We talked a lot about the auto mechanic career subject on the certifiedmastertech.com blog throughout the years. And rightfully so. As a certified master technician with more than 30 years in the business I enjoy a unique perspective. The interesting thing remains the unexpected places that an auto mechanic career can take you. In this article we’ll talk about some of the possible twists and turns to the automotive technician career.
If you think that a lifetime of working in the automotive industry seems right for you, review some of the past articles provided on the blog homepage. One of the more popular articles remains a piece we put together about how much money an auto mechanic makes throughout his career. We also posted an interesting piece about putting together a starter car repair toolbox.
Although auto mechanics find their biggest expenditure in the tool department, they’ll also spend time and money on education. Fortunately a lot of competition exists in this educational arena. Find out a little more about the course study for mechanics. In most cases, people have the wrong idea about what they’ll learn in automotive educational classes during the first year. In fact, many find the theory, mathematics and certification process unsavory. Its better you find out now then down the road. With that said, let’s talk about what happens when you stay on the path and find out where an auto mechanic career can take you.
Management Side Auto Mechanic Career
Having a strong automotive mechanical background that only comes from actually fixing cars can serve you well when you look to advance your career. However, very few cross the bridge from the work side to the management side within the first couple of years of service. In other words, you have to pay your dues. In fact, when you put down the tools, you’ll work your way through several positions on the administrative side before you can hope for a service manager or a service director type career.
For many, the first step becomes the most difficult. The first step of this transformation means putting down the wrenches and picking up a pen as a service advisor. Mechanics can find this transition extremely difficult. What many don’t realize about the service advisor position is the massive amount of hours involved. These employees show up long before the mechanics in the morning to write up early bird customers. In addition, they stay later than the mechanic as they process repair orders and greet customers with questions on pickup.
Now that retail auto repair centers remain open on Saturdays and some on Sundays the hours involved with a service advisor position can reach into the 60 to 70 hours a week range. Mechanics use to working a 40 hour week will find it difficult to adapt to these conditions. The good news becomes the next step in the natural progression of this management side mechanic career advancement. Individuals that physically repaired automobiles, greeted customers and processed repair orders become strong candidates for service manager or service director positions.
Open Your Own Repair Shop
Opening your own repair shop becomes a scary endeavor these days. Many shops fail to turn a profit or stay afloat past the one year anniversary. Nevertheless, the rewards of being your own boss can outweigh the fear of failure. Most shop owners started their auto mechanic career by turning wrenches for others. They learned the trade, but also how the business works. More importantly, they get to see how the business changed and shifted from just 10 or 20 years ago.
Successful entrepreneurs understand that exceeding customer’s expectations becomes the fastest route to success. Offering convenient hours means 12 hour days, six days a week. During the early years of a new auto repair shop, the owner finds themselves working every single one of these hours. Hopefully, as time marches on the business becomes successful. Now the owner hires employees to help carry the load.
Nevertheless, even in the best case scenarios the modern auto repair business brings more challenges to showing a profit than any time in history. Tightening regulations from the EPA provide an ongoing challenge for shop owners. The automobile remains filled with fluids and materials considered hazardous to the environment. Businesses must charge shop fees and waste disposal remuneration to cover these expenses. Unfortunately, customers often react negatively to these additional charges.
Dealing with employees in any business remains challenging. However, finding skilled technicians dedicated to quality automotive repairs becomes a lot more difficult than finding a wait staff employee with a good attitude. Although the challenges to launching a successful auto repair shop remain undeniable, so do the possible rewards. In a world where many careers are starting to disappear, the need for mechanics continues into the foreseeable future. Even if driver less cars don’t need drivers, they’ll still need regular maintenance and auto repairs.
Stick with Turning Wrenches
Some reading this article might wonder why a mechanic wouldn’t just stay a mechanic throughout their entire career. The pay is decent and the stress level fairly low. In fact, these remain some of the biggest upsides of becoming a professional automotive technician. Fix some cars and you go home. Meanwhile the owner of the business is trying to figure out a way to stay afloat. The service advisor remains behind the desk waiting for a customer to pick up at 8:30 at night. Meanwhile, you’re at home playing video games and drinking beer.
Unfortunately, there exists a dark side to being an auto mechanic. Even those in tremendous physical condition can develop repetitive motion injuries. Some of the more common ones include carpal tunnel syndrome and lower back problems. In other words, you can expect to lean over an engine compartment for 30 years and not feel the need to move on to something else for the next 20 years of your auto mechanic career. Thankfully, those dedicating themselves to new and cutting-edge automotive technology enjoy career options valued by prospective employers.