Demand for mechanics and technicians is growing. There are countless job openings for mechanics and technicians in companies all over the U.S. and Canada – and if you have the right skills and the right attitude, you should have no trouble filling one.
But what exactly is this career like? And how can you seize this opportunity?
What Is a Technician?
Generally, a technician is a worker who specializes in a specific skill or technique, with sufficient understanding of relevant theoretical principles. In common parlance, the term “technician” is often used to describe an automotive technician, and many people use the terms “mechanic” and “technician” interchangeably.
While there are some relevant differences between mechanics and technicians in the automotive industry, they are highly similar. Both roles are responsible for diagnosing and fixing issues related to cars; for example, they might both be able to identify worn brake pads and replace them, or replace broken parts so the vehicle can continue operating safely.
Automotive technicians specialize in vehicular technology. They typically have a higher skill level than their mechanic counterparts, and may have a different set of responsibilities as well.
Why There’s a Shortage of Technicians
Why is there such a shortage of automotive technicians?
There are a few explanations:
- Overeducated job seekers. These days, a college education is common. Many people have liberal arts degrees and are actively seeking white-collar work. There are fewer people seeking employment in trades and fewer people interested in working with their hands. Accordingly, there are far fewer job applicants for these positions.
- Demand for remote jobs. The COVID-19 pandemic played a role in normalizing remote work. There’s nothing wrong with working remotely, but the fact that so many people are exclusively interested in remote work positions means that fewer people are interested in applying to become a mechanic or technician.
- Demand for higher pay. Experienced mechanics and technicians have the opportunity to make lots of money, but many people are currently holding out for higher pay, thanks in part to rising rates of inflation. These people are unwilling to accept an entry-level salary, so they don’t bother applying for jobs for which they qualify.
- An aging population. The United States is burdened with an aging population. People are living longer and still retiring at the same age, so we have fewer people actively in the workforce. The COVID-19 pandemic also pressured many people to retire early, taking even more people out of the workforce. Demand for mechanics and technicians is growing while the pool of applicants is getting smaller.
- Stress and burnout. Some people worked themselves to the point of excessive stress and burnout, so much so that they dread the idea of ever returning to work, in any capacity. Because of this, millions of people in this country are simply not seeking active employment.
How to Become a Technician
So what’s the path to becoming an automotive technician?
- Seek education. There aren’t any formal requirements for education in many automotive technician roles. However, it’s a good idea to earn your high school diploma or the functional equivalent. If you have an associate degree or higher in a relevant field, this can increase your chances of getting hired, but this may not be a strict requirement.
- Get experience. Automotive industry companies are going to be much more likely to hire you if you already have experience in the field. If you’ve worked on cars as a mechanic or a technician for a few years, most establishments will be clamoring to hire you. So how do you get that initial experience? See if there are any mechanics in your area that are hiring and willing to provide on the job training. If there are entry level positions where you can learn the basics, you’ll have a clear path to gaining more experience. If that doesn’t work out, consider volunteering or shadowing a person with significant experience in this area. Failing that, you can always rely on online tutorials and working on the cars in your neighborhood to build your experience from the ground up.
- Attain certification. Depending on the role for which you’re applying, you may also require formal certification. For example, some employers may require you to have Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification. However, you’ll likely be able to start working as a mechanic or technician and pursue your certification later.
Performing the duties of an automotive technician isn’t the right career move for everyone. But if you’re ready for a career change, or if you’re just looking for a job that’s always in demand, this could be a rewarding opportunity for you.
Start looking for entry-level mechanic or technician jobs in your area and be ready to improve your skills.
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