What it Takes to Be an Automotive Technician

by on October 2nd, 2014
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So you want to join the ranks of the automotive technicians in the world today. I consider it a great choice and you will have many rewards and enjoy a fellowship unmatched in any industry in my opinion. We do need to go over a few things you must understand and be willing to “step up to” to begin your career and stay successful.

You must be able to read, write and do mathematics at a 12 grade level or higher. Vehicle diagnostics and repair information are written in technical writing format. To understand these instructions you must be able to read well and understand what you are reading. Being able to articulate information on a vehicle repair order is just as important. You must be able to spell and write legibly and communicate the information in an understandable form. Mathematics is important because you must be able to convert between metric and SI specifications. You must be able to calculate measurements and settings. Using the latest electrical and electronics measuring equipment still requires some sound understanding of OHMs law!

You must learn and practice “critical thinking” to solve most of the automotive failures. With some much computer control over mechanical devices this is an absolute skill you must learn. Mathematical process teaches “critical thinking skills” well. Developing a logical approach to vehicle repairs is considered “critical thinking skills”. Computer skills are a must to navigate the repair information systems and vehicle computer systems. You need to develop short and long term memory skills. After all most vehicle repairs are processes. Repetitive practice will make you faster not skipping steps!

You need to select the correct automotive program to prepare you for this profession. Read my article 10 TIPs to selecting and automotive school. I am not talking about an automotive “paper mill” school but one that actually teaches the skills needed to begin a profession in the automotive industry. You need as much hands-on as lecture time at these schools. Hands -on develops the dexterity skills and reinforces lecture.

Are you still with me? Consider the tool investment you will need to make to be successful in the industry. My personal tool investment is now about 100K plus over the last 30 years. Some school offer a tool set as a part of the program. These tool set are a great start point but are not even close to what you will need. You can add some tools and be ready to work the lube bay at most shops.

Once in the industry you can plan on attending a 100 hours of additional training a year to keep up with emerging technologies and repair procedures. I suggest you attend as much training as you can every year to keep your skills top notch. I also recommend you test your knowledge with ASE testing and gain ASE certifications as soon as possible. These investments will help you increase your earning power and become a more desirable technician to the industry.

Now for the bad part, how you get paid. Unfortunately you will be paid on performance in most cases not hourly. The hourly pays are usually assigned to the lube bay. It takes about 2-3 years to gain the skills needed to jump to flat rate. Most shops pay technicians on performance. The more you do the more you get paid. The side affect is come backs! You will fix your come back for free. With this said, if you consider the information I have shared you should be able to minimize any come backs, (even I have a bad day) and enjoy a rewarding profession that has allowed me to afford my life style. I would not change my decision if I had to do it all over.


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