When speaking to students at career day events, I often use my own career path as an example of how technical knowledge and ongoing training can open up many new working worlds most people might never have considered when they graduated with a science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) degree.
In fact, so many people have started their careers in the automotive aftermarket as an auto technician that it is viewed as something of a portal career. I began my automotive career like many baby boomers, working at a local gas station and learning from the experienced technicians who took the time to mentor and help develop my skills without really realizing what a significant impact they would have on my life.
After studying journalism in college, I quickly found that I could actually command a higher salary doing what I used to do part-time – working on cars in a dealership service department. Since I had a college degree, I quickly found myself promoted to service manager and from there, I began a journey that saw my technical skills open up opportunities in publishing and the nonprofit sector, working for companies that supplied information to shops, certification for technicians and leading to my current position as vice president of the Automotive Service Association. It’s been quite a rewarding ride!
For those whose true calling is in the service bay, it’s far from a dead-end career. Top-notch technicians, well versed in computer diagnostics and the latest engine performance and drivability solutions, can and do command top-dollar salaries. Pride in work, technical savvy and craftsmanship are rewarded handsomely in many top repair facilities across the nation, in both the public and private sectors.
I’ve also found that having both professional and technical skills makes one’s career choices eminently portable, and I’ve had the opportunity to choose not only where I’d like to work, but also where I’d like to live in this great nation. If an individual’s goal is to get out into the real world and make his or her mark, while also having the flexibility that comes with demand-driven choices, consider a career in automotive technology.
Our final installment in this blog series will wrap back to the beginning, as I provide a road map detailing how to get started and what training and education opportunities are available to help you get the skills necessary for a successful automotive career. Stay tuned!