| An indisputable fact of American life: our enduring love affair with our vehicles, some defining this as our freedom of mobility. Freedom becomes the active word. |
Another fact of American life is our shortage of people to repair these 233 million vehicles. The Bureau of Labor Statistics' forecasts that repair shops nationwide face an annual shortage of about 35,000 auto technicians through 2010. While the shortage is serious and could become increasingly so, the good news is that this situation identifies an excellent field of opportunity for young people looking for a satisfying career. That old label of an auto mechanic as a “grease monkey,” fortunately has gone out with high button shoes.
“The reality is,” says Mark Boswell of Goodyear Gemini Automotive Care, “that auto technicians are highly trained specialists typically holding well-paying jobs in comfortable surroundings.”
Addressing this issue, the industry emphasizes that opportunities present themselves to women in positions ranging from repair technicians to service advisors to parts and accessory sales. The industry is actively soliciting women who might be seeking careers with excellent benefits, opportunities seldom found in many fields.
ASE (National Institute For Automotive Service Excellence) for years has certified women for positions in the automotive service and parts industry, further underscoring the fact that automotive repair no longer is gender specific.
The Car Care Council now has a Women’s Board consisting of women who are active in the industry in positions ranging from public relations to shop ownership to parts and equipment sales. Women often are found to be adept in computer technology, less inclined to be intimidated by computers than men.
Regardless of gender, the pay scale is good. The national average salary for an auto technician in 2002 was $41,588, according to the National Automobile Dealers Association.
"in 2006, good technicians can make $70,000 with a little experience and the highest-paid can make $120,000,” according to John Dodson of the NASCAR Technical Institute, a division of Universal Technical Institute. “Because of the electronics and computers that are component parts, working with cars is tantamount to working with computers. High tech training is indispensable and, therefore, valuable.”
It’s a challenging field. Being an automotive technician is a job that requires detective skills because you have to keep digging at it until you figure it out. It’s not unusual for some technicians to take specialized courses five or six times a year. They also are encouraged to become ASE certified, which increases their value to the workplace and significantly can increase hourly wages.
In addition to independent service facilities, including specialty stores, the ever-expanding motorsports sector may be the magnet to attract people. It’s an exciting field and can be lucrative for bright, energetic young technicians.
For some automotive enthusiasts, many of whom are NACSAR fans, the idea of working with a race team could be a dream come true. A head start could result from the specialized training offered by NASCAR Technical Institute, the exclusive educational partner of NASCAR. Located in Mooresville, North Carolina, at the heart of racing country, this is the country’s first technical training school to combine a complete automotive technology program and a NASCAR-specific motor sports program. In addition to general training programs and those related to racing, NTI offers manufacturer-specific advanced training for several makes of vehicles.
Further to enhance the public image of auto mechanics, NASCAR has partnered with MagicDust Television to launch “NASCAR Angels” – a weekly reality TV show hosted by NASCAR legend Rusty Wallace – that demonstrated the importance of regular car maintenance. Joined by NASCAR drivers and crew chiefs, each week a team of automotive professionals from Goodyear Gemini facilities armed with NASCAR Performance automotive products, work on tight deadlines in true pit stop action as deserving families see their cars restored to tip-top condition.
"NASCAR Angels" complements the consumer education efforts of the automotive industry's "Be Car Care Aware" campaign and, with NASCAR flair, shows the importance of technicians in America.