For every 1,000 people in the United States, there are 439 cars. It is hard to argue that a career in the car industry isn’t a relevant one. Barring a change in the laws of physics, we will not all be flying personal aircraft anytime soon. The car industry is here to stay. Not only is it relevant, but it can be extremely lucrative too. Contrary to many common notions, you don’t necessarily have to be a “gearhead” to successfully find yourself a rewarding career in the automotive world. If you’re new to the industry, or just looking for a change of pace, here are some of the largest employment opportunities in the field:
AUTOMOTIVE BODY AND GLASS REPAIR Do you have a creative side, or do you just like working with your hands? Body and glass repair on vehicles runs the gamut from restoring old vehicles to repairing them after accidents. Skills from this profession could be extended to doing high end, custom body work, and artful paint jobs that can enter you into a highly specialized market. Training: Although no formal training is necessary, it really depends on where you want to work. It is becoming more common now for body shops to require industry certification. Employment Opportunities: Many Dealerships employ their own body and glass workers. Independent shops are found very regularly in almost any town or city. Privately contracted, custom body work is becoming more prevalent as well. Salary: In 2010 the median pay in this industry was $37,580 per year ($18.07 per hour). Mastery and custom design play a role in salary as well.
AUTO TECHNICIANS AND MECHANICS Ok, so you might have to be a gearhead to enter this field. Having worked with mechanics and auto technicians; I can guarantee that you cannot pigeonhole them into any single archetype. Some love it because they have always tinkered with things. Others relish the challenge of problem solving with logic and schematics. Many love working with their hands, or have always thought of themselves as amateur mechanical engineers. Training: Training includes (but isn’t limited to) a high school education and typically some formal secondary education, either technical school or community college. Training from specific dealerships or manufacturers is often required and ongoing as technology progresses. Employment opportunities: Employment can be found across the country wherever people live. Dealerships to small automotive repair shops and everywhere in between will need good mechanics. Salary:
The median pay for auto technicians and mechanics was $35,790 per year ($17.21 per hour) in 2010. This number would obviously be dependent on experience, education, and place of employment.
TRUCK DRIVERS Many people wouldn’t think of this field when contemplating a career in the automotive industry, but almost no one goes through a single day in the United States without consuming a product or service made possible by truck drivers. Over the last nineteen years I have grown infinitely more aware of how important our truckers are to the automotive industry and the country as a whole. Training: All commercial drivers must fulfill the requirements of the US Department of Transportation and hold a “Class A” Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) from one of the truck driving schools in the United States. More training may be necessary due to specialized loads and vehicles. Employment Opportunities: Employment can be found throughout the United States. I challenge you to drive any major roadway without seeing a truck driver on the job. Salary:
The Bureau of Labor Statistics found the 2010 median pay to be $37,770 per year ($18.16 per hour). These numbers vary from state to state and can also be dependent on experience.
AUTOMOTIVE SALES While mechanics and truck drivers tend to be independent jobs, positions are available in the automotive industry for the socially inclined too. Many think of the showroom car salesmen for this category but that makes up only about two thirds of this varied field. Training:
On the job training is usually sufficient and varies greatly on the individual employers standards. Having said that, a good mix of car knowledge and people skills are what employers will be looking for in this position.
Employment is only limited by the number and placement of dealerships around the country. The internet has taken a bite out of car sales, but since cars are bigger ticket items, people usually want to personally test them out before making such an investment.
In 2012, auto sales and related occupations earned an average of $45,280 per year ($21.77 per hour). Sales managers earned an average of $110, 980 per year ($53.36 per hour).