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.

The Most Important Thing to Take on an Interview

The day has arrived and you are preparing for your first interview. You have worked hard to learn a new skill. You have studied and passed your certification exam. You have a copy of your diploma, transcript and certificates demonstrating great attendance and grade point averages in your portfolio. You have multiple copies, ready to leave one behind for anyone that asks.  You have prepared an award winning resume. Your interview attire is perfect- clean and ironed. You have studied the top 10 questions you could be asked on an interview and you have prepared answers for all of them. But, there is still something missing. Self-confidence.

The one thing that will win an employer over is a candidate that possesses self-confidence. Self-confidence is a magnet for success. It means that you believe in your own skills, goals, and ability to succeed. In an article posted in the Time Management Ninja, the author lists 10 reasons that self-confidence leads to success.

 10 Reasons That Self-Confidence Leads to Success:

  1. The Drive to Start Things – Confident people start things. They are not shy about striking out on a new idea even when those around them are still pondering it.
  2. The Ability to Stand Up for Oneself – Confidence allows you to stand up for yourself in a fair and consistent manner. Otherwise, you may find yourself unheard or unfairly treated.
  3. The Ability to Say No – Confident people have the ability to say “No” where appropriate. They do not take on unnecessary or inappropriate work or obligations.
  4. The Ability to Say Yes – And at the same time, confident individuals say “Yes” to opportunity. They do not miss new options because they are shy. I have seen individuals pass up opportunities (even promotions) because they didn’t think they were “worthy”.
  5. Confidence Overcomes Fear – Lack of confidence can lead to paralysis from fear. Fear of failure. Fear of what others think. Fear of the unknown. To succeed, you need the confidence to face and overcome your fears.
  6. Believe In Themselves – Self-confidence means believing in yourself. Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t — you’re right.” He was right.
  7. Set the Bar High Enough – Confident individuals set the bar high and aim high. Lack of confidence leads to weak goals, setting the bar too low, and mediocre results.
  8. Stretch Your Limits – Confidence lets you know your limits and test them. By stretching your limits you increase them. You are stronger than you think.
  9. Confidence Asks Questions – Confidence allows you to ask questions, even when others are silent. Confidence even lets you “ask for the job”.
  10. Believe In Winning – Confident people believe in success. And more importantly, they believe in their ability to succeed.

As you prepare to land your new career opportunity, consider the most important thing you can take with you, self-confidence. When you believe in yourself, you stand out in the crowd and you will always have good success!

To ensure that you’re prepared make an appointment with your Career Services team.

Written by: Shaundra Hamilton, Ancora Education – Vice President of Career Services

NOT NETWORKING = NOT WORKING

shutterstock_194022155_renderedIf you are clever at small-talk, have the confidence to insert a positive personal story that almost fits into a conversation, and can manage to sound smart when discussing news, business, and sports, you are a good networker. If you prefer to talk to people you know, don’t know how to keep a conversation going in an uncomfortable situation, and don’t like the pressure of always being “on,” then you my friend, are NORMAL!

Whether you love to network or hate to network, your career just might depend on it. “Networking” in the professional context, means talking and relating to people for the sake of improving your career. But guess what? Your best network is the people you already know!

I have had 7 jobs in 20 years (large and small companies, several you have heard of), and 5 of the 7 jobs would not have happened if it weren’t for my friends. Here are the 7 jobs, and who got me the “in” I needed to land an interview.

  1. IT Consultant – My sister, and my best friend’s wife were both employed at my targeted employer. They got my resume to hiring managers.
  2. Process Manager – A friend that I met during my first job left and got a new job at a new company. He told me about the role and got me in the door.
  3. Product Manager – Someone I barely knew from a co-ed 4-person beach volleyball league.
  4. Product Manager – Monster.com. Yep, no help on this one. But my resume worked now that I had “Product Manager” on it.
  5. Regional Director – High School friend I had kept in touch with and hounded about jobs over the years. He finally came through.
  6. Project Manager – CareerBuilder.com. Yep, no help. Miracles do happen.
  7. Product Strategy Director – Someone from a parent-company that I was in training with for 5 days. During training he was impressed with me (so don’t act like a clown during training–you never know who could be of help to you later).

The key for me was that I let everyone mentioned above know I was looking for work, and what kind of work might be good for me.

When I was “in between jobs” do you know what kept me sharp, gave me confidence, and helped me practice those uncomfortable conversations with strangers? Job networking groups. Guess how many job offers I got through a networking group? Zero! Would I go to one again, and did I see it help other people get jobs? Absolutely.

Look for groups like this one:

http://careerdfw.org/J/

Consider clubs and groups for employed individuals. People with jobs are better at helping people get jobs!

http://www.networkafterwork.com

Join your local Rotary club.

Join your local Chamber of Commerce

But most importantly, network with friends, family, and family friends!

Written By: Dan Morchower, Product Strategy Director – Ancora Education