From The Editor: Expectation v. Reality – Being A Tech Is Still A Dirty Job -
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From The Editor: Expectation v. Reality – Being A Tech Is Still A Dirty Job

Tech students, it’s time for a reality check.


This column originally appeared in the November 2019 issue of Tomorrow’s Technician.

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The automotive industry has always had a “cool” factor to it. With more and more reality TV shows and YouTube stars showing off their automotive skills, it’s a hot industry right now. So why do we keep seeing young automotive technicians leave the industry?

The answer is a lot of things that would take more than my column to go over, but a big part of it is a good ol’ reality check. This isn’t anything new for any industry. We get this perception early on how a job is going to be. The end goal is never instantaneous and that can be troubling to some. 


As a millennial, I grew up watching YouTube videos to learn just about everything from how to change the oil in my 2001 Ford Focus to how to unlock my sister’s door with a bobby pin. YouTube influencers in the automotive sphere are killing it on the platform, and shows about custom shops are all over cable and streaming services. With their custom hot rods and out-of-this-world projects, they show a more glamorous side to the industry that we all love. But, don’t let the allure of these shows fool you. Being the next big custom shop is not easy. It’s going to take a lot of time, money and dirt under your fingernails. You gotta get under the hood and get dirty before you make it big. The fact is, you probably aren’t going to make big bucks when you first start – but you have the ability to grow and work toward higher paid jobs to make a good living. You also are going to have to do jobs you don’t want to do. You’re going to have to do those brake jobs and oil changes before you rebuild an engine or do a custom paint job. 


Knowing the reality early should not scare you away, but quite the opposite. So many students start off with an unrealistic perception of the industry and they reject it once they realize it’s not what they expected. 

Work hard and expect to get a little dirty. Despite what many in the industry say, being a technician is still a dirty job. You’re not going to be wearing a white lab coat anytime soon, which is a good thing. The grease on your shirt is something you should be proud to wear.  


Contact Carley at [email protected]

Follow @CarleyMillhone on Twitter

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