Advice to New Technicians
An old client reached out to me recently to thank me and talk about how he is now in the auto industry himself. I wanted to hear his story and know what made him get into this sometimes-rough business.
He said his desire and intrigue for wanting to work on cars and understand how they worked was his driving force. He was always fascinated by them but never had the opportunity to learn when he was younger. Being a solutions-oriented person, he found it frustrating when his family’s car would break down and he didn’t know how to fix it or understand what had happened.
The process to get started was very straightforward and he found a job offer on Indeed.com. He works at a dealership and they covered his training—already worked himself up to a Level 2 technician. Although he is still making less money than being a welder and took about a 2/3 pay cut, he’s happier.
It wasn’t an easy start though. Knowing nothing. Needing to purchase tools. More experienced technicians unwilling to help him. Office/shop politics… It was a lot to navigate all at once. He said the right attitude is super important when starting out. Buying tools, marking your financial commitment to your new trade. Committing yourself to training and being open to learn something new everyday. Knowing your jobs are assigned by advisers and learning to work with (sometimes difficult) people. And most rewarding, earning the respect of the older technicians.
He understands why they had to let him struggle and it’s not even because no one helped them. If they stopped every time – he would have never learned. By making mistakes, by feeling the pressure, by seeing a tiny paycheck* because hours weren’t produced—all these are big pushes for young technicians. He shared how once he spent two hours on something when finally a highly experienced technician took pity and helped him. A mere five minutes to move past the roadblock he encountered. He learned problem solving and gained valuable experience. Learning to save the big questions on challenges he knew for sure he’d need help from someone more experienced and only ask for help when he really needed it.
Overall now, he is glad he made the career change. The money isn’t where it was but there are things more important than money, such as the growth of learning a new skill, commute times, schedule, and work environment. This industry can be very rewarding, but also hard - especially on the young people entering.
*Most mechanics, especially at dealers, are only paid on a flat rate system. Meaning if you only produce 20 billable hours of work per week, you only get paid 20 hours of work. Doesn’t matter if you are physically there all day. (Most technicians will arrive early and stay late to pick up jobs)