Techs Are In Demand But Education is Demanded

Brought to you by AASA
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2010 there were 723,400 automotive service technicians and mechanics in the United States. By 2020, the bureau projects that number will automotive techniciansneed to increase by nearly 125,000 to meet demand.  At the same time the demand for these services is growing, so are the skills required to do the jobs.

A high school diploma used to be enough to get a job as a mechanic,   especially if you had vocational training in high school. Today’s automotive technicians, however, need advanced technical training. Cars today are complex.  Master mechanics commonly face problems that would have required an engineering degree a few years ago. New powertrain technologies, hybrids, infotainment systems, electric powered vehicles and advanced engine design are just a few of the issues today’s technicians face everyday.   In fact, the average ASE certified technician has the equivalent of two years of an advanced engineering education.

Technicians also need to have good math skills.  Everyday they must apply logic to their work. Using computers and advanced diagnostic tools is only part of the process. Good technicians use their experience and problem-solving thought processes to analyze problems. Advanced diagnostic tools are as important as a wrench in fixing a repair issue.  These tools can only tell what the read-outs from the vehicle’s internal processors indicate, however.  Analyzing the problem to determine the right solution is a skill that takes training and experience.

The need for better trained technicians is occurring at the same time many high schools are cutting back on vocational programs primarily because of budget constraints.  Another reason is lack of interest by students.   In general, with the rise of social media as a primary means of socializing, interest in cars by young people has waned.  In fact,  a recent University of Michigan study reported that in 1980, 87 percent of 19-year-olds had a driver’s license. By 2010, only 70 percent had one.  This is a shame because for many of these students, a career as an auto technician can provide a solid and steady middle class income. Automotive technicians have an unemployment rate less then half of that of the general public.  This profession is predicted to be one of the fastest growing over the next 10 years.  Another advantage:  automotive repair work cannot be out sourced over seas.

Technical schools and community colleges are creating programs to fill the education gap and there is a real need for these programs.  For many young people, the training as an automotive technician can lead to a good middle class life.  The opportunities will be there in the future.  Will there be enough young techs to fill the need?

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