Knowing your way around an engine isn’t just helpful background information for your car restoration hobby – with the proper education, you could also parlay this interest into a career as an automotive technician. Residents of Hampton Roads, VA or the surrounding area are particularly in luck, as this is one of the best places in the country to train and work in this field. What exactly does an automotive technician do, and how do you get the training necessary to qualify to work as one?
Duties and Responsibilities
Automotive technicians (or auto techs for short) are the first-line workers in auto body shops, taking care of all the testing, troubleshooting and repairs on cars and their internal systems. Unlike the mechanics of old, auto technicians are responsible for the electronic and computer systems that have become commonplace in newer vehicles as well as the typical gears and pistons.
When a customer comes to them with car trouble, they need to be able to identify the problem, figure out an appropriate solution, and carry it out effectively. They also perform routine maintenance tasks like tire rotations and oil changes for customers who only need a quick vehicle check-up.
Auto techs primarily work at the mechanic shops where you’d expect to find them, but some are also employed by dealerships to service the cars under warranty at that location. Car parts retailers also employ some of these workers. Finally, many auto techs choose self-employment, taking on private customers and clients at prices they set themselves.
Education vs. Training: Gaining an Entrepreneurial Edge
Automotive technicians have two possible paths to employment: a degree or on-the-job training. Both will teach you the practical knowledge you’ll need to work on the cars, and the latter is the more traditional choice of the two. However, the fact that a third party usually administers a degree program makes it more flexible and portable than training conducted by a particular auto shop. An educational program will also typically include extra classes on things like inventory management, financial acumen, communications tactics and other valuable business competencies.
None of these things are directly related to the work of an auto technician, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be of use to you. These sorts of skills are just what you need to be able to effectively run your own independent auto shop. This route isn’t for everyone – it can bring incredible rewards in the form of more money and greater autonomy at work, but it also comes with a lot of added stress, longer hours and extra work tasks.
Nevertheless, it never hurts to have the option open to you, especially since you always have the option of doing your independent work as a side business while keeping your regular day job. With these extra business skills in your back pocket, you’ll have the tools necessary to make the most of the technical proficiency you’ve developed without necessarily depending on a single employer.
What’s So Special About Hampton Roads?
Thanks to the area’s close proximity to water, the job of an auto tech in Hampton Roads is a little different from what it would be anywhere else in the country. This region is home to the Port of Virginia, a collection of four different highly active port locations. These highly important hubs are the point through which most of Virginia’s imports and exports flow, and an estimated 60.6% of these goods are transported around the area by truck.
This makes Hampton Roads a highly attractive location for auto shop businesses. The area sees unusually high truck traffic, increasing the number of vehicles that could potentially require repairs. On top of that, when repairs are needed, it’s imperative that they be completed quickly and effectively in order to avoid holding up the supply lines.
Auto techs who know what they’re doing and can build up a reputation for themselves can reasonably expect to do well here, and solo operators have a great opportunity to break into the local market by taking on jobs that all the other techs and shops don’t have time to do.
We all depend on vehicles to keep our lives running smoothly, and you could be one of the auto technicians who ensures that they all stay in good working condition. Advanced Technology Institute’s Associates in Occupational Science Degree in Automotive Technology with Service Management program can teach you everything you need to know to take your place in the ranks of this industry. Contact our admissions team right away to have us answer any of the questions you might have about this exciting program.