Automotive-Related Career Opportunities; Service Training

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In addition to careers in automotive service, there are many other job opportunities directly related to the automotive industry.

Parts Distribution

The aftermarket refers to the network of businesses that supplies replacement parts to independent service shops, car and truck dealerships, fleet operations, and the general public.

Vehicle manufacturers and independent parts manufacturers sell and supply parts to approximately a thousand warehouse distributors throughout the United States. These warehouse distributors (WDs) carry substantial inventories of many part lines.

Warehouse distributors serve as large distribution centers. WDs sell and supply parts to parts wholesalers, commonly known as jobbers.

Jobbers sell parts and supplies to shops and do it-yourselfers. Jobbers often have a delivery service that gets the desired parts to a shop shortly after it ordered them. Some parts stores focus on individual or walk-in customers. These businesses offer the do-it- yourselfers repair advice, and some even offer testing of old components. Selling good parts at a reasonable price and offering extra services to their customers are the characteristics of successful parts stores. Many jobbers operate machine shops that offer another source of employment for skilled technicians. Jobbers or parts stores can be independently owned and operated. They can also be part of a larger national chain. Auto manufacturers have also set up their own parts distribution systems to their dealerships and authorized service outlets.

Parts manufactured by the original vehicle manufacturer are called original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts.

Opportunities for employment exist at all levels in the parts distribution network, from warehouse distributors to the counter-people at local jobber outlets.

Marketing and Sales

Companies that manufacture equipment and parts for the service industry are constantly searching for knowledgeable people to represent and sell their products. For example, a sales representative working for an aftermarket parts manufacturer should have a good knowledge of the company's products. The sales representative also works with WDs, jobbers, and ser vice shops to make sure the parts are being sold and installed correctly. They also help coordinate training and supply information so that everyone using their products is properly trained and informed.

Other Opportunities

Other career possibilities for those trained in auto motive service include automobile and truck recyclers, insurance company claims adjusters, auto body shop technicians, and trainers for the various manufacturers or instructors for an automotive program. The latter two careers require solid experience and a thorough understanding of the automobile. It’s not easy being an instructor or trainer; however, passing on knowledge can be very rewarding. Undoubtedly, there is no other career that can have as much impact on the automotive service industry as that of a trainer or instructor.

++ A career possibility for an experienced technician is that of a trainer for the various manufacturers or instructors for an automotive program.

++ Many parts stores are part of a national corporation with stores located across the country.

++ The auto parts supply network.


Those interested in a career in auto service can receive training in formal school settings-secondary, postsecondary, and vocational schools; and technical or community colleges, both private and public.

Student Work Experience

There are many ways to gain work experience while you are a student. You may already be involved in one of the following; if not, consider becoming involved in one of these possibilities.

Job Shadowing --Program In this program you follow an experienced technician or service writer. The primary program objective is to expose you to the "real world," to see what it takes to be a successful technician or service writer. By job shadowing, you will also become familiar with the total operation of a service department.

Mentoring Program-- This program has the lowest participation rate of all these programs but can be one of the most valuable. In a mentoring program, you have someone who is successful to use as an expert. Your mentor has agreed to stay in contact with you, to answer questions, and to encourage you. When you have a good mentor, you have some one who may be able to explain things a little differently than the way things are explained in class.

A mentor may also be able to give real life examples of why some of the things you need to learn are important.

Cooperative Education--This type of program is typically 2 years in length. One year is spent in school and the other in a dealership or service facility. This does not mean that 1 solid year is spent in school; rather you spend 8 to 12 weeks at school, and then work for 8 to 12 weeks. The switching back and forth continues for 2 years. Not only do you earn an hourly wage while you are working, you also earn credit toward your degree or diploma. While at work, you get a chance to practice and perfect what you learned in school. Your experiences at work are carefully coordinated with your experiences at school; therefore, it’s called a cooperative program-industry cooperates with education. Examples of this type of program are the Chrysler CAPS, Ford ASSET, GM ASEP, and Toyota T-Ten (in Canada these are called T-TEP) programs.

Apprenticeship Program-- Similar to a cooperative education program, an apprenticeship program com bines work experiences with education. The primary difference between the two programs is that in an apprenticeship program students attend classes in the evening after completing a day's work. During this rigorous training program, you receive a decent hourly wage and plenty of good experience. You start the program as a helper to an experienced technician and can begin to do more on your own as you progress through the program. Most apprenticeship programs take 2 years to complete. Automobile manufacturers and dealers often sponsor these programs.

Part-Time Employment--The success of this experience depends on you and your drive to learn. Working part-time will bring you good experience, some income, and a good start in getting a great full-time position after you have completed school. The best way to approach this is to find a position and service facility that will allow you to grow. You need to start at a right level and be able to take on more difficult tasks when you are ready. The most difficult challenge when working part-time is to keep up with your education while you are working. Many times work may get in the way, but if you truly want to learn, you will find a way to fit your educational needs around your work schedule.

Postgraduate Education-- A few manufacturer pro grams are designed for graduates of postsecondary schools. These programs train individuals to work on particular vehicles. For example, BMW's Service Technician Education Program (STEP) is a scholar ship program for the top graduates of automotive postsecondary schools. Students in the program apply what they learned in their 2-year program and learn to diagnose and service BMW products. BMW says this program is the most respected and intense training program of its kind in the world. For more information go to

The Need for Continuous Learning

Training in automotive technology and service does not end with graduation. Nor does the need to read end. A professional technician constantly learns and keeps up to date. In order to maintain your image as a professional and to keep your knowledge and skills up to date, you need to do what you can to learn new things. You need to commit yourself to lifelong learning.

There are many ways in which you can keep up with the changing technology. Short courses on specific systems or changes are available from the manufacturers and a number of companies that offer formal training, such as such as Federal Mogul, NAPA, AC Delco, and local parts jobbers. There are also several on-line courses available. It’s wise to attend update classes as soon as you can. If you wait too long, you may have a difficult time catching up with the ever changing technologies.

In addition to taking classes, you can learn by reading automotive magazines or the newest editions of automotive textbooks. A good technician takes advantage of every opportunity to learn.

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