The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) has an important message for parents: if becoming an automotive technician is not high on your list of career choices for your child, it’s time to look again.
As ASE points out to parents, students and career counselors, automotive service and repair has changed dramatically over a generation. High-tech systems unheard of 30 years ago are now common on the nation’s fleet of vehicles: stability and traction control systems, adaptive cruise control and variable valve timing, to name a few.
And more changes are on the way: hybrid vehicles are becoming a reality, hydrogen fuel cells may become viable in the near-term; interactive suspensions, continuously variable-speed transmissions and 42-volt batteries will soon become commonplace.
Given these advances in technology, the richly varied automotive aftermarket offers an array of positions and career paths, for talented young students with math, science, communications and technical skills.
And unlike many high-tech careers that require four, six or even eight years of college, automotive technology careers can begin after two years of college. As with any career, life-long learning and update training is necessary, but the simple fact is, students in automotive technology can get out into the real world sooner and with less college debt.
Moreover, job growth looks strong into the foreseeable future. Estimates indicate job growth range from 35,000 to 60,000 openings annually. Whatever the exact number, one thing is certain: the U.S. Dept. of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics lists automotive technicians as one of the top 20 jobs with relatively high median earnings and the potential for significant job openings over the next decade.
And with the outsourcing of jobs picking up steam first manufacturing jobs, now computer programming, customer call-center work and accounting services all going overseas it should be comforting to know that automotive service and repair is resistant to such moves.
So, what kind of work is out there? The jobs run the gamut from line technician to service consultant, service director or store owner. There is work in parts, parts distribution and wholesaling; collision repair, painting and damage estimating. There’s the growing field of high-performance machining and rebuilding.
There is work in technical areas, training or in management at the corporate level for national franchises, vehicle manufacturers and private and municipal fleets. There are positions with high schools and community colleges as well as proprietary schools as instructors. Still, other technicians find themselves moving into sales, marketing and business management.
Countless automotive aftermarket executives got their start turning wrenches. (Though nowadays the tool of choice is as likely to be a diagnostic computer and monitor.)
In fact, so many people have made their beginnings in the automotive aftermarket as an auto technician, that it is viewed as something of a portal career. And for those whose true calling is in the service bay, it’s far from a dead-end career. Top-notch technicians well-versed in computer diagnostics and the latest engine performance and driveabilty solutions can and do command top-dollar salaries. Pride in work, technical savvy and craftsmanship are rewarded.
So, if your child is chaffing to get out in the real world and make his or her mark, do consider automotive technology. Ask your child’s guidance counselor, or better yet, visit your local community college.
The non-profit National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) conducts the only nationally recognized certification program for automotive service professionals. ASE offers a wide range of tests that serve virtually every segment of the automotive service arena. About 400,000 professionals hold current ASE certification. To learn more, go to www.ase.com.
The National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation, or NATEF for short, is ASE’s education arm. NATEF works closely with the automotive service industry to develop national standards for automotive training programs. Such programs, in turn, benefit students and employers alike by providing a steady stream of job-ready young technicians. For more information about NATEF’s programs, a list of certified automotive Career/Technical programs in your area, and additional career information, visit www.natef.org.
From Car Care News Service & ASE