Career Opportunities for Automotive Technicians and Mechanics
A career as a mechanic does not have to mean you have just one or two options for where you work and what you do. Qualified automotive techs and mechanics have a lot of different opportunities they can pursue. Some require additional training or certification, while others do not. Being a mechanic can lead to much more than just working in a garage or dealership, although these are great careers as well.
Automotive Service, Repair, and Maintenance
An auto mechanic is a professional technician who has extensive training and special skills. If you want to pursue this career you may choose to complete a post-secondary program in automotive technology or to go straight to work, finding a master mechanic willing to train you on the job. You may also choose to complete a program that trains you to work with a specific manufacturer’s vehicles, like Ford or Honda.
With this type of education and training, most mechanics end up working in car dealerships, either manufacturer-specific or general, or in repair and maintenance shops. The latter may be large national chains, shops that deal with specific issues like transmissions or tires, or they may be smaller, independent repair shops. These are great career options, but there are other choices too. With training as a mechanic you’ll have your choice of interesting and rewarding jobs.
If you have a passion for customizing cars, refurbishing and restoring classic cars or building hot rods, you can take your experience and skills to a specialty shop. Repair shops and those that build and customize cars always need qualified mechanics. Getting into this kind of work may require that you get some experience in a more typical shop, though. You may also consider looking to apprentice with someone who does this kind of specialty work before trying to find a position.
Repair Shop Owner
A career as an entrepreneur may be a dream you’ve always had. Another career option for a mechanic is to open a shop. You may look into a franchise for an existing brand, or you might want to start something completely new that is only your own. To get into shop ownership you should have at least a few years’ experience working so that you know what it takes to run one. You may also want to take some business courses.
Diesel and Truck Mechanics
An area of specialty that is currently growing at nine percent is diesel. Mechanics qualified to work on diesel engines, trucks and buses are in big demand right now. To become a diesel mechanic you will need specialized training. There are diesel and truck programs at many schools that offer training for mechanics. If you have already completed training as an automotive service technician, you may be able to land a position in which you will get on-the-job training in diesel mechanics.
Body Repair and Paint
Another specialty in automotive work is collision, body repair and painting. As with diesel and truck repair, you can probably find a post-secondary program that will specifically train you for this profession. But you will also need some training on the job, working under an experienced body worker or painter. Careers in this field are lucrative, with the average salary at $40,580 per year, and are experiencing strong growth right now.
Automotive Parts – Retail and Wholesale
In a totally different direction, you may be interested in working in sales and retail. As a mechanic you will be in a good position to work as a parts expert. These professionals are hired by wholesale parts companies, parts manufacturers and retail stores. In one of these settings you may work as a salesperson or a retail professional, helping customers find and use what they need for their car projects.
Training as a mechanic or auto service tech does not mean that your career options are limited. In fact, this kind of training opens the door to many varied work opportunities. From working in a repair shop or dealership to opening your own business or working on specialty projects, mechanics have a lot of choices.