Some three million Americans work in the automotive industry. They work in sales, design, manufacturing, and repairs, just to name a few. It’s a thriving field that shows no signs of slowing down in the foreseeable future. Nearly every company in the world depends at least in part on motor vehicles, so you’re sure to find a job at a company near you. If you love cars, and diesel car parts, and want to earn money off your skills, here are some of the most popular careers in the automotive industry:
Commonly known as a mechanic, a motor vehicle service technician specializes in repairing and servicing various parts of the vehicle. You may work for an auto body shop, a manufacturing service center, or a company that needs to maintain a large fleet of vehicles. To be a technician, you must complete some form of post-secondary education and apply for certification in your jurisdiction to work as a mechanic. Nearly every town and city has at least one auto shop, so you shouldn’t have trouble finding a job wherever you happen to be. Technicians earned an average of $46,880 per year and $22.54 per hour in 2021, according to the latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but the rate of pay largely depends on the local cost of living.
You will need to decide what types of vehicles you want to repair based on your experience and the job opportunities in your area. Most cars run on diesel or traditional gasoline, but they have drastically different engine systems. Diesel trucks use highly compressed fuel and air to generate power, while gas-powered cars use spark plugs to trigger the combustion process. Diesel vehicles tend to be more durable than gas vehicles, but they have more parts to maintain.
Most consumers use gas-powered vehicles, but companies usually run on diesel, which can affect your final decision. You can research different replacement diesel truck parts online to learn more about these systems. You can also decide to be a jack of all trades by learning how to repair more than one type of engine system, which will increase your chances of employment. Electric vehicles are also increasing in popularity and servicing them requires an entirely new set of skills.
Of all those employed in the automotive industry, just under a million work in manufacturing but the other two million work in sales. Most Americans have at least one car but many will only drive the same vehicle for a certain number of years before they decide to invest in a new one. You can focus on selling new or used vehicles, depending on what’s available in your area. The pay ranges dramatically, and most salespeople are paid on commission.
You usually need at least some college to work as a salesperson with several years of experience under your belt. To get experience, try applying for a lower-level position at the company and work your way up from there. You also need strong interpersonal skills and knowledge of the latest vehicles for sale.
Trucks move and transport most of the physical goods circulating in the U.S., including consumer goods and raw natural materials. You’ll need to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL) in your state to start driving and familiarize yourself with diesel vehicles. Expect to be on the road or away from home for long stretches at a time. You may need to sleep in your truck overnight on long trips. The BLS reports the average truck driver made $48,310 per year and $23.23 per hour in 2021.
Depending on the nature of the job, you may also be responsible for maintaining the vehicle and troubleshooting problems on the road. As the driver, no one knows the vehicle better than you. Watch out for signs the truck needs to be repaired. All that heavy towing puts additional pressure on the engine and the oil that keeps it lubricated. Remember to replace the engine oil cooler if the engine loses power, to prevent it from overheating.
You can also work for an auto manufacturer or aftermarket part company designing new products and vehicles. An engineer may work on the same project for months, if not years, at a time. You may be tasked with designing new models or fixing existing issues. Engineers must also ensure their products comply with the latest environmental and safety regulations. You’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree in automotive design to start working your way up. They earned an average of $97,000 last year.
Finally, you can always be an automotive instructor if you don’t feel like getting your hands dirty. An instructor can mean many things, but these professionals often work in education. They help students and individuals prepare for driving exams and certifications. You will need to be a good communicator with a patient demeanor to succeed in the job. Most jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree.
From fixing engines to hauling goods across the country, there are so many ways to make money in the automotive industry. You can put your passion to work and enhance your knowledge of motor vehicles. Choose a career that suits your experience and skill set.