Today's vehicles are sophisticated and complex machines. The average car has 6-20 computers that help manage everything from the sunroof to anti-lock braking system (ABS) to the electronically controlled transmission (ECT). And the technicians who service the vehicles need to be technologically savvy like never before.
The increasing demand for automotive technicians combined with good salaries make this a career choice that neither students, parents nor guidance counselors should ignore.
Alan Cherko, a shop owner in the Los Angeles area, says the potential exists for individuals who work hard at educating and certifying themselves to make "upwards of $80-100,000 per year." Cherko adds that "a willingness to continue education and pursue voluntary on-the-job training" helps put young technicians on the fast track.
Students who want to become automotive technicians can usually begin their careers after two years of study at a technical college, permitting budding technicians to enter the labor market sooner (and likely with less student debt) than their cohorts who attend college for four, six, or more years.
"Society feels young people must go to college to be successful but that's not true these days," said Bill Willis, a car dealer in Smyrna, Del. "Good techs are scarce and if you have the aptitude to turn a wrench and fix things, plus education and ASE certification, chances are that will equal a very secure job. We have lots of help these days with training from vehicle manufacturers. In addition, lots of businesses will 'grow' their techs from apprentice to top tech. They can move on to management later, if that's what they're looking for. It's an excellent career choice--better than 30 years ago."
And the tech's job is very portable; qualified technicians are in demand across the country.
Dave Watson, a shop owner in Littleton, Colo., and an ASE-certified master technician himself puts it this way: "A tech would be able to get a job almost anywhere because they are proven professionals. Shops are more than willing to pay for qualified techs. Besides, the country runs on its wheels."