Careers and Jobs as Teachers in Automotive Training

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QUICK FACTS about this job:

  • School Subjects: Speech, Technical/shop
  • Personal Skills: Mechanical/manipulative; Helping/teaching
  • Work Environment: Mostly indoors, Primarily one location
  • Minimum Education Level: Associate’s degree
  • Salary Range: $25,420 to $46,000 to $73,610+
  • Certification or Licensing: Required (secondary teachers)
  • None available (college teachers)
  • Outlook: Decline (secondary teachers); Much faster than the average (college teachers)
  • DOT: 097
  • GOE: 12.03.02, 12.03.03
  • NOC: 4131, 4141
  • O*NET-SOC: 25-1194.00, 2S-2032M0


Automotive teachers instruct students regarding automotive-related subjects at high schools and colleges and universities. They lecture classes, conduct hands-on instruction in repair shops and laboratories, and create and grade examinations.They also may conduct research, write for publication, and aid in administration.


In American colonial times, organized adult education was started to help people make up for schooling missed as children or to help people prepare for jobs. Apprenticeships were an early form of vocational education in the American colonies as individuals were taught a craft by working with a skilled person in a particular field. Training programs continued to develop as carpenters, bricklayers, and other craftspeople learned their skills through vocational training courses.

In 1911, Wisconsin established the first State Board of Vocational and Adult Education in the country, and in 1917 the federal government supported the continuing education movement by funding vocational training in public schools for individuals over the age of 14. Immediately after World War II, the federal government took another large stride in financial support of adult and vocational education by creating the G.I. Bill of Rights, which provided money for veterans to pursue further job training.

Today colleges and universities, vocational high schools, private trade schools, private businesses, and other organizations offer adults the opportunity to prepare for a specific occupation, such as automotive technology or collision repair, or pursue personal enrichment.

The National Association of College Automotive Teachers (now known as the North American Council of Automotive Teachers) was founded in 1977 to serve the professional needs of automotive teachers.


In the classroom, high school automotive teachers instruct students regarding a variety of automotive-related subjects such as brakes, electrical systems, collision repair, suspension and steering, heating and air-conditioning systems, and engine repair. They spend a great deal of time lecturing, but also teach students via hands-on training in on-site repair facilities. Outside of the classroom and repair shop, high school automotive teachers prepare lectures, lesson plans, and exams. They evaluate student work and calculate grades. In the process of planning their class, secondary school teachers read textbooks and workbooks to determine reading assignments; photocopy notes, articles, and other handouts; and develop grading policies. They also continue to study alternative and traditional teaching methods to hone their skills. They prepare students for special events and conferences and submit student work to competitions.

College automotive instructors teach at junior and technical colleges or at four-year colleges and universities. They cover a wide variety of subjects ranging from automotive repair technology, to automotive engineering, to automotive design. Typical classes taught by college automotive teachers include Introduction to Collision Repair, Introduction to Automotive Engine Repair, Welding for Automotive Mechanics, Basic Automotive Air Conditioning, Introduction to Automotive Engineering, Adapters/Tools/Measurements, Interior Body Construction, Auto Collision Welding, Frame and Unibody Damage Analysis, Steering/Suspension, Color-Matching, Basic Automotive Electricity, Automotive Maintenance and Inspection Procedures, Automotive Engine Performance Diagnosis, Automotive Brake Systems, Automotive Drive Lines and Repair Procedures, Hybrid Engines, and Introduction to Alternative Fuel Cell Technology.

College automotive instructors’ most important responsibility is to teach students. Their role within a college department will determine the level of courses they teach and the number of courses per semester. They may head several classes a semester or only a few a year. Some of their classes will have large enrollment, while advanced seminars may consist of only 12 or fewer students.

Though college automotive teachers may spend fewer than 10 to 15 hours a week in the actual classroom, they spend many hours preparing lectures and lesson plans, grading papers and exams, preparing grade reports, and readying the repair shops for classes. They also schedule office hours during the week to be available to students outside of class, and they meet with students individually throughout the semester. In the classroom, teachers lecture, lead discussions, administer exams, and assign textbook reading and other research. They also teach students in an industrial setting, or repair shop, that allows students to get hands-on experience repairing automobile engines, fixing collision damage, or using welding tools to fabricate auto parts.

In addition to teaching, most college automotive teachers con duct research and write publications. Professors publish their research findings in various industry journals. They also write books based on their research or on their own knowledge and experience in the field.


High School

Your high school’s college preparatory program likely includes courses in English, science, foreign language, history, math, and government. In addition, you should take courses in speech to get a sense of what it will be like to lecture to a group of students. Your school’s debate team can also help you develop public speaking skills, along with research skills. You should take as many automotive technology classes as possible.

Postsecondary Training

If you want to teach at the high school level, you may choose to major in your subject area while taking required education courses, or you may major in secondary education with a concentration in automotive technology. You will also need to student teach in an actual classroom environment.

For prospective professors, you will need at least one degree in your chosen field of study—automotive technology, engineering, design, or a related field. If you plan on teaching a hard science, such as automotive engineering, you will need at least a master’s degree to work as a professor.

Other Requirements

To be a successful automotive teacher, you need to be an expert in automotive technology and related fields. People skills are important because you’ll be dealing directly with students, administrators, and other faculty members on a daily basis. You should feel comfortable in a role of authority and possess self-confidence.

cif-automotive-145.jpg A student in a college automotive technology program uses computer technology to help diagnose a problem with a vehicle.


Start learning about this career by talking to your high school auto motive technology teachers about their careers. Work on cars to gain valuable firsthand experience. An after-school job in a repair shop or dealership can give you an introduction to the world of automotives. You can develop your own teaching experience by volunteering at a community center, or working at a summer camp, or teaching a friend how to do a basic car repair. Also, spend some time on a college campus to get a sense of the environment. Write to colleges for their admissions brochures and course catalogs (or check them out online); read about the faculty members and the courses they teach. Before visiting college campuses, make arrangements to speak to automotive instructors who teach courses that interest you. These educators may allow you to sit in on their classes and observe.


Automotive teachers are employed at high schools, vocational and technical colleges, and colleges and universities. Although rural areas maintain schools, more teaching positions are available in urban or suburban areas.


Secondary school automotive teachers can use their college career services offices and state departments of education to find job openings. Many local schools advertise teaching positions in newspapers. Another option is to directly contact the administration in the schools in which you’d like to work. While looking for a full-time position, you can work as a substitute teacher. In more urban areas with many schools, you may be able to find full-time substitute work.

Many students begin applying for postsecondary teaching positions while finishing their college program. Some professional associations maintain lists of teaching opportunities in their areas. They may also make lists of applicants available to college administrators looking to fill an available position.


As secondary teachers acquire experience or additional education, they can expect higher wages and more responsibilities. Teachers with leadership skills and an interest in administrative work may advance to serve as principals or supervisors, though the number of these positions is limited and competition is fierce. Another move may be into higher education, teaching education classes at a college or university. For most of these positions, additional education is required.

At the postsecondary level, the normal pattern of advancement is from instructor to assistant professor, to associate professor, to full professor. College faculty members who have an interest in and a talent for administration may be advanced to chair of a department or to dean of their college. Many automotive instructors continue to work in their chosen field—for example, as an automotive mechanic, engineer, or collision repair specialists—while working as teachers.


The median annual salary for secondary vocational education teachers was $48,690 in 2006, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $33,070; the highest 10 percent earned $73,280 or more. The median salary for postsecondary vocational education teachers was $43,900 in 2006, with 10 percent earning $73,610 or more, and 10 percent earning $25,420 or less.

Benefits for full-time teachers typically include health insurance and retirement funds and, in some cases, stipends for travel related to research, housing allowances, and tuition waivers for dependents.


Most teachers are contracted to work 10 months out of the year, with a two-month vacation during the summer. During their summer break, many continue their education to renew or upgrade their teaching licenses (for secondary school teachers) and earn higher salaries. Teachers in schools that operate year-round work eight- week sessions with one-week breaks in between and a five-week vacation in the winter.

Teachers work in generally pleasant conditions, although some older schools may have poor heating or electrical systems. The work can seem confining, requiring them to remain in the classroom throughout most of the day.

High school hours are generally held from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., but teachers work more than 40 hours a week teaching, preparing for classes, grading papers, and directing extracurricular activities. Similarly, most college teachers work more than 40 hours each week. Although they may teach only two or three classes a semester, they spend many hours preparing for lectures, examining student work, and conducting research.

Depending on the size of the department, college teachers may have their own office, or they may have to share an office with one or more colleagues. Their department may provide them with a computer, Internet access, and research assistants. College teachers can arrange their schedule around class hours, academic meetings, and the established office hours when they meet with students.


According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, employment opportunities for vocational education teachers at the secondary level are expected to decline through 2016. Despite this prediction, the need to replace retiring teachers will provide opportunities nationwide.

The U.S. Department of Labor predicts excellent employment growth for college vocational education teachers through 2016 due to a growing emphasis on career and technical education at this level. College enrollment is projected to grow due to an increased number of 18- to 24-year-olds, adults returning to college, and foreign-born students. Retirement of current faculty members will also provide job openings.


To read about the issues affecting college professors, contact

American Association of University Professors

1012 14th Street, NW, Suite 500

Washington, DC 20005-3406

Tel: 202-737-5900


For information about careers and current issues affecting teachers, contact or visit the Web sites of the following organizations:

American Federation of Teachers

555 New Jersey Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20001-2029

Tel: 202-879-4400

National Education Association

1201 16th Street, NW

Washington, DC 20036-3290

Tel: 202-833-4000

For industry information, contact:

Association for Career and Technical Education

1410 King Street

Alexandria, VA 22314-2749

Tel: 800-826-9972 and

For information on a career as an automotive teacher, contact

North American Council of Automotive Teachers

11956 Bernardo Plaza Drive, PMB 436

San Diego, CA 92128-2538

Tel: 858-487-8126



Mike Dommer is an instructor of automotive technology at Indian Hills Community College (IHCC, http:// in Iowa. He discussed the field below:

Q. Tell us about your program and your background.

A. Our program is 18-months in length. Upon successful completion the student receives an A.A.S. degree in automotive technology. Students who do not complete the whole program to include the transferable arts and science courses receive certificates for the technical courses they have completed. Our program is year-round; we do not break in the summer. One of the unique things about our school is that we have a four-day school week. This is a pretty good incentive for our students who have part-time jobs.

I completed the “auto mechanics” one-year diploma program here at IHCC in 1972. During high school I worked at a local full-service gas station that did all types of mechanical repairs on cars and trucks. From 1972 until 1993 I worked as an automotive technician and later as a service manager in General Motors / Chrysler dealerships. I owned and operated my own shop from 1988 to 1990. I am ASE certified as a master automotive tech. I also hold ASE certifications in Li automotive advanced performance, parts, service advisor, and under-car specialist.

I have been in the Iowa Army National Guard for 30 years. My experiences there are as a combat engineer officer and as a maintenance technician. I have been mobilized/deployed twice in my career. The most recent was from February 2003 — June 2004. During that time I was the maintenance supervisor for a transportation company with more than 70 tactical cargo trucks and tractors, many of which were built in the l970s. I was also responsible for the maintenance and repair of all the other unit equipment to include generators and individual and crew-served weapons.

Q. What is one thing that young people may not know about a career in automotive technology?

A. Many of our students are unaware of the technical knowledge that is required of today’s automotive technicians. It seems like some are guided into the career field by counselors or relatives who do not have a very good understanding about how the career field has transformed over the past 20 to 30 years.

Q. What made you want to become an automotive technology teacher?

A. As a service manager working in dealerships I was frustrated with the difficulty in hiring qualified auto techs, even at the entry level. Idealistically, I thought I might be able to impact that shortage by being involved in the education process.

Q. What advice would you offer automotive technology majors as they graduate and look for jobs?

A. To continue their education, if not through their employer then through self-study. To be open to all opportunities in the automotive field to include management, parts, or training opportunities. To be a professional and take pride in their career of choice and to portray a positive image.

Q. What are the most important personal and professional qualities for teachers? Automotive technology majors?

A. As a teacher:

• You need to take the initiative to seek out new technology and training to keep current as possible.

• Serve as a role model to the students someone who is professional as well as technically proficient.

• Don’t be afraid to challenge your students; students will live up to or down to the standards you establish.

• Constantly review and update courses and curriculum as needed to keep current with industry needs.

• Keep in touch with industry needs (advisory committees, National Automobile Dealers Association, industry publications).

As a student:

• Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself.

• Seek out learning opportunities.

• Be professional.

Q. What is the employment outlook in the field?

A. The employment outlook is excellent in the field for the quality graduate. These are the ones who look at the field as a profession. Employers are looking for smart people just like every other field. It takes a lot more discipline, commitment, and organization to be a truly successful technician and problem solver. There are also many opportunities in related areas such as parts, management, and related aftermarket jobs.

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