Dam I should have gone into a different trade!
Wow! I just keep getting a yearly cost of living raise, if I am lucky. What I have to pay now towards my family's medical insurance plan keeps going up to the point where I work a day, maybe more, just to pay for my family's heath coverage, thats if it has not been taken away! The tool guys prices keep going through the roof for the equipment and tools I need just to do my job. I feel that I should be able to add them as dependents on my taxes. These cars just keep getting harder and harder to work on. They are requiring more special tools and training but schooling is getting harder to come by and training books and other material costs are through the roof! It seems like I am going backwards as the rest of the skill trades just pass me by like I am standing still. No wonder so many people I know in my field are leaving for other jobs.
Where are these “just name your price jobs” that you read about in newspaper and magazine articles, and see on TV? Stories about automotive technicians being one of the hot jobs of tomorrow and major automotive technician shortages. Does the news industry ever stop to explain why there is a shortage and why it will be getting worse over the years? No they don't! They will not tell the public the truth because look at all the above mentioned so called sources of news and information. The automotive industry is one of their biggest sources of advertising revenue! They are not going to list the problems technicians face day by day just to get a pay check in this industry. Yes there is a demand for automotive technicians and over the next couple years there will be an even higher demand. Because technicians are leaving for other trades. They can't live on the pay they are getting or get burned out wondering if they have work the next day. Smarter young prospective job seekers are doing their home work and seeing the truth on pay and conditions in this trade. They are saying no thanks. I”ll spend my time and money towards an education in another trade or field of work.
The United States Governments Department of Labor web site says the average national automotive technician earns $33,680. Go to the governments web site and compare that to a HVAC technician or millwright and other jobs that we have the skills to go into and do for a living. Look at the governments web site and the salary numbers. Plus don't forget they are getting paid by the hour and get overtime wages because they come under the Fair Labor Standards Act. If you work “Flat Rate Pay” you do not come under the (FLSA) because of a loophole written back in the Great Depression year of 1938 when this bill was written. You are at the mercy of the shop's owner and your negotiating skills on what and how you are paid for hours worked.
Then there are those television ads for trade schools stating that technicians can make the big bucks. “You can earn six digit salaries plus easily”. Then they lie to try to sucker new people in to the industry by showing the student working on exotic cars and race cars in a pristine clean shop with all the newest equipment at their fingertips just to get young people interested in the trade and their school. They tell them NASCAR will be there at graduation waiting to take them to tracks to start working on the cars and trucks. They know that people who like to work with their hands and work around vehicles will see these ads and figure I can get great pay for what I love doing. Do you think these schools ever give these student any idea what to expect when they leave to come into the trade? Hell no is the answer! Not when these schools are sucking thousands and thousands of dollars out of them. It is not until these students leave with a two year degree in their hands and land their first job that they realize their mistake. When they are talking to the older technicians in the shop and seeing how things really are then they start questioning why they did not take something else. Then they get those first pay checks and wonder how are they going to live on it and pay back their student loans.
They also don't bother to tell you that the longer you are in this trade the bending and twisting and contorting your self into positions just to try to work on these new vehicles takes one hell of a toll on your body!
That if you are lucky to have some of the special diagnostic equipment you see in these ads and you did not buy it yourself there is only one in the shop for everyone to use, as you wait your turn as you try to beat the clock!
The truth is you will be working on lifts and other equipment made in the Cold War Days or older. Some shops have no safety devices on their lifts because they are so old. Just run real quick if the hydraulics would fail! Heck some of these lifts are not even made for today's vehicles. Here is some wood and some shaky jack stands, you will have to work around that problem as you try to beat the clock.
When the hydraulic lifts fail, we will replace them with the cheap above ground electric lifts. But remember every square inch is prime real-estate to the owner. You will not be getting any dead bay, because every bay in the shop has a lift and a technician for maximum profits. So if you are doing interior work, just try working around those big post and lift arms,and mind the customers body and paint.
If it's a big down job, get the vehicle back together enough to get it out the door so you can move on to the next job. Remembering that you do not get paid on getting the vehicle together enough to get it out of your bay and out of the shop so you can have your bay for the next job. As I have heard some owners say you will make that time up down the road.
Most shops spend as little as they have to on the service department equipment. Just what they need to in order to keep operational and maybe meet local or state laws if you're so lucky.
We need changes in this profession and we need them now! Please read my automotive link below and learn the truth!
Well it just keeps getting worse by the day. How many more technicians does it take to leave the trade before the automotive industry realizes that there is a major problem? One that they created! After screwing everyone look how the mighty have fallen. For lack of treating us like skilled technicians, not just bodies that you can fill at will. Well the surplus of bodies is drying up because no new blood is coming into the trade.
Do you feel like you are being left behind? Tired of all the BS and going through the paces day in and day out? Banging your head against a system that is so screwed up while you're getting stabbed in the back! Having major car manufacturers screw you because of their bad decisions and poor judgments and poor quality in their products which cost them profits and hurts their stock holders earnings. So they look at us to regain money by slashing warranty times.
Now the dealerships are losing pay from the manufacturers on repairs under warranty. Now these dealerships are failing or hurting or loosing their franchise do to the economy. This is just making working conditions even worse. Then there is the fact that the average new vehicle now costs about $24,000 and the average car depreciates about $4000 a year. That the majority of new vehicle buyers today hold on to their vehicles longer because they can't afford a new one every couple years. When they do need a new vehicle they find out their older vehicle is hardly worth anything as a trade in. So the dealerships are selling less and competing harder amongst themselves for that consumers business more then they ever had to in the past. Then there are those certain makes and models where the customers vehicles spend more time in the dealerships garage than theirs because of the manufacturers mistakes. So now the dealership needs to find new sources of revenue and takes it out on the technicians in numerous ways. We have a economy going to hell and fuel cost going up on a daily basis. More techs leave and are replaced with less skilled workers who then have an even harder time fixing todays complex vehicles and on it goes. It is a vicious cycle with no end in sight. We have shops dropping all guarantees on technicians. Read my Automotive link above, it details more problems and possible solutions.
Don't Fool yourself it is not going to get better. It may not be too late to change your occupation! If you don't they will, when your are no longer profitable to them, or you get sick or injured or get older and start slowing down. Remember to the automotive industry you are just a machine, a tool no more than that!
Last updated May 10, 2012
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