Common Workplaces for an Automotive Technician

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.

Spotlight on Diesel-Heavy Truck graduate Jesus Mercado Zazueta

Jesus Mercado Zazueta was referred by a friend who was getting ready to complete the Combination Welding program. During his Admissions tour, he was shown all 4 different programs and was indecisive on what he wanted to take. After viewing all that AAI had to offer, Jesus took a few weeks to think about which program he was going to choose. He did his research and spoke with his family about the career decision he was ready to make. Finally, Jesus decided to go through the Diesel Heavy Truck Diploma.

At first Jesus believed that it was going to be easy and that he could manage working at his full time job, attend school, complete his homework and spend time with his daughter. He found himself struggling the first few weeks until he reached out to his instructors for some help. His instructors were patient and offered him tutoring and the support that Jesus needed at the time.

Jesus starting working with Career Services early on in his program and really benefited from the workshops offered by Career Services department. Jesus made it a point to attend and participate in the mock interviewing, resume writing assistance, and cover letter creation. He tried a few job referrals before landing his dream job at Werner Enterprises as a Diesel Mechanic.

Jesus can now afford to work one job and spend more time with his daughter, which was his primary motivation to succeed at everything he did during his time at AAI.

He graduated with honors receiving a 4.0 along with perfect attendance. His tip to students is “If you want it, you’ll get it! Don’t let life challenges stop you from accomplishing your dreams”.

mercado

5 Ways to Find Your New Career in the Skilled Trades

So you’re studying a skilled trade and you want to differentiate yourself from the competition when applying for jobs in your field. Here are five ways to land a job in the trades.

  1. Get The Proper Training

Getting hands-on training at a trade school, like is a great way to get your start in the trades. Whether it be Welding, Automotive Service Technology, Diesel Heavy Truck, or HVAC and Basic Refrigeration, hands-on training is the best way to prepare for a job in the skilled trades.

  1. Get Certified

Upon completion of your program, obtaining a certification may make you a more marketable candidate for employment. The hands-on training, skills, and knowledge you have attained as a student help to prepare you for these certification exams. Don’t miss this opportunity to boost your resume and be considered as a viable candidate for employment.

  1. Create a Resume

Throughout your educational journey, it is important to work with the Career Services department to ensure you have a professional resume ready to present to employers upon completion of your program. Your resume is your marketing tool. This is the first impression that the employer has of you and the first opportunity to understand your education and training.  Your resume should spotlight your skills and education. Showing up at your interview with a professional resume sets you apart from other candidates.

  1. Be Proactive From Day 1

The keys to obtaining employment upon completion of your program are determination and initiative. Searching for a job, is a job in itself. Employers are impressed with candidates that have done their research and are prepared for the interview. The interview process can be tedious, but you must remain positive, and focused on the desired outcome.

While you are waiting to hear from employers, continue to research other employers in your field, participate in networking events, and stay in contact with your Career Services department. Remember, they are in your corner and always available to assist with the job search process. Career Services is where your preparation meets opportunity.

  1. Put Your Best Foot Forward

Even though the Skilled Trade industry requires a different type of uniform, it is important to always present yourself in the best way possible. Your interview attire should be clean, crisp, and  free from holes, tears, and stains. It should also be industry appropriate. For example, Combination Welders should wear a long sleeved, fire retardant shirt, jeans, and steel toe boots. They should also have their tool kit, welding hood and safety glasses available. In some cases, the employer will conduct a skills test, and you must be dressed appropriately.

We’ve highlighted some of the most helpful ways to land your first job in the skilled trades industry. Follow these guidelines, utilize your Career Services team, and you’ll be ready for employment in no time.

To make an appointment with the Career Services team, call 480-389-2258 or if you are interested in beginning your career training at AAI click here.

Written by: Jennifer Robinson – Social Media Coordinator/Blog Editor, Ancora Education

Instructor of the 2nd Quarter – Jason Cozzolino

Pic with CopyCongratulations to Mr. Jason Cozzolino, who was chosen to be our Instructor of the Second Quarter! Mr. Cozzolino is an Automotive Service Technology instructor and has been at AAI for 7 years. That’s nothing compared to how long he’s been in the automotive industry – almost 30 years.  He holds several of the Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certifications, and throughout his lengthy career in the automotive industry, he has worked for Chrysler, Jeep, and Volkswagen, as well as in engine performance shops. Mr. Cozzolino has done everything from light line service to heavy line service.

We had a chance to ask Mr. Cozzolino a few questions about his time in the industry.

Who do you look up to most in the automotive industry?

I look to people my age (46) still working as a tech for a living. This industry, like many others, wears people out.

What is your favorite kind of car to work on and why?

I like to work on domestic muscle cars especially the not so popular ones. These are the cars that I worked on with my dad and got me interested in this industry.

What was your first car?

My first car was a 1974 AMC Hornet hatchback. It was different, and ended up being very fast!

What made you want to work on cars?

I worked on them with my dad, he’s a motor head also. It’s all I ever wanted to do.

What is the weirdest thing you have found in a car that you were working on?

I had a customer complain about a rattle in the dash of his car. When I started to remove the upper dash panel I found part of somebody’s false teeth.

What tool in your tool box do you use the most?

I use my flashlight the most. Not the most glamorous tool, but how can you fix something you can’t see?

Of all the maintenance that cars need, which is the one that will keep the car healthiest the longest?

The basics will keep a car going for a pretty long time. Things like oil changes and filters.

What made you go into teaching?

Like I said this industry beats you up, I didn’t want to be turning wrenches at 60. I wanted to find something auto related that didn’t beat me up so bad. I was also fortunate enough to have 2 older techs take me under their wing when I was very green. Without them I would not have had the success I did. This is my way of honoring them.

What is the one thing that you want your students to know about you that they might not know?

I used to own and manage a women’s hair salon. Not that I feel they need to know this, but I bet none of them know.

Take the next step in your professional journey into the automotive industry. Learn more about the Automotive Service Technology program at Arizona Automotive Institute. Click here.

Have a question you’d like one of our instructors to answer? Ask it in the comments.

Written by: Jennifer Robinson, Social Media Coordinator/Blog Editor – Ancora Education

8 Essential Tools Used in Auto Body Repair

The world of auto body repair is full of tools and gadgets that can make your life a little easier. Whether you are starting the Automotive Service Technology program at Arizona Automotive Institute or you’re just a car enthusiast looking to make improvements on your old Chevy, you’re going to need some basic tools to get the job done.

Automotive Service Instructor, Herbert Leist, compiled a list of 8 tools that are essential to auto body repair and that we use in the body shop here at Arizona Automotive Institute:

  1. Porta Power– A Porta Power is essential for doing auto body and frame repair, as well as other jobs. It is commonly used for removing dents in vehicles by applying pushing, spreading, or pulling force. It gives you the extra muscle you need to get the job done.
  2. Paint Booth– A paint booth is a pressure controlled closed environment used to paint vehicles in a body shop. The booth has one or more ventilation systems and burners to heat the air blown. They assist in the removal of the over sprayed paint from the air. Protecting the surrounding environment is most likely the single most important function of the paint booth.
  3. Masking Tape– Masking tape is used to prep the vehicle before painting.
  4. Body Hammer and Dolly – The body hammer and dolly are used to fix the body of the car. The hammer itself does the heavy lifting and physical shaping of smoothing out the dents. While the dolly holds the shape and directs the metal where to go when being manipulated by the body hammer.
  5. Bondo– Bondo is a body filler used to fill in dents and imperfections. It is a material that uses a catalyst to harden. Bondo is a thermal-set plastic that cures with heat and becomes hard, usually within a few minutes.
  6. Slide hammer– A slide hammer is used to pull dents. It attaches to an object needing to be pulled and transmits an impact force to the object without striking the object itself. Slide hammers are typically used in automotive repair when an object needs to be struck from an inaccessible side.
  7. Polisher– A polisher is used to polish the vehicle after painting. No matter how expensive your paint is or how experienced the painter is, dust, runs, and texture happen. That’s where the polisher comes in and removes these imperfections leaving a mirror-like shine.
  8. Spray Gun– A spray gun is used to paint the vehicle after repairs. Like most tools these can vary in quality. Look for one that is lightweight and ergonomic, so as not to strain the hand of the user, and one that has a little overspray as possible. And for an even coat, look for one that atomizes the paint in a uniform pattern.

If you aren’t familiar with these tools and their uses don’t let that stand in your way of becoming an automotive technician. At Arizona Automotive Institute, you’ll get the hands-on automotive technician training that you need to become more comfortable with these tools and the classroom instruction to help you know when and why to use them.

For more information about the Automotive Service Technician program at AAI click here!

Written by: Jennifer Robinson, Social Media Coordinator- Arizona Automotive Institute

Tips for a Healthy and Happy Fourth of July

The Fourth of July is one of the most celebrated holidays of the year and rightfully so.  We’re celebrating the birth of, not only our nation, but the birth of democracy itself.  And how do we choose to celebrate? With fireworks, family, sunshine and barbecues, of course!

But the holiday can also come with a few potential hazards if you’re not careful. Not to worry; we’ve got some helpful tips to make this Fourth a happy and healthy one!

Bring some earplugs

And no, they’re not to tune out your annoying cousin Larry.  Fireworks can produce a sound output that is in the 150 to 175 decibel range. The World Health Organization recommends that adults not be exposed to more than 140 decibels of peak sound pressure and for children, the recommendation is 120 decibels. Ear protection is recommended for decibels above 85.  So be sure to grab a pair of earplugs before you head out to enjoy the fireworks.

Apply Sunscreen

To keep your skin from matching the red, in the red, white, and blue of the American flag, you’ll want to apply sunscreen.  According to the American Academy of Dermatology it takes approximately 15 minutes for your skin to absorb the sunscreen and protect you. So you’ll want to put it on before you’re out in the sun. You’ll want to use something with an SPF of 30 or higher, that is water resistant and provides broad-spectrum coverage. Reapply every couple of hours to prevent sunburn. Follow the American Academy of Dermatology’s tips on How to apply sunscreen and you should be covered.

Stay Hydrated

Being outside in the sun for a picnic or barbeque cookout can make you more susceptible to dehydration and other health risks. Keeping a bottle of water nearby will help to keep you cool and hydrated throughout the day’s festivities. Plus alternating each alcoholic beverage (if you are of age) with a bottle of water, will help to stave off alcohol-induced dehydration.

Practice Safe Barbecuing

So you’re the one who’s manning or woman-ing the grill; then it’s up to you to make sure that you’re practicing safe barbecuing. This means that you’re designating different plates for the raw and cooked meat, you’re marinating food in the refrigerator and not out on the counter, you’re cooking the food thoroughly, you’re not leaving the food out in the sun for more than 2 hours (one if temperatures are really extreme), and you’re following the manufacturer’s instructions for safely operating your grill.

Follow these tips and you’re sure to have a happy and healthy Fourth of July!

Written by: Jennifer Robinson, Social Media Coordinator/Blog Editor – Arizona Automotive Institute

8 Things to Know When Going on an Automotive Service Technician Interview

So you’ve completed your automotive technician training and you’re ready to start interviewing. We asked Arizona Automotive Institute, AST Instructor, Jason Cozzolino for some helpful tips to use when going on an automotive service tech interview and he came up with these 8 things to know:

  1. Be Honest: You will be asked about your experience level. Don’t lie. If you have little experience, focus on other good qualities. Such as desire to work in the field, great work ethic, ability to learn etc.
  2. Be Certified: Automotive certifications are important. It isn’t likely that a tech that is just starting out will have all of the ASE Certifications, but it is possible to have one or two. This demonstrates your serious intent of being a professional.
  3. Be Equipped: Tools are important of course, but a new tech is not expected to have the same amount and quality of tools a seasoned tech may have.
  4. Be Informed: It is important to understand how you will be paid. There are several ways a tech can be paid. Such as hourly, flat rate and commission. There advantages and disadvantages to all pay structures. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
  5. Be Sure: There are many types of shops to work at. There are independently owned shops, franchised shops, tire and lube shops and dealerships. It’s important to have a general idea where you want your career to take you.
  6. Be Open: Options are important. Not every shop is a good fit for every tech. Be open to checking out a few shops before making your decision.
  7. Be Positive: Always try and be as positive as possible, first impressions are very important.
  8. Be Yourself: Don’t try to be someone you’re not. By being yourself you offer at least one thing that no one else can offer…You.

Following these tips can pay off by ensuring that you leave a positive and lasting impression on your interviewer. For more tips like these contact AAI’s Career Services Department at (480) 389-2258.

Written by: Jennifer Robinson, Social Media Coordinator – Arizona Automotive Institute