Demand is high – and growing – for auto technicians

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Like so many other skilled trades fields these days, automotive technicians are in high demand -- and there's a talent gap between jobs posted and available workers to fill them.
In Southeast Michigan, employers such as car dealerships and body shops have posted 777 open jobs in the first six months of this year, and this time last year were seeking more than 1,200 mechanics and technicians. That's according to data tracked by the Detroit-based Workforce Intelligence Network.
As is the case with industrial jobs like machining and welding, for at least a generation, parents have discouraged their children from entering the auto service world, pushing them toward white-collar jobs even though many technical degrees yield better salaries than many college degrees, said Tony Molla, vice president of communications for the Leesburg, Va.-based National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, which certifies technicians.

Demand will grow in the future; about half of all technicians will be eligible to retire within 15 years.

"If there is such a thing as job security, it's in the trades," said Molla, also noting that garages compete for mechanics not just with each other, but also the aerospace industry.

The mean annual salary for automotive technicians, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, is about $39,000, and Molla said that's on the low side compared to industry numbers he's seen.

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