Does the automotive service industry interests you? Do you like cars? do you like the challenge of figuring something out? Learning how mechanical & electrical works? Itch for Fixing broken things? if your answer is yes, then this might be a great career move for you.
I have hired many entry level techs fresh from a tech school or young men who wanted to be apprentices and learn the craft. Some stay in the industry, Some move on to other industries. The ones that stay are passionate and clearly knows this is what they want to do and become successful. The ones that move on may have a different expectation of what is to be an Automotive Technician.
Back in the old days, pretty much anyone who wants to can work at the garage, mostly kids who likes cars, race cars and tinkers with them somehow ends up at this trade. They learn through experience and training from experienced mechanics and/or some form of technical training and that is that. Expectation is its easy & cheap and anyone can do it. Not even close.
I see several tech schools that have high enroll rate because of the mirage of coolness and great pay doing what you love for the trade. but after school these students have tough time getting the jobs and pay that was promised by the schools to begin with. The industry rely on experience, ability, training and base the pay on that, so typically once you get your foot on the door, you will have to earn enough experience to able eat at the table. So, a lot of recent graduates find it discouraging that after being promised great pay, job placements...to only find out its not as easy as it sounds. Pay is cheap for entry level, tooling is way expensive and shops are looking for experienced technicians is enough to turn off any prospective technician about the auto repair trade. but there is hope...
As technology advances and cars becomes more and more complicated, it require skillful, knowledgeable tradesmen to work and maintain them. The process of repairing and maintaining vehicles are becoming very technical, precise and requires a lot more information and tooling to service modern cars. This change in trend is now weeding out the quality of technicians out there. Tools are getting more expensive and technicians require more and more training to keep up with the technology that means more hours and money spent to just keep up. The ones that cannot learn to adapt are not seeing the value in the profession and moving on to other trades.
Types of Automotive Technicians
- General Service - These are your oil change center guys, their knowledge are limited. Typically low paying, low experience and is the entry level work in the industry. Performing minor services and shop tasks.
- B Level Techs - These are the guys that can perform repairs and services efficiently and correctly as well as perform diagnostic work. Have experience and invested in tooling as well as training and education.
- A Level Techs - These are guys that can perform mostly any type of work, are highly experienced, highly trained, Master Certified and continues to train and have invested highly on tooling. These techs are diagnosticians who find solutions when no one cant. And some have a specialty on type of make or systems. Like an Audi specialist or Hybrid/Electric car Specialist.
Apprenticeship Vs. Tech School
I believe in proper training and knowledge and the best way to achieve this in an organized way is through a technical trade school. They have the resource and network to get the latest information, tooling and training available out there. This is a great start and foundation in starting your automotive career.
Now apprenticeship is also great as long as the person doing the mentoring has an organized way of teaching and a time frame on the teachings. Experiences vary, because of time spent and the quality of training a person receives.
I would recommend checking out your local community colleges, universities and see what they offer in their automotive programs. These are cheaper compared to the mainly "tech school", and offer grants for residents and provide associates degrees in case you want to further your schooling to a bachelor degree. Also check out the facility, are they up to date on technology and equipment.
There are also Tech schools. They are typically more expensive but has access to manufacturer training programs and usually have the updated tooling and equipment to learn from. Not to familiar with details but ultimately do your research on the schools you would like to attend before making your decision.
But i firmly believe either type of schools will do the job...after all it is up the student that determines success not its environment.
There are a lot of growth opportunities for getting in the trade. A person can go from entry level to intermediate to Master Technician and make good money doing what you love day in day out. Or Move on to leadership positions such as shop manager, service adviser. Even open your own independent repair shop or franchise existing business models. Or even branch out to support or vendors that support the industry like owning your own tool franchise or work for dealers and suppliers. Others, take up teaching and/or training others in management or technical aspect.
All in all, its a great trade! and most importantly to become successful in any trade i think its is important to have a plan, a time frame, to know where you are and where you want to be.
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