After high school, Tim McCarthy was uncertain what road to follow as he looked at the career options. He had some friends who enjoyed working on cars in their free time, but careers in automotive weren’t on his radar. He began working various jobs to get by but wasn’t seeing a long-term future. After a few years in retail, Tim realized that he wanted a change and chose to work toward a career that would offer the opportunity for advancement. Tim realized that he had a true passion for cars that could be his path to a successful future.
Position: Auto Service Technician
Job description: Work in auto shop to provide service and maintenance to vehicles.
Salary: Median salary for an auto service tech is $39,6001. Experience influences pay rate.
Job outlook: Faster than average.
Education: High school diploma required. Auto-specific degree or certificate preferred.
Character traits: Motivated to problem-solve and tackle challenges. Like being active and working with hands.
Benefits: Sense of accomplishment when delivering a vehicle in good condition back to its owner.
For Tim, working in the automotive field has allowed him a steady income while completing his degree work at Hennepin Technical College. He has been able to gain valuable experience in a hands-on setting that will help him advance in the field more quickly. Tim is happy to be living out an opportunity that seemed far off just a few years ago. He notes, “I love seeing the looks on customers’ faces when their car has been repaired. Knowing somebody trusts you to do good work and care for their car is a really great feeling.” He enjoys keeping up with the industry’s technological advancements.
“A great attitude sets the tone for everyone,” says Tim. His advice to students and those new to the industry is to always be dedicated to what you do. Learn and share the information that allows everyone around you to understand that you’re putting in the work – push through and do well in school or in the shop. You need to “treat customers’ cars as if they are your own and always keep learning,” says Tim, since models are constantly changing. Tim added, “It’s a big responsibility, but to say I went through eight vehicles today to the best of my ability…it makes me feel good to know that they’re in good shape.”
Having a passion for cars is the first step to becoming an auto tech. The next step is pursuing an auto education, like Tim, who began at Anoka Technical College, where mentors helped him with application and enrollment. He is preparing to graduate with his AAS degree in automotive technology from Hennepin Technical College. Throughout schooling you will learn the technical side of vehicle service and repair, while becoming familiar with the tools and equipment techs use on the job. Students who pursue an auto education demonstrate their knowledge and build credibility, making it easier to land a job and advance their career.
Cars today are closely integrated with computers. Some cars contain as many as 30 computers to manage the various systems. This trend in the industry is only going to continue, so it’s important for students to be comfortable with technology and know how to troubleshoot electronics.