Topnotch training is the road to success in today's automotive field.
"The days of the grease monkey . . . are behind us. We are moving into highly" complex vehicles, notes Rodney Pierini, president and chief executive officer with the California/Nevada Automotive Wholesalers Association, whose members supply parts to professional installers as well as the public.
Pierini likens today's autos to computers on wheels. "We have to have qualified people to diagnose and repair them." He believes people with a computer background would have an edge at landing a job as a well-paid technician.
If you're looking for other opportunities, the automotive field is a growth industry that "has a good base of jobs - anything you can imagine, from sales and repairs to distribution. Young people should look to the automotive trade to pursue a career," Pierini believes. "It's an old industry . . . its future is stable."
AutojobZ.com, for example, is a popular automotive website that has openings for car sales, service, parts, body shop technicians, painters, Internet manager, and general management positions.
Pierini feels the industry particularly needs qualified people with business acumen - the know-how to manage employees and the ability to read and understand profit and loss statements. Opening your own auto parts store may not be such a good idea, however. Pierini notes that the industry is going through consolidations similar to what the corner pharmacies went through 10 to 15 years ago. More mom and pop auto parts stores are finding it hard to compete with major chains.
Shift to Car Repair
"The income for today's computer people has been capped at about $35,000 because of the economy," declares Ron Blicksilver sales manager at NeedTechs.com and a 33-year auto industry veteran. "But an experienced automotive technician could earn over $60,000 annually."
He should know. His site placed 2400 technicians last year.
Blicksilver confirms there is a nationwide shortage of qualified automotive technicians to fill spots at some of the 42,000 independent and franchise dealers in the US.
Having the Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) designation boosts a technician's pay and employability. The courses take about five years to complete and training occurs on the job. Testing is done after a specific specialty is completed.
Blicksilver says in spite of the shaky economy, the automotive industry is rolling along smoothly.
"Last year thousands of cars were sold at zero interest," he notes. "And dealers were kept busy with regular inspections and maintenance. After all, repairs on a family automobile are not subject to market conditions."
A place to begin training for such a career is Sequoia Institute (sequoia institute.com) in Fremont. Since 1963, the school has been preparing graduates for recession-proof careers in automotive technology. The school also offers an intensive seven-month ASE certification program.
Auto Lot Lowdown
According to Jay Fletcher, general manager at Suburban Ford in Sacramento, the industry as a whole offers great opportunities but there aren't a lot of openings at his business because his employees stay on the job. "Our employees have repeat customers and that's what makes us successful," he explains.
He feels the right people do very well on his commission-based sales team where transactions are equally split between new and used vehicles. "We are looking for clean cut, honest people and prior experience is not required," he states. "We have on-the-job training that covers new product information to sales techniques."
Juan Gonzalez worked as a maitre d' in an Bay Area restaurant and as a public school teacher before opening the door to an automotive sales career at Mike Harvey Honda in Burlingame.
"I got disillusioned with teaching and its low pay and wanted to get involved in sales, so I answered an ad," he recalls. "The opportunity to make money is tremendous because it depends entirely on your sales creativity and hard work.
"Although I work seven days a week, I don't take the office home like I did when I was a teacher," he says. "I also enjoy the way I can interact with customers and follow a transaction through to the end.
I'm always happy."
Here is contract information for sources in this story plus other helpful websites:
Sequoia Institute - sequoiainstitute.com, 1-800-248-8585.
Suburban Ford - suburbanford.com, 916-344-1136.
Mike Harvey Honda - mikeharveyhonda.com, 650-579-6800.
AutoHeadHunter.net - Free resume posting service plus access to the latest automotive employment information, interviewing tips and tools, industry events, relocation information and salary calculator.
AutoCareers.com - Complete employment resource center for the entire automotive Industry.
AutoTradeJobs.com - Job listings, news and resources for automotive professionals.
GreatAutoJobs.com - Job listings and resources at auto dealerships.
AutoTechsUSA.com - Job listings and resources for the automotive industry.
MotorCareers.com - Job listings and resources for the automotive industry.
CarCareers.com - Job listings for the automotive industry.
NeedTechs.com - Automotive resource center with listings for auto technicians.
MechanicCareers.com - Job listings for auto technicians and other mechanics.
Automotive Careers USA, Inc. - AutoCareersUSA.com. Management search and personnel staffing firm for automotive dealerships across the United States. Also includes job listings.
Automotive Employment Connection - autosuperstores.com/careers. Management/search firm for the automobile industry. Includes job listings.