Average work life of a Technician

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  #1  
Old 09-30-03, 09:04 AM
jabari
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Average work life of a Technician

I am a 29year old automotive student & I was wondering what is the average work life of a tech? I have heard 20-to30 years. I have also heard that at my age I might be to old to start as a tech. Can some of you veterans answer this for me.
 
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  #2  
Old 09-30-03, 09:15 AM
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Thumbs up My $.02 worth

You are never to old to learn a trade and make a living at it. You have to have the drive and ambition. I am a back yard mechanic but when the job is to big for me or to time consuming (I need the car for work on Monday) I turn the job over to my family mechanic. He has been at the same place for 30 years at least. My father-in-law referred me to him way back when. He has to be in his mid 60s and still on top of his game. It is up to WHAT YOU WANT OUT OF LIFE that will determine how long your in the game.

Doug
 
  #3  
Old 09-30-03, 09:17 AM
Joe_F
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Jab:

As long as you want to be.

My grandfather is 92 and while he's "retired", he still cuts my hair and has customers coming over his house for him to cut their hair in his basement. I set him up with some equipment down there so he's ready to go.
 
  #4  
Old 09-30-03, 09:19 AM
darrell McCoy
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You are not to old to start. You can work as long as your body will let you AND as long as you can continue to grasp all the changes in this modern automotive world.
 
  #5  
Old 09-30-03, 10:24 AM
Joe_F
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AND you have the right attitude AND you enjoy what you do .

This was always my grandfather's case and that's why he was around in business as long as he was.

Just ask my mom...she couldn't get married on a Saturday in 1965 because my grandfather didn't want to close his shop for the day. LOL!
 
  #6  
Old 10-01-03, 06:53 AM
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well i am 42, been in this since i was 19 when i graduated from a 2 year tech school. It is hard work, working conditions are not great, customers are usually not thrilled to see u,and management is usually somebody's in-law.
But, the pay is great, and getting better, you can find work anywhere, the day goes by very quickly, and you usually learn something new everyday. plus your body stays flexible.
overall i am happy with my choice, but envision possibly trying something else before i run out of gas....
oh yeah, i forgot to add, get a job at a dealer and focus on one product. there is way too much to know to be an independant, and the work u produce will be much more precise..
 

Last edited by bigguy05641; 10-01-03 at 07:12 AM.
  #7  
Old 10-01-03, 07:25 AM
Joe_F
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That is good advice from BG, interesting.

I would say on staying with one thing, "it depends". I would probably get bored seeing W body Luminas every day changing 3.1 intake gaskets for instance. LOL.

If you work on a shop that takes anything, you are more well rounded and hence, more marketable. Say you were a Hyundai tech in 1986 when they first came to the US. Well by, 1995 or so, you might find yourself knocking on doors for a job because by then, Hyundai virtually pulled out of the US market and had a bad rap, so dealers were taking a beating.

It's also fun to work on everything. You never know what cool stuff you'll get to work on .

If you are independent and can fix anything, you are more marketable in the long run. Same as a person who has computer skills, management skills, work skills, etc, over a guy who has only one thing.

My .02
 
  #8  
Old 10-01-03, 07:44 AM
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HMMM, I WONDER IF THE GUYS(INDEPENDANTS) WHO KEEP OUR SHOP PHONE RINGING OFF THE WALL BEGGING FOR INFORMATION GET BORED DOING THAT......
I WOULD PREFER TO BE WHERE THE RESOURCES ARE AT MY DISPOSAL......
AS FOR THE BULL WORK DOING INTAKES, WE GOT GUYS TO DO THAT....
 
  #9  
Old 10-01-03, 07:50 AM
Joe_F
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BG:

Obviously those independent guys aren't too good. Better shops out there rival dealers for service. I know a few that would put most dealers to shame.

There's a Bosch service center up the road here from where I work. I have to think they rival the BMW dealer for service, for instance, after all, Bosch did design half the components for those cars. LOL
 
  #10  
Old 10-01-03, 09:02 AM
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WELL I HAVE NEVER SEEN A BOSCH SERVICE CENTER, BUT IT DOESN'T SOUND LIKE A TRUE INDEPENDANT. KINDA LIKE A GOODWRENCH SERVICE CENTER THAT GM WAS PUSHING A FEW YEARS AGO.
ULTIMATELY IT IS AN INDIVIDUALIZED EFFORT MORE THAN ANYTHING. I AM NOT SAYING THERE COULDN'T BE A GOOD INDEPENDANT. BUT WHEN A CUSTOMER GOES TO ANY REPAIR SHOP, DEALER OR OTHERWISE, WHETHER THEY HAVE A GOOD EXPERIENCE OR NOT IS UP TO THE INDIVIDUAL WORKING ON THEIR VEHICLE.
AT A DEALER, TECHNICIANS HAVE THE LUXURY OF DEVELOPING A FEEL FOR THE VEHICLES THEY ARE WORKING ON. THEY KNOW HOW THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO FEEL WHEN THEY ARE OPERATING PROPERLY. IF YOU ARE SPREAD THIN AND WORKING ON ANYTHING THAT COMES THROUGH THE DOOR, I WOULD SAY THIS WOULD NOT BE THE CASE. NOW THERE MAY BE SPECIALTY SHOPS, WHERE THEY ONLY WORK ON SAABS OR WHATEVER, BUT THEY WILL BE LAGGING BEHIND THE CUTTING EDGE OF TECHNOLOGY.
 
  #11  
Old 10-01-03, 09:17 AM
olskool
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Jabari,

I have Two Uncles who have been working on cars for at least 35 years. They also teach at an automotive trade school. They say if you have been in this business for over 20 years you are very much on the decline towards speed working against that flat rate system. And after 10 years you will have some sign of arthritis & Backaches from gripping the tools and all of the bending down and over you have to do. They also made a lot of money. But one cannot bend down good because of slipped disc in his back. And the other has a severe Arthritis problem. At 29 that means in twenty years you will be 49. Ask your instructors for the truth not just a line for the school to just keep getting your money. I guess everyone's body is different and how you take care of yourself is real important.
 
  #12  
Old 10-01-03, 09:23 AM
Joe_F
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Very true. It is important to take care of yourself and not overwork. You make mistakes when you are tired and can very easily get hurt or make a mistake if you are not 100%.
 
  #13  
Old 10-01-03, 11:52 AM
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WELL I WASN'T GOING TO GO THERE BUT SINCE SOMEBODY ELSE DID......
IF I KNEW ABOUT THE FLAT RATE SYSTEM WHEN I GOT INTO THIS, I NEVER WOULD HAVE.....

FLAT RATE REWARDS GLUTTONY.....PERIOD.
IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN HARD TO SOLVE PROBLEMS AND/OR PRODUCING QUALITY WORK....FLAT RATE IS NOT FOR YOU.
IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN REPEATATIVE WORK(THE WORK THAT PAYS WELL) THEN FLAT RATE IS FOR YOU..
 
  #14  
Old 10-01-03, 12:12 PM
Joe_F
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True again. Depends on your motive/outlook.

I'd get bored changing seatbelts under warranty every day. I also wouldn't learn much working in an all GM place. Everyone knows Fords bring the shops the money with their multiple breakdowns. LOL.

I think it's fun to see it all, from classics to heaps to everything in between. If it's a Chevy and you only do GM, you're working on it.

If it's a Peugeot or something weird and you're independent you can say "Nah, don't work on those" if you know it's a headache. LOL.

I love cars and fixing things, but I couldn't do it as a profession. I did the next best thing---I work for an automotive company in an office. Still see the meat and bones (products) and have the office enviornment.

Works for me (at least for now), because I use my education, auto knowledge and brain all together.
 
  #15  
Old 10-01-03, 06:28 PM
mike from nj
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'big guy' hit the nail on the head, get specialized and get your foot in the door of a dealer, if you're smart(sharp)you'll do well, dealer's are absolutely starving for 'quality' workers, and the pay rates show it, as do the job offers and sign-on bonuses i've seen.

the only things that hurt on me are the stupid things i've done myself---not work related, (and i could definitely loose a few pounds too)

in the last three years, we've had two people retire at 62-65 and they were life long technicians, they still had all their fingers and toes too, not much upstairs though, but i think that was unrelated to work too.

look forward to-----no car payments, never paying anyone to fix your car, knowing it's fixed right, being able to sometimes fix it on the side of the road, coming home and knowing you helped someone by fixing their car in work, leaving work there(at work), fixing neighbors, friends and family's cars for cash, the use of a lift at will(sometimes) discounted parts, being able to work in any city in any state, all the literature you could ever read, factory help with weird problems, a factory warranty to cover you're butt(sometimes)....there's more too

watch for----initial tool purchase($$$), management who doesn't care about you, less than favorable working conditions, cuts and scrapes, looked down upon, working with chemicals, unhappy customers....more here as well

in 15 years, i went from sweeping floors and emptying garbage to being in the top of the industry right now.

i often feel burn't out, but i know i can do this for a while longer. if i ever change my profession, this is one thing to easily fall back on. it's really what you want to make out of it, you just need to commit to it, it will eventually pay off in the long run(i hope)


welcome to the blue-collar world, decent (sometimes hard) work and a decent pay check
 
  #16  
Old 10-01-03, 07:04 PM
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I would advise a computer career but if you are hell bent on automotive,learn trannys they pay.Most dealer techs do not have the scrotum to do them.They think they are hard,if you are smarter than average trannys are gravy,lots of parts just need to know how to take them apart and put them back together.Around here, Pittsburgh Pa the tranny man and the electrical/engine diagnostic man makes the cash,which is me, makes the most cash.Computer office guys make more and work less and in heat/ac depending on the season.If you like cars work on them if you like money find it elsewhere.You will not start at the top of the ladder in automotive,regardless of your class scores,you will be one step above lot attendent.I could say more but if you want pm me I'll fill you in.If you ASEP 15 years.LOL.You can work untill you die.
 
  #17  
Old 10-01-03, 07:10 PM
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I'm sorry the automotive industry doesn't pay what they tell you in the school/brochures,but it's coming I'm fighting for it.
 
  #18  
Old 10-01-03, 07:21 PM
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Forgot the lifespan question 10 minutes for a smart man,then he would get the hell outa there
 
  #19  
Old 10-01-03, 07:56 PM
mike from nj
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davo- i agree and disagree for different reasons.

i came this close to switching to a computer networking career last year.

my friend in that business went from bragging about his bmw and paychecks to looking for a job, and still looking. as did a few other people i know. the computer field pays a lot more, but you never know if the door will be open when you get there each day, downsizing.

there will always be broken cars to fix


that's how i see it
 
  #20  
Old 10-02-03, 03:59 AM
Joe_F
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It's amazing to read about other's experiences. Each of us is varied.

In my firm, you would think it's all staffed by automotive nuts, but the fact is there are plenty of folks from top to bottom that don't even DRIVE a car much less know about them. LOL. Which is good for the rest of us who DO know as we are revered in some fashion.

Go with what your heart says is right---the money will follow you if you are good. There are niches in all things. The problem is with computers is that everyone believes they are going to be BMW rich and smoking fat cigars like Mike has alluded to.

I think I'll always have some connection to automotive in my career, not sure how. I agree with Mike on reference material. Since I am the company librarian, I get to maintain all the cool parts books going back to the beginning of automotive.

Sometimes it's cool to whip out a 1966 Chrysler parts book and look at the illustrations and how they compiled the book. It's also neat to have the same information the dealers and parts stores have because the look on their face is priceless when you show them the print out with the prices and part #s on it. LOL.

I will agree that once you're in the trade and start fixing, it doesn't stop. Shoot, we have never had to call an appliance man to come here to fix appliances. If it breaks, I use my automotive knowledge to guide me in repairs and finding parts. You also have the support of this forum too.

As I said, go with what your heart tells you is right, the rest falls into place.
 
  #21  
Old 10-02-03, 11:43 AM
JRRR.
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Another perspective

A little background on myself. I was born into the automotive industry. My father had a repair shop here in NY for 30 years. I grew up at the shop-was always a shop rat. Took apart junk cars, pumped gas, etc from a small boy. By the time I graduated high school I was taking care of the shop when dad was on vacation. By 22 I was lead technician and running the day to day operations of the shop. At 25 I was teaching Ford computer systems on the side for Allen test products. At 28 I split with dad. I looked into the GM SWAT technician problem and decided it was too much travel. Looked into teaching the NY state auto programs and the money versus time involved issue was a factor. I have been working on an automotive technical hotline that services automotive technicians in the 50 states, Canada, and the Bahamas for the last 7 years. We service techs in shops/dealerships that run into problems fixing their customers cars. The bulk of my calls are emissions, electrical, and driveability concerns. But we do bumper to bumper. We deal in real world fixes, vehicle strategies, and testing .We also write technical tips for our customers. I am one of approximately 100 people nationwide that do this for a living. My job is considered the pinnacle of automotive repair. I service all makes/models with the exception of European cars. I would not pay to talk to me about European cars so why should my customers.

The thud you are hearing is me getting off my soapbox...

Now how did I get here? Lots of sacrifices. I would work a 10-12 hour day at the shop then go to whatever clinic, seminar, or schooling I could get my hands on at night. Most of the time I was the youngest guy in all the classes. On nights I didnt go to school I would take car systems apart to really learn what makes them tick. If I ground/open this signal here what happens to emissions now sort of scenario. There were plenty of times I would screw up and have to buy replacement components for cars that didn't have problems. Also known as letting the magic smoke out. When my friends were chasing women and going to the bars. I was learning about hydrocarbons, pressure relationships, and oxygen sensors. It got to the point where most of the cars in my lot were either from other shops or had been to multiple shops to fix problems. There was lots of midnight oil burnt.
Right now there is a 60,000 manpower shortage of qualified automotive technicians. This is second only to the healthcare industry. The opportunities in the industry are enormous. But there are some downsides.

When I first came into the business the older techs would tell me-"Kid when you are older you will be wearing a white lab coat and making 100K" Well here I am no white lab coat and no 100k. Although I do have a blue lab coat. LOL.

As far as longevity- I am 35 years old and I need a knee operation. My doctor says all he does is mechanics/techs and athletes. Must have been all them kingpin jobs I did in 6" snow.
My hands still hurt-even though I only work one day a week on Saturdays at my buddies shop-to keep my "hands". I have over 95,000 dollars in hand tools that I have amassed over the years. That would have been a nice down payment on my house. No longer can you be the high school dropout and be a successful tech. I never though I would use algebra-I use it on a daily basis now. The technical knowledge needed is not high school it is graduate school. You will never get the respect you deserve in this industry. You can have patches (ASE, FAQT, NY) running around your body and you will always be a "grease monkey".
I go to work everyday in a climate controlled office in a shirt and tie. But I never forget what got me here.
The pros have already been listed. I will add one more it is a honest living that you can look at yourself in the mirror everyday.
Its never too late to learn.
 
  #22  
Old 10-02-03, 12:33 PM
Joe_F
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Thumbs up

Great story! By chance, who do you work for if I could ask?
 
  #23  
Old 10-02-03, 12:41 PM
JRRR.
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C'mon Joe. I will give you a hint. We are in Queens. We are the largest automotive aftermarket ignition manufacturer, we just acquired a competitor, and just recieved ISO9999 certification to make oe parts for manufacturers.
 
  #24  
Old 10-02-03, 12:46 PM
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WOW!
 
  #25  
Old 10-02-03, 01:22 PM
Joe_F
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Yup, know who it is.....
 
  #26  
Old 10-02-03, 01:35 PM
JRRR.
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Joe I thought you might...

I must say overall you and the other moderators/members do an excellent job on this forum. A little too much Ford and Japanese bashing though.

Hey bigguy how is the dealership gig in VT. Are they making you work 3 day workweeks? Cutting your guarantee? Vermont-you should be fixing Subaru's and Saab's.
 
  #27  
Old 10-02-03, 01:37 PM
Joe_F
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We each have our opinions tempered by our experiences and such . LOL.

Ya have to wonder why GM is still the world's largest car maker out there .

Thanks for the compliments---it's always good to see professionals and regular posters come here, it makes this board what it is. You'll find lots of good folks here.
 
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