 30 percent of auto technicians work in dealerships and receive benefits such as medical insurance. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, auto technicians earn a median salary of $42,680 per year. SOURCE
2. Auto Mechanical Maintenance + Electrical Repair Shops – Similar to technicians who work at dealerships, automotive technicians that work in repair shops are also required to have fundamental skills in auto maintenance and repair. These skills include diagnosing complex problems, performing repairs, changing oil, checking fluid levels, rotating tires, changing batteries, and more. In addition to technical skills, auto technicians are focused problem solvers and critical thinkers, as repairs are not always routine and can involve creative solutions.
As opposed to dealerships, repair shops are smaller in size and generally work on all brands of cars; they have no loyalty to manufacturers as opposed to dealership technicians. Because repair shops are smaller, customers interact directly with the mechanic instead of a service provider. Many people prefer independent repair shops to dealerships because they are able to provide more direct customer service and it can be easier to build a relationship with their mechanic.
Government Repair Shops – Another career option is to work for government-owned auto repair shops. The government owns and operates all forms of transportation vehicles that require routine maintenance and repair including school busses, public transportation vehicles, and law enforcement vehicles.
3. Auto Parts, Accessories, and Tire Stores – Auto technicians who work in auto parts, accessories, and tire stores serve as salespeople but have the same fundamental skills as mechanics who work in dealerships and repair shops. These individuals specialize in the parts and pieces that mechanics use to repair and perform routine maintenance on cars. Specifically, they have extensive knowledge of how parts function and can provide advice to customers on how to install parts and accessories. Other duties include ordering parts from manufacturers, checking and changing car batteries, stocking shelves, and examining exchanged parts.
In addition to the workplace settings listed above, mechanics have a wide variety of other career options, many of which are specializations including automotive air-conditioning technicians, brake technicians, drivability technicians, front-end technicians, transmission technicians and rebuilders. Other auto mechanics build upon their skills to specialize in careers such as pit crew team members for racecar drivers.
Regardless of the job setting, students who attend vocational schools, such as AAI’s Automotive Service Technology Program, graduate equipped with fundamental skills and real-world knowledge to succeed and advance their careers as automotive technicians.