America’s obsession with cars is not a faint one. There are nearly 276 million cars in the U.S., scattered among 91.5% of households, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. If you’re looking for work opportunities that will be around for a long while, consider jobs in the automotive industry.
Most positions, including entry-level jobs, include benefits such as health and dental insurance, a 401(k) program and paid time off. Many companies also offer paid training, help you earn relevant certifications and provide advancement opportunities.
Vehicles require regular basic maintenance, from oil changes to filter replacements. As a lube technician, you’d check and change engine fluids, adjust tire pressure and lubricate engine parts as needed.You may conduct emission inspections, too. Most lube tech listings are for entry-level positions, with on-the-job training.
As you advance in the role, you may also perform vehicle diagnostics, repair steering and braking systems, test components and even oversee other technicians. The technical knowledge you gain also prepares you to earn Automotive Service Excellence certification, which can open up future work opportunities.
Wondering why your check engine light is on? Or what that strange knocking sound is? Aside from conducting multi-point inspections, service technicians are the ones who diagnose issues and suggest repairs. You’ll likely need ASE or dealership manufacturer certification to qualify for this automotive job. You should be familiar with all the major manufacturers, as well. If you are good at troubleshooting and explaining issues to customers, you’re the right kind of person for this type of work.
While a service technician does some repair work, they mainly focus on diagnosing electrical indicators — i.e. why the low tire pressure warning is always on. What is it like to be a car mechanic? You’ll do the hands-on work. For example, you would change the oil, adjust a timing belt or replace brake pads. Find work at a private shop or dealership, or perhaps as a fleet manager for a college, large business or school district. As a shop mechanic, you may work on all types of vehicles:
- Cars, trucks, motorcycles, etc.
- Large machinery
Body Shop Technician
Rather than the inner workings of a vehicle, a body shop technician is concerned with the shell and frame. If you’ve ever had your car transformed back into itself following a collision, you appreciate their work. A body shop technician assesses damages and makes repairs as needed, including hammering out dents, disassembling and reassembling panels, straightening body frames and painting. Those skills you learned perfecting your pinewood derby car are about to pay off.
As a collision repair estimator, you would estimate the costs for any body or mechanical damage. You also might prepare lists of any needed parts to complete the repairs. You may work with both the vehicle owner and an insurance company to schedule repairs and arrange payments. Necessary qualifications could include:
- I-CAR certification, which verifies you are trained in the latest repair techniques
- Knowledge of insurance industry requirements
- Understanding of metals used in vehicles
- Ability to analyze technical data
Auto Glass Installer
Not all cosmetic vehicle repairs are large-scale. If a windshield, window or sunroof is damaged — from a barrage of gravel to an errant golf ball — an auto glass installer replaces it. In addition to the actual installation, your responsibilities could include taking measurements, cleaning up broken glass and even negotiating prices with insurers. You may find work with companies that solely replace and repair automotive glass, a collision repair shop or perhaps a car dealership.
In the Details
Some automotive jobs don’t require any mechanical expertise. A detailer is responsible for keeping vehicles looking good, whether for a new or previously owned car dealership, a repair shop or a car wash. For a car dealership, you might check that cars are fueled or prep trade-ins for the sales floor. At a detail shop, you might wash, wax and buff vehicles on the outside, then meticulously clean every nook and cranny of the interior.
If you know a lot about car parts, or you’re just good at being organized, you could do well as a parts specialist. As such, you might be responsible for helping individual customers in a parts store. Or, you could work with automotive shops, finding and delivering needed parts. Computer skills are a plus, as you’ll likely keep track of inventory, quote prices and arrange deliveries.
If working with cars is your passion, search KSL Jobs. We have more than 150 listings for automotive jobs, from entry-level to advanced positions. Apply right from the listing — just click or tap on the Apply Now button. Most openings require a high school diploma. On your application, be sure to note any certifications or a relevant associate degree, both of which can help you stand out.