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How to Earn the Highest Salary as an Automotive Technician

Updated on March 24, 2016
eddiecarrara profile image

33 years in the automotive business, Honda, ASE certified master technician. Willing to spill my guts about everything I have learned.

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You're a mechanic. You have been working on cars and trucks for a few years and you just don't seem to be making any more money than last year. You ask yourself, "How can a higher salary?" Let's take a closer look at some facts.

Statistics show that the average automotive technician earns a salary between $23,000 - $61,000 annually in the year 2016. I was shocked to see the numbers so low, I couldn't help but wonder if someone had made a mistake.

I know that an aggressive automotive technician buys tools on a weekly basis, spending anywhere from $5,000 - $10,000 a year just on those, not including the boots, gloves, laundry detergent . . . you get what I'm saying. If they're only making $23k, it doesn't leave much for groceries and rent.

I can teach you the principles of being the best auto tech, and also teach you how to earn the highest salary as an automotive technician, but that doesn't mean you will.

To earn more than you ever did before, you need to become someone you never were before. I'm going to quote some of my mentors in this article because these are people who have embedded in me the philosophies and core values you need to have deep inside of you to be a better you.

Did you ever notice some tech's get all the good work and you struggle to make ends meet? Did you ever stop to think how they get all that work?

Some will say they're cherry pickers, or they're the gravy master, or maybe they're just up selling unnecessary work. That last statement might be true, but the fact of the matter is you can make just as much money as them, if not extremely better, without stealing or being dishonest.

In fact, it's just the opposite. If you become totally honest and transparent when working on your customers' cars, you can make a killing.

Step 1: Build Relationships

and get business cards!

Build relationships with as many customers as you can. Every car you work on, every car you touch, even if you're just in the parking lot and a customer asks you a question, take the time to answer it and show them you care.

Before you walk away, ask if there is anything else you can do for them, but be genuine. If you're not genuine, the customer will see right through you. If you have a business card, hand them one and tell them to ask for you if they have any more questions.

If you don't have business cards, I recommend getting some so you can start building your relationships. If you just help a customer with one little question, and spend just 5 or 10 minutes with them, you will have a return customer asking for you by name.

Each time you work on a customer's car, place a business card on the dash where they can see it and be sure the card says, "I appreciate your business." It takes guts to use business cards because you're basically telling the customer to ask for you next visit, if they like your work.

Step 2: Get to Work on Time

Show up for work every day on-time. A valuable employee is one who is on time and ready for work. Eat breakfast before you go to work, not when you get there.

Most shops have customers waiting for the doors to open in the morning so they can get to work on time themselves. If you're still drinking your coffee and eating your breakfast sandwich or doughnut, you're not going to be very productive and your boss will notice.

When the doors open, be ready to start working, not sipping and munching. Your boss will also notice who is hustling and who is dragging.

Note: hustlers make money, draggers whine and complain they're not making any money. Just thought I would mention that.

Step 3: Mind Your Own Business

Mind your own business! Too many employees are worried about what everyone else is doing, or how much money the other guy is making. Forget it! It really doesn't affect you, except for the fact that you're wasting your own time trying to figure it all out.

Time is money, and if you're standing around the bubbler whining and complaining to the other technicians about how one or two other guys are making all the money, stop yourself for just one moment and take a close look at where those money making technicians are. They're probably under the hood or dash of a car working and hustling, making cash!

It's very easy to sabotage your workday: all you have to do is get together with the whiners and complainers, then make a breakfast run, followed up with a nice extended lunch, and then a run for coffee at about 2pm, if it's a hot day maybe shoot the breeze some more at the ice cream truck . . . I could go on and on.

Avoid these people like the plague, they really are toxic and it will rub off on you quickly. You'll walk around with the same bad attitude that no boss likes to have in their shop. Keep your distance from toxic people if you want to make more cash.

Step 4: Brand Yourself

Brand yourself. What I mean is if you're going to start building relationships with your customers, you really need to stay put for a while. Find an automotive brand you like to work on and stick with it.

Working at a dealer vs. working for an independent is like night and day. I'm not saying that working for an independent is bad, but in my opinion there are more benefits to working for dealership. Just for starters, they have more money to advertise which in itself, generates more customers.

If you stick with one brand of vehicles, you become familiar with the problems that brand has, and the repairs are repetitive. You keep doing the same job over and over again, you get faster at the repair and more efficient, which in turn makes you more cash. Cash is good.

Even the large jobs, like transmission removal and cylinder head jobs start to get familiar. You will continue to be more efficient, you will start to recognize the tools for each job and have them ready before you bring your car into the bay.

Imagine putting a puzzle together 50 times, the first time you put the puzzle together it might take you 40 hours, but if you put it together 50 times, you would be very efficient and could probably cut your time in half.

In retrospect, you would be making twice as much money per hour. I like the sound of that. More cash!

Step 5: Stoke the Stove

Stoke the stove and add wood for heat. You wouldn't sit in front of your wood stove, and say to it, "Give me heat and then I will give you wood." You would be considered insane. So you can't expect to make a lot of cash (heat) without working (adding wood).

The more wood you add, the more heat you generate. So here's my point: Go find wood to put on the fire. If you're standing around waiting for a part to show up, go find another job to do while you're waiting.

If you don't have an extra lift to work on, find a job that doesn't need a lift, or take a car that needs a road test for diagnosis. At least you can get started on it while you wait for your part, and you're not wasting your time, remember . . . time is cash!

The worst thing you could do when waiting for your parts is to go talk to the tech's that are whiners and complainers. If those tech's look over at you while you're working on two cars at the same time, you're going to be one of the people they talk about. You have now officially become a gravy master or a cherry picker, so be prepared for the fit to hit the shan, get my drift?

Step 6: Notice Everything

Two of the most useful tools you have are not in your toolbox. The two most useful tools are your eyes and your pen. If you bring a car in your bay for a simple oil change and you don't even look over the safety items on the car, you're leaving cash on the table.

When a car comes into your bay for any reason, take five minutes to look over the car. At least check the safety items like tires, brakes, exhaust, and suspension parts for worn or damaged parts. Consider it a courtesy on your part. It's a chance for you to make extra cash and be a hero if you happen to spot a dangerous problem.

Automotive technicians seem to overlook the importance of even tire wear. Up-selling a 4-wheel alignment or balancing 4 tires is a pretty easy up sell if you have uneven wear on the tires. Just be sure to ask the customer if they have had any work done on the car recently or check the customer's history in the shop's computer if they are a regular customer.

Checking the customer's history is a another opportunity to up sell periodic maintenance services. If a car has 75k miles on it and it never had a major service done like a 30k or 60k mile service, check the car over for the items listed on those services. If it needs service, up sell it.

Some service advisors are nervous to up sell work to a customer because they feel they are taking advantage of the customer or ripping them off. If the car needs work, present it to the customer in order of priority and let them make the decision whether or not they want to do the work or hold off, but lay the card out on the table for the customer to decide.

The only way to get the sale is to ask. Once I had to skip over the service advisor because he refused to up sell to a customer. I went straight to the customer who was in the waiting area and come to find out, the customer was taking a long trip in a few weeks and was very happy I found these problems before she left the state.

Could you imagine how upset the customer would have been if she broke down once she started her trip, knowing that she had just brought her car in for service? We would have looked like we didn't know what we're doing. I was a hero that day, and I made cash the honest way.

Recap

  • Build relationships with your customers by showing them you care and you want to help them. Be genuine and give them your undivided attention.
  • Have business cards made up. Ask your boss if he will buy them for you or at least pay for half, since you are advertising for him.
  • Be a valuable employee. Show up every day on time and be ready to work. No boss likes to see his workers show up late, dragging and unorganized.
  • Put on your blinders. Mind your own business and avoid the toxic people near the bubbler who are whining and crying about how much money they're not making.
  • Brand yourself. Grow deep roots at your shop. Get to know your cars and customers. You should be able to breeze through jobs like you're on auto pilot.
  • Look for work when you're at a standstill. If you have to be at work, you might as well work. If you're waiting for parts, start something else. Don't go get coffee. That will cost you cash.
  • Use the tools that make you the most money: your eyes and your pen. Don't overlook potential up sells, especially safety items. When writing out your estimates for parts and labor, be sure to add the smallest details like o-rings and gaskets. All those small parts can add up, and if they're not in stock it could cost you time (cash) plus you will seem incompetent to the customer.
  • Ask for the sale. You will never sell anything if you don't ask for the sale. Sometimes you have to make a judgment call and go over the advisor's head and straight to the boss: the customer. You don't know what their plans are for future car trips. It's possible you could be saving them some time and money because you were proactive.
  • Making the transformation could take years, but if you love what you do and you plan to make a career out of it, learn all you can about your brand. Become an ASE Certified Master Technician, and stay on top of current service bulletins and service news for your brand. When you're a master technician, other techs respect you and come to you for help. Just having those certifications makes it possible for you to become the most respected automotive technician in your shop with the highest salary.
  • Start building solid relationships with your customers and they will come back to you for years. The days when work is slow and there is not much work coming through the shop, one of your customers will show up and ask for you to work on their car. This is where the magic is, and the cash.

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  • eddiecarrara profile image
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    Eddie Carrara 20 months ago from New Hampshire

    Hi Georgeario,

    I don't think there are any tricks going on in the industry, I think people make bad choices during the journey in life and somehow take the wrong career path. Auto Mechanics is not an easy trade and we are constantly learning new technologies, the technicians of today are not the same as the mechanics of yesterday.

    The money you would spend on tools is not even close to the money spent on an education for becoming a doctor or lawyer. Even if you were going into the landscape business, look at the money you would spend on a dump truck, zero turn mowers, compactors, tractors, weed whackers, blowers, etc...

    Picking the right career path is not easy, and no matter what path you take, you're going to spend money on the tools to make you great, whether it be a tool box, college degree, lawnmower, or a certification. If you like what you're doing, go full steam ahead and get the tools and work for the right company, you'll make a decent living with many options on the way.

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    georgeario dawson 20 months ago

    the problem is the industry is tricking hobbyist technicians into thinking its easy to work at a shop... on purpose.... because they know that they love cars so they will potentially put up with more nonsense ...they also know that they can pay them less because of their entusiasm and lack of experience... if someone wants to earn alot of money i dont know what to tell you because all techs are getting screwed over because of profits...and almost all customers are cheap and dont want to pay alot for repairs...and if you flip cars for profit people dont want to sell you their car for a low price..people dont also want to pay alot for a used car.. honestly there is no short answer to becoming financially successful at a shop... automotive work also follows you home and can make you crazy tyring to diagnose a problem after hours at the house.. its fun to fix cars and the satisfaction of accomplishing something is great but it becomes a burden when you are forced to find and fix a complicated problem or have to do some grunt work... i made decent money as a lube tech for nissan and about the same as a manager of a lube shop but never made good money as a general tech... its not worth it in my opinion..but here i am considering going back to it because i have the skills to do it..but the job prospects arent good..and the cost of tools!!!!!!!

  • eddiecarrara profile image
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    Eddie Carrara 20 months ago from New Hampshire

    Hey Paidinfull22, sounds like you just need to grow some roots. If you like doing electrical, focus on that career path because you're a very rare breed, most mechanics run from electrical.

    With your background it sounds like you have a lot of options, plus you can type, and you sound/look good on paper/screen, lol. Here are a few options to focus on;

    1. If you like getting your hands dirty, check out your local vehicle conversion shops, like for building handicap vehicles, it's very rewarding work and you're helping folks out with disabilities.

    2. Service advisor position, it's not bad money, but high stress.

    3. Have you thought about building your own YouTube channel? With your skills, you could make an awesome channel, plus make some money while making videos doing what you love :)

    4. Have you thought about building a website about your skills and talents? People search for information every day, and you may have the answers they are looking for.

    I have a website I started 2 years ago and I make pretty good money from it, I also make a few bucks here and at YouTube, I just share my knowledge with people and answer a ton of questions for them. My plan is to continue to build on all these platforms and retire on the income one day. I really didn't think it was possible until I started to see progress, now I know it just takes time, patients, and perseverance. I work on these every day for a few hours or whatever spare time I have.

    Let me know what you think, and if you have questions, I'll be right here :)

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    Paidinfull22 20 months ago

    Thank you for writing this article Eddie. I have been a member of the field for years but never as a technician. I have always loved cars and did the bike thing like you. I bought my first car at 15 from changing neighbors and friends oil and brakes, my dad thought me. I couldn't drive it (Legally) so I took the whole thing apart cleaned it (wish I knew a part washer then lol) and changed it from 4 speed to 5 speed. The next thing that caught my attention was sound systems. After I mastered installation of that i got a job at circuit city. In 2 years I was lead tech at another location. I would put a remote start in things that would some installers pale. When circuit city folded I went to a performance shop. There I learned the mystery of the wankel rotary, installed and tuned stand alone E.M.S, wired complete cars (both factory and custom). My favorite was our 8 second shop car at the time. While working at the shop I decided to focus on a automotive career. I attended U.T.I and graduated with a 3.8 gpa and many awards and achievements to go with it. That certificate got me some interesting gigs that although temporary ... I had to fulfill my curiosity lol. I assembled prototype combines for case-new holland. Can you say dream job!!!!! That's where I learned my first mistake. I should have chose Diesel in U.T.I . When that contract ended I went to another temp Job at a Coach Bus company. Another great job but temp. My electrical skills also helped me here. After that I went to Walmart tire lube. I made manager after two months (my co-workers elected me). Left there because my store manager was psycho. Got my state emissions and inspection license. Went to Midas on commission didn't like it. Today I am at Firestone. I like it so far. What brought me to your page is my work pace. I need to be faster and more productive. I already know I am not a hustler as you might say. I am way better suited for electrical issues, but I have built cars from shells in my parents driveway with nothing but basic tools(craftsman days) to a turbocharged monster. I just feel after all that I owe my roots a fair chance. I already have a 100% plan B if I cant be happy as a Tech(No love lost i will build monsters as long as God permits me to!!!!!!). But I have done all this and been poor as (censored). I am still poor as (censored). If I need to go to a dealership and be a specialist I will get an A.S.E. And do it. But today I flagged 3-4 hours in a 10 hour work day and and 1hour commute and well... you know. I love what I do and its not about the money I love helping the customers and bridging the gap of them understanding their cars. But to be honest I'm 30 and I don't wanna be, just making it anymore. Any advice in addition for my situation. What tools are most important to you? What do you think is fair pay ($15 flat rate current). I agree with everything you said and will do it starting tomorrow. All opinions were of my own and not of my past or current places of employment. Thanks again.

  • eddiecarrara profile image
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    Eddie Carrara 21 months ago from New Hampshire

    Hi Kmon,

    So there are other tech's like me after all :) I'm glad I have found someone who has the same work ethic and drive. When you know the product inside and out, you know what to look for, it saves you time and the customer money. I have always said, the tools that makes me the most money are not found in my tool box, they're found in my head, they're are called "EYES" open them and you'll make money. Thanks Kmon for taking the time to comment, I really appreciate it :)

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    Kmon 21 months ago

    I'm a Toyota tech, 130+ a year....I'm the guy who puts his head down and works on 8+ cars a day. You can be honest and use your pen to make ALOT of money! Working on the same brand means I know what to look for but I have to spend MY TIME to find it. That gives the appearance that I'm being feed. Guess what I dont care!!! Great article because I can relate to everything you said!

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    Ex dealer tech 2 years ago

    I agree there are people who like to work on vehicle, me being one of them which is why I will work a few days a month at my old dealer just to do diag and drivability as they need diag techs badly just like all dealers because like all dealers they can't find or keep diag techs because there are way too many other fields offering more pay and benefits for less harsh work.

    If you like working on cars that's great do it as a hobby. To be a professional auto tech all you do is spend time working on others nice cars while you yourself can never afford one because you are under paid and have constant re investment fees (tools, school, certainly).

    I'll just leave this here http://www.indeed.com/salary/Automotive-Technician...

    38% lower wages than other job postings and I will bet you most if not all of those higher paid postings do not require you to provide anything of your own.

    Again good article but it's misleading, the issues of the auto industry can not be fixed at a tech level and now there are more and more techs leaving so the ball is in their court to see what happens.

  • eddiecarrara profile image
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    Eddie Carrara 2 years ago from New Hampshire

    There are still a lot of people who enjoy working on vehicles, it is their passion, just like any career, and if you do what you love, and not chase the money, the money will come in time. There are money issues in all careers and placement is another problem. If you can find a good employer who treats you right, the sky is the limit, I'm not saying you become a billionaire, but you can make an decent honest living. Hope you find your passion ex dealer tech.

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    Nother ex dealer tech 2 years ago

    Good article but I have to agree with the other ex dealer tech. This industry is dead and not getting better only worse. Become too tech that the dealer relies on yea that's great now your just stuck doing all the hard jobs that don't pay. Want to make money then just cherry pick and brown nose like everyone else and get gravy but if you truly like doing diag and thinking now your bored out of your mind.

    Sorry if you want to be happy and get rewarded for effort and actually get paid to use that thing between your ears then don't waste time and effort in the certificates and classes that is just more time wasted going to a dead end job. Use that time to take classes for engineering, cad design, electronics or IT. All of which will be a better future.

    Left the industry this year and seen my wages and savings sky rocket with more pay and better benefits (and no tool bills). And it's not just one dealer there really isn't any greener grass at the next dealer you have to quit to get a raise no matter if your their top guy or there entry level so what kind of a job is that, where any time you should get a raise you have to literally find another job to use to bargain with first.

    It's time to stop bending to their system and tell people for what it is so they don't get these new kids going into this, it is starting to happen as they are running out of master techs and more and more are leaving and new hires have zero classes (because if your smart enough to take classes for this you've probably done some research and quickly re thought your career choice). So karma is a bitch and in about 3-5 years the dealers and manufactures will get theirs.

  • eddiecarrara profile image
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    Eddie Carrara 2 years ago from New Hampshire

    Hi Alex,

    You 'll need to shop around, just finishing a 2 year program is just the beginning and you won't make a lot of money right away, it's going to take some time and a lot of experience. The first thing you need to do is figure out if you want to be a general technician or if you want to be a specialist. Hint, specialists make more money, generalist have a well rounded education / understanding of a lot of makes and models. Take your time and figure it out as you finish your 2 year program.

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    alex Zuniga 2 years ago

    Hi my passion are cars I live in memphis am just starting I need advices and tips after I finish my 2 years program where should I start working to get the best payment?

  • eddiecarrara profile image
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    Eddie Carrara 2 years ago from New Hampshire

    Hi Cali Girl,

    The change will be slow, so I really wouldn't worry too much about the auto industry dividing. You'll need to know the basics about automotive as well, but if you take the extra courses in electrical diagnosis, you'll stand out from the crowd, plus once you take those extra classes, you'll find more opportunities within those classes to advance your knowledge even further. Hope this helps Cali Girl, and good luck on your journey. Let me know if I can help in any other way :)

  • profile image

    Cali girl 2 years ago

    hey. I saw that you mentioned getting into the electric diagnostic or Automotive electronics. How can I get into that side of a automotive career? All the schools I've researched are the typical automotive tech schools with a course or two on electronics or electrical accessories. But my thinking is in 10 years with electric cars and hybrid cars the automotive field will be divided

  • eddiecarrara profile image
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    Eddie Carrara 2 years ago from New Hampshire

    You're very welcome Giovanni,

    It sounds like you on your way to a very prosperous career. The negative stories and people trying to direct you to a new path are always going to be there, and it will be very difficult to stay on a straight course every day, so don't get discouraged if you have to keep correcting your course through life, we all need to readjust to get back on track :)

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    Giovanni19 2 years ago

    Thank you for the wise words and that is what i am going to do make my own path and throw lots of wood in to the fire so alotbof money comes out of it and thank you once again for the advice

  • eddiecarrara profile image
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    Eddie Carrara 2 years ago from New Hampshire

    Hi Giovanni,

    Mercedes would be a great place to start, especially if they will send you to school for more training. I would at least try the position for a year or two to see if you like the work, it's a lot different doing the work every day than it is to do it as a hobby. Your young enough to make a career change if you don't like it.

    Getting the education is not just a piece of paper, paper you can tare up and throw away, then it's gone for ever, education is something you have for life, and it can never be take away by anyone, you own it, it's your's for life. What you do with that education is up to you, either you can leverage the power of your knowledge and make lot's of money, or you can let it sit dormant and waste the 45k you spent on your education.

    Try not to listen to stories about what happened to other people, they are not you, and you may have a very different outlook on life, and situations in life, follow your dreams, make your own path in life. For every negative story you hear about someone getting screwed, there are ten positive stories you just haven't heard yet. Follow your dreams, and always look forward. Good luck on your journey Giovanni, and remember, getting an education is never a waste of time or money, it's only a waste if you don't use it :)

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    Giovanni19 2 years ago

    Hello eddie i loved your article man and i am a 17 year old and am thinking about pursuing the automotive career i have had a considerate amount of experience around cars like helping my dad drop transmissions and replace blown out motors and head gaskets etc. And i love the challenges it brings and the hard work to hear that nice purr of a car after you fix it my neighbor is a mercedes mechanic and said that when i am 18 and already graduated that he can get me in to mercedes benz and i can work for them and acquire experience and paid at the same time not much but something while i go to a community college to get a degree in automotive i was thinking about uti but it sounds ridiculous to pay $45,000 for paper that is a certificate that sais you have completed a course and that some dealerhips will not take (had this happen to my friends brother in law) i am thinking about going to mercedes when im 18 get money and experience while i go to school and get my degree and after having some experience go and try to find a bigger pay check at another mercedes dealership please tell me your opinion about this if im doing wrong or what i shall do instead thank you

  • eddiecarrara profile image
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    Eddie Carrara 2 years ago from New Hampshire

    I would recommend going into the electronics part of the automotive field, there are not a lot of tech's who like this kind of work, but this is where it's all headed. When and if you get really good at electrical diagnosis, you will have job security, plus, you will be a very valuable asset to the shop you work for and earn a very good income because your a specialist in a field where there is not a lot of competition. I don't recommend heavy duty at your age because of the stress you will put on your body. Hope this helps, and good luck on your next journey :)

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    Life is a game to be plaid right 2 years ago

    I spent most of my first years in business and doing different jobs and I alway liked cars and I am 38 now and considering a career in heavy duty mechanics or automotive, every bodies articles have been great insights in life as a mechanic. If one were to choose which field to go into at 38 years of age which one would it be??

  • eddiecarrara profile image
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    Eddie Carrara 3 years ago from New Hampshire

    Hey James,

    The young , up and coming techs just don't get it! Some do, but for the most part they think the shop owes them something and they don't have to work hard for the money, it's like they sit back and wait for the gravy. I put a lot of hard work into it and hustle, I also put a lot of wood on the fire, and I earned the heat, just like you. Thanks for the feedback James,and keep up the good work!

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    jamesv 3 years ago

    Your article is an example of what I embody as a Master Certified Technician on a daily basis. Bounced around when I was young, did the dealer thing which had its perks and its downfalls. Currently work for a very large retail auto repair center where I consistently average 150 percent efficiency plus overtime premium and decent benefits. Money is very good, upwards of 70k plus a year if you hustle, and I know techs that out flag me and make even more. The biz can be frustrating and grueling but you get out of it what you put in, no heat without wood in the fire.

  • eddiecarrara profile image
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    Eddie Carrara 3 years ago from New Hampshire

    Hey Eddie, I'm way over here on the East coast, lol. Have you looked into Universal Technical Institute of CA, I've worked with a few techs that went to the one on Boston Mass and they said it was a pretty good program.

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    eddieramirez 3 years ago

    thinking about going for auto courses.. any schools you recommend in central California?

  • eddiecarrara profile image
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    Eddie Carrara 3 years ago from New Hampshire

    Sure Mslifco, o problem. I would imagine there is a lot less stress working with a cnc machine then cars, here are a few: you never have to remove snow from the cnc machine, you will never have salt, sand and water dripping on you working on your cnc machine, if it braaks down , someone else will fix it, you'll never be stuffed under a dash killing your back, lol .

    With the new cnc machines, you could make real usable parts bor both projects you're working on, and it sounds like you're passionate about doing it. Good luck in your adventure Mslifco, and just remember, you can always change careers. Just because you have a job, doesn't mean you have to stop looking :)

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    Mslifco 3 years ago

    Thanks eddiecarrara, we get a lot of snow up here in michigan 8-10 inches coming down as I'm writing this. And I'm mostly looking for a job that I won't dread getting up and going to work everyday. From what your saying and the rest of the comments it sounds like being an automotive technician is pretty dreadful. I plan on buying an ar-15 in a couple days when I turn 18 for hunting with my friends, and I'm thinking of making an exact replica of each and every part on the cnc and assembling it for a woodworking competition. If I have enough time I was thinking of making a cut away engine block out of wood on the cnc that shows all the moving internals.

  • eddiecarrara profile image
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    Eddie Carrara 3 years ago from New Hampshire

    Hi Mslifeco, honestly I would go for the CNC training, as an automotive tech, it is very abusive to the human body, lol, it sounds funny, but most techs move on to a different career at about the age of 50. Also if you live in an area that has winter (snow), working on cars is a pain in the ass. CNC is the way to go, especially with the new 3d printers. If I were to do it over, I would go CNC, there is a lot of potential in that area, and yes, you can make a lot of cash :)

    Hope this helps point you in the right direction Mslifeco, you sounds like you know what to do already, so go for it, and keep your mechanics skills to a hobby :)

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    Mslifco 3 years ago

    Very informational article, thank you! I'm half way through my senior year right now and my woodshop teacher offered to teach/train me how to program and operate the 3-axis cnc machine we have at school, he said he taught a kid last year and he made 84000 his first year out of highschool. We'll he caught me attention when he told me this, but I'm left with the hard decision, I have to drop my auto tech class or drop my woodworking class. I know very little about the cnc but I always thought it was cool and I know that you can make good money if your good at it. But as of right now I'm at the top of my class in auto tech, light years ahead of the rest of the kids, I've been doing this stuff for as long as I can remember. I built my first dirt bike from the ground up when I was 14, my first motorcycle at 15, and I've done many various things to my 240sx at 16, she's gone now but I will always miss her. I can't decide on a career path, I don't want to make the wrong decision! After I saw the salaries of automotive technicians I was shocked, and it kinda scared me. But both my teachers tell me I have the skills to make 100k+ no matter what I choose, both are asking me stay in their class and I'm truly at my breaking point because I can't choose. I've went to the Chrysler dealership and the head technician confirmed that there is guys there making over 100k but he said if he could do it over again he would choose something else. I have until winter break is over, January 2nd to choose, I would like to leave this decision up to you and who ever else would like to comment or help me. Thank you!!!

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    Eddie Carrara 3 years ago from New Hampshire

    Hey Ex dealer tech, sorry you got burnt by the dealership you worked for, but this article was not about working for a dealership, it is about building relationships with your customers no matter where you work, it's about getting good at the shitty jobs no matter where you work, it's about becoming a valued employee no matter where you work. You don't work for a dealership or an independent, you work for your customers, because ultimately they are the ones who pay you, so building trust and relationships with them is the key to success, treating them with respect, honesty, and integrity is the way you gain a customer for life.

    Read the article again, and skip over the part where I wrote "the dealership has the money to spend on advertizing with plenty of work coming through the door" and see if it makes more of an impact. Your old Boss is an individual, they do not represent every dealership, nor does your new boss represent every independent garage.

    You shouldn't stereotype dealerships, because people are who they are, the way they decide to treat you, is their own decision, it's who they are as an individual, not the dealership as a whole.

    Good luck on your new journey, and may you build lots of relationships with your new customers.

    Eddie

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    Ex- Dealer Tech 3 years ago

    Hello,

    I officially left the dealership rat race April 2013 and couldn't be happier. While I appreciate what you have written and respect your write up and experience; I have to beg to differ...

    Here's my reasons.

    1. THE ABUNDANCE OF WORK ISNT THERE. You are writing this with the fantasy of the 1990's, where there was a stack of RO's and a line around the block. To anybody reading this: don't be fooled, you can't just "go get another car" to work on. There are many shops or dealerships where there will be 7 cars that come in for the day and the shop will have 10 hungry techs, and nothing for you to work on. BTDT...

    2. DISPATCHING. At most dealers, your money is heavily dictated by either a dispatcher, service writer or team leader. If you piss off a Dispatcher, you're on a "shit list" and will not get work or get time consuming poor paying warranty work. This is where politics, favoritism and the screwing lies within a flat rate dealership.

    3. LOW PAYING WARRANTY/NO DIAGNOSTIC TIME. There will be days where you come across problems are extremely intermittent, noises that are impossible to find/repair, electrical glitches for no reason, and not a single labor operation to help you. Manufactures are stingy with paying "diagnostic time". Very rarely will a manufacturer pay for the time it took you to find that wire that was broke. In the middle of a harness under the dash. So they "max out" on diag time. If it took you 3 hours to diagnose the problem, the manufacturer will only pay a maximum of 0.7 for diag and 0.2 for the repair. Not including the time it takes to novelize the repair order so the claim doesn't get kicked back. So for the 4 hours total it took to find the keys, find the car, multiple test drives, waiting on the parts guy, performing diagnostics, writing a novel on the repair order and finding the accurate related labor operations. Meanwhile, high paying "gravy work" goes down the line to the next guy. So you got 0.9 for 4 hours of work and how do they repay you for this? You get all the headaches because you fix the first one. Only in the automotive industry, especially in dealerships; THE MORE YOU KNOW, THE LESS YOU MAKE.

    3. THE PAY TIMES KEEP GETTING LOWER. Manufacturers are cutting labor times rapidly and dealerships are getting greedier by cutting customer pay work pay. I will say this and stand by it. THE DEALERSHIP CAN AFFORD TO PAY THEIR TECHS BY-THE-HOUR AND OVERTIME. But they won't because it's more lucrative to make techs hungrier and let them work for free and avoid overtime. Numbers don't lie, you can make more if your paid by-the-hour + overtime Vs. 100% flat rate. It's all about time spent. Spent 10 hours to make 7? Get paid $20/flat rate hour? Guess what you averaged $14/hour. If you're paid by the hour at $16/hour and get 2 hours of overtime, you just averaged $22/hour. The ups and downs of flat rate aren't worth the risk of security.

    4. CARS ARE TOO COMPLEX TO MAKE A LIVING ON FLAT RATE. We all know with High and low speed CAN bus networks, touch screen iPad like radios electronic controls etc, flat rate is obsolete and manufacturers are not stepping up to make sure techs are properly compensated for their efforts. With changes in technology, the pay plan should change. After all, flat rate is over 100 years old.

    5. DEALERSHIPS ARE NOT INTERESTED IN EXPERIENCED TECHS. Experience=money. If the dealer can avoid hiring a tech at $30/FRH for a "graduate" for $12/FRH and assign him to a team leader, guess what experience doesn't get you anywhere. Dealers are also stripping benefits, extending work weeks and hours, and not giving incentive for any kind of work ethic. Seen it time and time again. Who wants to work 6 days to make 30 hours while investing 60 hours? Nobody.

    I could go on and on, but I feel that your article; while having merit, seems like it was written by the dealer owner or a recruiter. In this day and age, it's highly inaccurate.

    MY ADVISE FOR YOUNG TALENT OR PEOPLE INTERESTED. DON'T WASTE YOUR TIME. There are other careers where you can use your skills and talent and be properly compensated. And it's not at a dealership. If you must pursue automotive, pursue a government fleet position. You'll get excellent benefits and pay. Nothing a dealer or even an independent can offer.

    DONT BE FOOLED.

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    Eddie Carrara 3 years ago from New Hampshire

    Hey Kazeem, it should be 150-200 psi, 1.5 -2.0 hp, 5.0 scfm. There is a link to a Dewalt compressor in the above article, it basicly the same as the Craftsman, and the price for that kind of compressor will range from $300- $400, it's worth it to spend a little extra upfront than to buy something that won't do the job. Let me know what you end up buying Kazeem, thanks.

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    Kazeem Raheem 3 years ago

    Eh! Thanks. Can you please tell me the specification to buy? I mean the Gallon, HP, PSI, SCFM. Like I said earlier, I want the one that can get all the work done without going to somebody else shop for help but with-in the price range I said. Thanks again

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    Eddie Carrara 3 years ago from New Hampshire

    Hi Kazeem, Get yourself a Craftsman upright oilless compressor, I suggest the upright because it takes up less room the the horizontal one, just make sure you use a 1/2'' or 3/8'' air line, not the 1/4'' it comes with, this is the one I use at home with a 3/8'' hose and it can do just about anything. Let me know how you make out Kazeem :) and happy shopping.

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    Kazeem Raheem 3 years ago

    Excellent Advice, Eddie!

    Question : Please i need your advice on Specification of Air Compressor to buy. I want one for my DIY garage and to cut some job from friends and families if the need arises. My budget is between $180 - $299 and I want the one which can handle the most rugged bolts and nuts (especially Axle nuts/Spindle nuts). Thanks and Stay blessed.

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    Eddie Carrara 3 years ago from New Hampshire

    Hi John,

    The quick answer is stay, and here is the reason I say stay. You found my page because you're looking to make more money, correct? Right now you are in a perfect position to make some extra cash in your free time with your skills, knowledge, and resources.

    You have an opportunity to make an extra $200 a month easily, but it takes time and patients, and if you want to make more, all you have to do is rinse and repeat.

    You're obviously good at writing, I'm sure you have a cell phone with camera, and you have access to a computer, the rest is a small learning curve, but you're a Mercedes Benz tech, you're smart, you're constantly learning new ideas and concepts anyways.

    I was in the same position as you in 2009, I didn't know what way to go, start a new career or stay, I felt like I was against a wall and didn't know what way to turn. Then I had a back injury and had to stop working on cars, and that really set me back on my plans.

    You see, I knew the internet was the future, but I didn't know what to do or how to profit from it. Now I have had some breakthroughs and started making a few extra bucks, I'm not rich (yet, lol) but every month I make a small increase to the bottom line.

    If you want, I can help you get started and give you a few ideas to work on, if you're not interested, that's fine too. I'm not trying to sell you any programs, tools or anything, I just want to show you what is possible with just the skills, knowledge and resources you already have.

    You can go to my profile page and email me, if you can't find how to email me on my profile page, come back here and leave me a comment and I'll figure it out. What ever you decide to do Johnn, good luck in your journey, take care for now.

    Eddie

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    Johnn Muri 3 years ago

    Great advise, everything you said is true. I've been in the industry for over 12 years and am a ASE certified master tech. I moved up quick fast because I did all the work nobody else wanted wen I started and the experience grew, soon all the veterans were asking my help. So I jumped around for more cash from shop to shop and my income increased. I got tired of working weekends and wanted to work on just one car. So I went to a Mercedes Benz dealer and had to start all over and it's so stressful the pay cut and respect are not there. The dealer life is night and day it gives me family time, but the money is just not there. it's a cut troat world, its everybody running to the finish line were th week get destroyed. I just keep to myself and work hard but in the corporate world nobody matters just the money makers in my experience. I feel like maybe it time to hang the belt sometime and do something else. The excitement is not there anymore but it's all I've ever done and it's hard to walk away when the bills are coming in and making a jump again starting somewhere new is discouraging. Would you go or stay?

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    Eddie Carrara 4 years ago from New Hampshire

    Hi Alex, I'm glad you liked the article, I just wanted to give a little advice for people like you who are just starting out in the field. I never grew up around mechanics either, but by the age of 8, I was fixing my own bikes and taking things apart with the tools that were available. (Dad's tools, lol) I believe if you like working on cars, you should become an expert on one brand, a brand that you like working on and one that you can be proud of. Working at an independent shop is great for the experience, but if you want to become an expert, pick a brand and learn it inside and out, get to know your customers and treat them right, even if it means losing a few bucks while educating them on their vehicle, you will be paid back tenfold in the long run.

    Good luck on your journey Alex, and one more thing. Learn as much as you can about the electronics of the vehicle and about the emissions, those two areas may not pay well hour wise, but your hourly wage will be much higher because very few mechanics are willing to spend the time learning those two areas, and you can become a specialist, which means more cash :) Take care Alex, and if you ever need any advice, I'll be right here.

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    alex 4 years ago

    Man this article makes so much sense. I'm currently in school about to graduate. I worked at an independent shop then I went to a dealer (Hyundai) and I've seen the hard workers and the complainers. I'm going back to the dealer and I'm going to do the very best I can. I know that there is no substitution for experience, but I felt I needed to get a good education so I could be more comfortable in this field. I have about 2 years of experience. I never grew up around people who worked on cars and never really got to work on them, but I always loved them. Anyways, thank you for the good advice and great article.

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    Eddie Carrara 4 years ago from New Hampshire

    Hey Paolocruz,

    Getting educated first can start your feet running before they hit the ground, but experience takes time, there's no such thing as an overnight success. Thanks for the comment, take care :)

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    Paolo Cross 4 years ago from Philippines

    I totally agree with you. Education is secondary when we talk about the work place. Experience can surely give you edge for making money.

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    Eddie Carrara 4 years ago from New Hampshire

    Hi Robert,

    I can't tell you if this is the right decision, BUT, you will be pursuing it properly, (going to school, getting the education) but you really have to look at it long term. When you become a technician, you never stop buying tools and your body is aging, I know that sounds kinda of weird. My point is, if your not in great physical shape, in ten years from now you could be look for a career change because your body can't handle it physically, and you could still have a large tool bill. lol.

    But if you really want to pursue this career, you could get a job at a dealership now changing oil and doing small jobs, that way you are gaining experience, not just education. I believe the education is important and gets your foot in the door, but having experience is what makes you money, that's true in any career.

    My advice to you is, because you're starting your career so late, you should specialize in electrical diagnosis. There is a huge demand for those types of technicians, and very few who are good at it. If you specialize in automotive electrical, your career in the automotive industry won't be so physical, plus the pay would be very good and you wouldn't be killing your body changing tires, and lifting transmissions.

    Let me know what you think about my idea Robert.

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    robert1980 4 years ago

    Nice information to know.I'm gonna be going to Ranken this year for Automotive Technology.I'm 32 and have basic personal auto experience but no professional job experience.My plan is to use all the resources at Ranken as I can ,to try and get on at a dealership cause just like you said and I know for the most part that's where the better money and overall benefits are.I guess my question is you think it's worth me doing this.I figure I'll be 34 by the time i'm done with school and get a job unless I get a job before school is over.I know that 34 is not that old but to be starting from the bottom.What's your opinion.

    Thanks Robert

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    Eddie Carrara 5 years ago from New Hampshire

    Hi Jason,

    There are a lot of mechanics out there struggling just like you, the techs that climb the ladder the fastest are the ones who go where the money is. I have worked with guys that jump $3 an hour just buy changing shops, then end up coming back to our shop at that same rate of pay. If you think you can make more money elsewhere, go apply for the job, and if the shop you're at now wants to keep you, they will offer you the same money, if not, take the other position. Good luck Jason, I hope you find what your looking for.

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    Jason p 5 years ago

    For 11 years I have worked as an example of how a tech should approach the auto field according to this article. No gossip, no waste of spare time, on time, rediculous overtime 12:00 am, no drive ability comebacks, highly impressed customers, extensive education degree, ase certs, smog license, but never seen more than 24 k yearly. This is a dead field for most, if there is under appreciation for quality, integrity, and knowledgable techs because of corporate greed paying a small fraction of what you make them, then there is no sense using credit cards just to pay for gas to get to work for less than subsistent wages!

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    Eddie Carrara 5 years ago from New Hampshire

    Hello Ruben,welcome to the automotive field! You could go to school for another 4 years and still struggle working in a shop. There is no substitute for experience, the other guy you talk of has experience because he worked in his dad's shop, and he most likely makes the shop you're working far more money than you do, but don't get discouraged, time is on your side.

    I would recommend learning all the techie stuff on car right now and let the other guys do the bull work, you will appreciate it in the long run. With all the technology in the vehicles of today, the technician is doing less maintenance and more and more software updates so stick with what you're good at and forget the rest. There is going to be a time where the auto shops are going to be split into two sections, the labor/ service side and the techie side, it's inevitable.

    Make yourself the most valuable technician in your shop, make yourself so valuable to your boss, that they can't afford to get rid of you even if they wanted to.

    One last thing, your real boss is the customer, if you take care of your customers they will follow you forever, even if you do end up moving to a new shop. Peoples like awesome service no matter what the service is. Ultimately the customer is paying you to work on their vehicle, you just rent the bay you work in, so go the extra mile with your customers and you won't have to do side jobs after work, it's good money but you will burn out fast.

    I found that if I stayed 1 hour extra at night and did a used car check or one more job, I would make more money than doing side jobs, I didn't have to run around for parts or drag my tools around with me, it was easier and more profitable. Just something to think about. Thanks for the comment and if you have any more questions, you know where to find me.

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    Ruben Alvarez 5 years ago

    Awesome article, I'm just getting started in my automotive career. While I graduated top of my class with all kind of awards and a 4.0 GPA, I have quickly noticed that don't mean squat in the field. All that stuff just got me hired. I work for a Kia Mitsubishi Suzuki Auto Group and learning on a daily basis. For example I had a guy that went to school with me, not that bright. He grew up working in his dads shop, so he can take out and put together an engine in less than a day. Hated school, always was asking me to help him especially when we had computer labs. At the shop I have seen when it comes to mechanical fixes he does it in a snap but when it comes to upgrades or something with technology he asks me for help. I Know this guy earns at least three times what I earn as a flat rate mechanic. Said all that to say this, I truly love my job. With your article now I kind of got some direction as to how to earn more money. I hate it when I hear so and so left and is now earning so much more money. Just got to stay and get deep rooted like you say. Start picking up ASE and get Master Certified. I have found that you can make pretty good chunk of change with side jobs. Thanks again for the article.

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    Eddie Carrara 5 years ago from New Hampshire

    Hey Padro, That's awesome, it takes a lot of courage to start your own business. Good luck and just remember, take care of your customers and the rest will fall into place.

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    Pedro Sanchez 5 years ago

    Excellent article Eddie. Thank you, I've established the relationship and work ethic you speak of at my previous employer. Unfortunately the pay was not there so I was forced to start my own mobile diagnostic business. Thanks again for the tips.

    Pedro Sanchez

    ASE CMAT, BOSCH CMAT

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    Eddie Carrara 6 years ago from New Hampshire

    Thanks hardlymoving, working as a tech is extremely physical and back breaking, I have been out of work for some time now because of a back injury at work, so while I'm between career changes, I figured I could help other tech's that are struggling make more money, the right way, that is the way I became top tech at my shop. Thanks for your feedback.

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    hardlymoving 6 years ago from Memphis, TN

    Great article! Lots of common sense advice. IMHO, auto repair is one of the toughest occupations that one can pursue as a career. That's why I got a college degree in IT so I can sit on my butt all day behind a monitor and push code in a nice air conditioned environment...until I got laid off. Had to start twisting a wrench to supplement my unemployment checks. Then I found out I can buy decent used cars (like the Camry), tune them up and turn them over for a decent profit. Still, I couldn't come close to what I was making as a IT professional. The supplemental income just paid the bills as a holdover until I found another IT job.

    There's so many different makes and models out there. I agree that working on a specific manufacturer's cars will make you more proficient; hence, the faster the repair, foreknowledge of the cost of parts and labor effort...also how much to undercut the competition to get the job and the customer walking away knowing they got a decent price/job.

    I just got a new job getting back into IT ... nice to get away from the back breaking work involved in twisting a wrench. But from my time being unemployed, I've discovered my true passion (hobby) and that is buying, fixing and then selling used cars.