The auto industry has a career for everyone. Maybe you’re a person who likes to work with your hands and solve problems. A career in auto service and repair offers variety in day-to- day work, along with the sense of a job well done when returning a repaired vehicle to its owner.

Maybe you’re looking for more opportunity to work with people thanks to great communication skills and a knack for customer service. Your personality fits a career as a service advisor, estimator, manager or parts professional.

Below, take a deeper dive into careers in high demand and find a position that lets you do what you love. Not only are the employment options endless, but you can work in many different settings, including:

  • Collision and mechanical repair facilities
  • New car dealers
  • Parts stores
  • Manufacturers and distributors
  • Insurance companies
  • Educational institutions

In Minnesota alone, there are more than 6,800 aftermarket/repair/service facilities, 1,500 auto dealerships and 150 supplier companies.

 

Auto Career Paths

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Auto Service Tech:

Diagnose, repair and perform preventative maintenance on cars and light trucks. Virtually every system on today’s vehicles is electronically controlled by computers, and auto techs use sophisticated diagnostic tools to improve engine performance and repair transmissions, steering and suspension, brake, electrical and heating and air conditioning systems. There is a high demand for well-trained technicians.

Salary: $39,600 median salary1

Education: High school diploma required. Auto-specific certificate or degree recommended.

Traits of the Best Auto Service Techs:

  • Love for hands-on work
  • Drive to take on a challenge and solve problems
  • Motivation to learn and adapt to ever-changing technology
  • Attention to detail when working on cars

Collision Tech:

Use specialized tools, materials and techniques to straighten or replace damaged body panels and structural components as well as perform related mechanical and electrical repairs, restraint system repairs and stationary glass replacement. Employees are in high demand, as accidents are common.

Salary: $43,800 median salary2

Education: High school diploma required. Auto-specific certificate or degree recommended.

Traits of the Best Collision Techs:

  • Attention to detail
  • Committed to keep up with techniques to restore modern vehicles
  • Interpersonal skills to work with the team and with customers
  • Ability to manage time efficiently and deliver repairs on time

Paint Tech:

Automotive paint technicians perform partial and complete refinishing of vehicles, applying the latest two-stage and three-stage paint technology. Create exciting custom paint jobs on new and vintage cars.

Salary: $47,760 median salary3

Education: High school diploma required. Auto-specific certificate or degree recommended.

Traits of the Best Paint Techs:

  • Steady hand and good hand-eye coordination
  • Attention to detail
  • Eye for creativity
  • Interpersonal skills to work with the team and with customers

Service Advisor:

Act as liaison between customers and auto techs to guide car repairs through the shop. Help identify cause of damage and options for repairs. Assist in ordering parts and double-checking car repairs. Deliver repaired vehicles to customers.

Salary: $38,700 median salary6

Education: High school diploma required. Auto-specific certificate or degree recommended.

Traits of the Best Service Advisors:

  • Knack for customer service, verbal and written communication
  • Ability to build trust and relationships with customers
  • Technical know-how of cars and repairs
  • Ability to manage multiple projects at once
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Collision Estimator:

Identifies required repair work and computes cost of replacement parts and labor to restore vehicle to its pre-accident condition using electronic estimating software. Explains estimate to customer and answers questions the customer has about the work needed. Works with insurance company representatives to manage claims.

Salary: $46,500 median salary4

Education: High school diploma required. Past auto experience recommended.

Traits of the Best Collision Estimators:

  • Attention to detail to ensure accuracy
  • Strong set of interpersonal communication skills
  • Customer service mindset dedicated to helping customers get back on the road
  • Ability to manage multiple projects at once

Auto Shop Owner:

Manage the day-to-day operations of an automotive repair facility, including staffing, facility/equipment, customer service, financial, marketing and other aspects of running a business. Often work in other positions within the industry before becoming an auto shop owner.

Salary: Varies based on experience and location.

Education: High school diploma required. Post-secondary education in business and/or automotive repair recommended.

Traits of the Best Auto Shop Owners:

  • Entrepreneurial and self-motivated personality
  • Ability to lead a team and solve problems
  • Go-getter attitude to tackle everyday challenges
  • Attention to detail to ensure shop is profitable and efficient

Parts Professional:

An automotive parts professional handles parts purchases by wholesale and retail customers over the phone, electronically and in person. The parts professional uses electronic catalogs to identify, source, sell and deliver the correct part needed for the job. They assist customers, manage inventory and deal with any returns or warranty issues that arise. Parts professionals work in a variety of settings, from auto parts stores and automotive recycling facilities to wholesale supply businesses and new car dealers.

Salary: $45,400 median salary5

Education: High school diploma required. Past auto experience recommended.

Traits of the Best Parts Professionals:

  • Extensive knowledge of auto repair and parts
  • Committed to customer service and communication
  • Experience in inventory management

Auto Machinist:

An automotive machinist builds, reconditions and repairs entire engines and various engine parts. A machinist operates equipment such as engine dynamometers, drills, lathes, mills and other shop hand tools. Machinists work in auto parts stores, industrial tool and die shops, or even as pit crew mechanics for NASCAR or other race circuits.

Salary: $42,1007

Education: High school diploma required. Auto-specific certificate or degree recommended.

Traits of the Best Auto Machinists:

  • Love for working with your hands
  • Drive to take on challenges and solve problems
  • Steady hand and good hand-eye coordination
  • Passion to work as a critical part of a team
Sources:
1. Careerwise, Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics
2. Careerwise, Automotive Body Repairers
3. Crash Network, April 24, 2017 • Vol. 24, No. 17
4. Payscale, Estimator Automobile Damage
5. Payscale, Parts Manager
6. Payscale, Service Advisor
7. Study.com, Engine Machinist