Automotive repair industry and technical schools

01-17-2010, 01:09 AM
Hi everyone
This is a long post, but its well worth your time if you're thinking about getting into the auto repair industry. Maybe the point of view from someone on the inside can be beneficial to people.

I'm not here to argue over the internet with anyone. Just wanted to share my, my friends and coworkers experiences with everyone, especially with young people finishing high school and college who are looking into going to these TECH schools to become automotive technicians.
You all may have seen them on TV and magazines. Now these places don't like to lose business. It's possible people from these places are going to come on here to dispute what I have to say and insist how great it is to go to their training facilities and how this is a hot and booming field/career with large income potential. They may even come on here and act like regular people and say things like, oh I'm making a lot of money, things are great, I don't know what you're talking about, maybe you should try a different shop etc.
You are all free to judge for yourselves, but don't say you were not warned if you enter the field and end up regretting it.

Basically don't waste your youth, time, and what is it nowadays, around $30000 in tuition to go to these tech schools and enter the workforce as a service technician.
From what I've seen and hear from recent students, the quality of the training in some of these places is getting worse and has completely gone down the tubes in some, many schools are running 3 shifts of classes to push through as many kids as they can, the lab times are reduced and many of the test cars/ equipment are too worn and damaged to be reused for training.

When I attended one of these places over 10 yrs ago, the car business was doing good. I used to love cars and enjoyed working on them. There was a focus on quality of work, and the pay was decent. Sadly all this and more has changed. Business has gone down dramatically as you all know. We went from 16 million cars sold a year to 10 million in the states, about a 40% decrease. Manufactures and dealerships basically don't want to pay the technicians. I'll tell you about the dealers first. Dealers keep increasing their effective labor rates, but the technicians rarely see a pay increase. For example over the last 10 years the labor rate at dealer has gone from $99 to $165, while during the same time the technicians pay has gone from $22 to $30. This is roughly a 66% increase for the dealer compared to a 36% increase for the technician. Some places might be more or less, but not by much.

Now for the manufacturers. Much of the blame is to be placed on the manufacturers. Most technician pay comes from warranty repairs, and the manufacturer pays the dealer who in turn pay you for warranty repairs. Over the years manufacturers decrease the labor units on repairs. They have never increased it, they always seem to reduce it. Many times you have to get authorization from the technical department at the manufacturer to replace a part and perform a repair. This is a problem when getting just the authorization takes longer than the whole repair pays. In many cases even if itís a common repair you and them already know the cause and what it takes to fix it. They still make you do extra test, take pictures, and jump through a bunch of hoops before they ok the repair. This is because they want you to do the research and development for their engineers at your cost and on your time. They aren't going to pay you any extra for it. You want to get the car fixed and out the shop so you have to play along. Some techs have to struggle and work 12hr days just to make 6-8 hrs of pay. You will find 1-2 guys at dealers who are making good money, these are they guys who have been there for over 20 years or so and get the small amount of good work that comes in. At my dealer, my friends dealers and local auto centers with various brands like Audi, BMW, Ford, Honda, Jaguar, Lexus, Mercedes Benz, Mini, Nissan, Porsche, Toyota, Volkswagen, & Volvo etc..) those who were not laid off say several skilled technicians have quit to go into other fields, and many are going to school so they can get out soon.

This business as a whole is getting worse everyday for technicians. Here are some hints, manufacturers like Mercedes Benz, Jaguar, Audi, and VW seem to have pulled out of the manufacturer programs at these tech schools as they don't have a need for new tech, others will follow, this is the start. I'm not offering investment advise here, but if I had investments and stock in these companies including the schools I would consider selling them. Even with all their cost cutting tactics, much lower sales equal lower profits which mean lower earnings and stock values.

I'm still young and can do other things and getting out soon, as this is not a path for prosperity and success anymore.

Good luck to everyone.

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