In today’s world, if you love cars and motorcycles, you can easily turn your passion into a lucrative and successful career. Once stigmatized as grease monkey on the bottom rung of the job ladder, careers in the transportation field have experienced continued growth and are fast becoming a desirable place to work with all sorts of advanced technology.
But what kinds of jobs are out there? And how do you get started? Read on to learn about six of the many options for a successful automotive career.
Auto Technician (or Auto Service Tech)
Auto service techs spend their days working with customers, diagnosing their car troubles, and then repairing and maintaining the cars. Because most people drive cars, most people have car issues at some point, making this job nearly recession-proof. In fact, people repair their vehicles more frequently during economic downturns because they are far less likely to buy a new car in uncertain times.
If you’re a detail-oriented people person who likes talking shop about electronic ignition systems, camshafts, and brake duct hoses, this is the job for you. No auto shop functions without parts, and the experts who provide them are an essential part of the repair ecosystem. If you work for an independent car care center, a domestic dealership such as GM, or an import dealership such as Nissan or Toyota you will be managing inventory of wholesale and retail parts and making sure each customer gets what they need.
Collision Repair Specialist
No matter how carefully you drive, chances are you will end up in an accident at some point, be it a light fender bender or a more serious crash. Enter collision repair specialists, who use their wizardry to put damaged vehicles back on the road. You’ll use specialized materials, tools, and processes to weld, realign, paint, and otherwise bring an accident-weary car back to life. You may work solo or as part of a larger team, in which case strong social skills are necessary to work together efficiently.
This part of the industry is set to grow by as much as 8 percent by 2026.
Car Restoration Technician
The love of classic cars is strong in all generations, particularly yours. If you can’t stop staring at that ‘63 Corvette split-window coupe that your dad’s friend drives or regularly binge-watch Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, a career as a car restoration technician may be great for you.
Not only do car restoration techs get to be around these beautiful vehicles all day, but they also specialize in fixing them up and making them go. Your day might include bodywork, motor rebuilds, painting, fine detail work, and talking with part specialists about those rare components needed to finish the job.
Tire techs are specialists—the ones who make sure the rubber meets the road safely, in all kinds of weather. In this role, you’ll install, rotate, and balance, in addition to performing seasonal work such as installing snow tires. Some tire techs work in retail stores, such as a Firestone or Bridgestone dealer, while others take their skills on the road, changing flats, jumpstarting engines, and getting people back into locked cars.
Communication skills are key for this job, as are an independent spirit and good time management.
Unlike the other positions mentioned above, these jobs typically require a four-year degree, usually in mechanical engineering. Automotive engineers are on the ground level of the industry, helping to develop vehicles through research and design. This requires a substantial amount of technical skill, considering how technologically advanced and computer-heavy modern cars can be. So a healthy dose of computer science will also be helpful in this position.
A Great Career Waits for You
These jobs represent just a handful of the automotive career options available. Cars are a simple fact of American life. If hands-on, technical work feels much more satisfying than sitting behind a desk, then why not be one of the amazingly talented workers who help keep cars running?