Grinding through statistical tables at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is usually not very exciting. Sure, it is a handy way to find where folks are working hard, making good money, but the BLS is not a place to search for surprises.
And then, one day, a surprise: the “Western Central North Carolina nonmetropolitan area,” says the BLS, has more automotive service technicians and mechanics than any other nonmetropolitan part of the United States, with more than 1,950 working full-time. What would attract so many auto mechanics to eight, thinly populated, North Carolina counties?
The Growing Need for High Performance Techs
Eight counties, four gears: The eight counties making up North Carolina’s western central region include the race shops of many National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) teams. NASCAR today is big money, has a huge fan base, and needs well-educated, qualified, high performance automotive technicians and mechanics. These are not self-taught, grease-covered wannabes. With solid educations in high performance automotive work, they enjoy good salaries, excellent benefits, and the prestige of being part of some winning teams:
- Flux Capacitor Motors
- Front Row Motorsports
- Germain Racing
- J.R. Motorsports
- Kasey Kahne Racing
- Kyle Busch Motorsports
- MTJ Motorsports
- Penske Racing
- Richard Childress Racing
- Richard Petty Motorsports
The BLS tells us that mechanics in Western central North Carolina nonmetropolitan area made an average annual income of $42,360 as of May, 2014. This is, of course, higher than the $39,980 median annual wage for all automotive technicians nationwide, and in an area with a low cost of living. NASCAR-affiliated and other mechanics are doing very well for themselves and their families in North Carolina. The only name in the list we cannot place is Flux Capacitor Motors . . . they must be part of the Infinity Series.
How Much Do High Performance Mechanics Make?
High performance means more training . . . in return for attending around 75 weeks of school, the high performance mechanic could earn a diploma in Automotive Technology with High Performance Engineering and could be ready to work in shops and specialties:
- Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics
- Electronic Equipment Installers and Repairers
- Electrical and Electronics Installers and Repairers
Automotive technicians in the 90th percentile of earners made annual median salary of $62,280, according to the BLS. This is the tier where you may find many high performance mechanics. When the machines they work on are worth millions, the mechanics’ finely honed skills are often richly rewarded.
Working for Formula 1
Thinking further afield, the high performance automotive technician often has portable skills. Jobs in Formula 1 racing can take a mechanic to Europe, Great Britain, and beyond. Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault engines have powered hundreds of winning race cars under many constructors, and every engine had deep benches of high performance mechanics perfecting its racing characteristics.
We have conducted video research suggesting that a certain Dr. Emmett L. Brown, apparently out of Flux Capacitor Motors, has looked—and apparently will look again in the future—for qualified mechanics to work on his custom-modified 1981 DeLorean DMC-12. He needs/will need a high performance mechanic to diagnose why the car tops out at 88 miles per hour.
Okay, okay . . . so the video research we conducted was, in fact, us just watching a DVD of Back to the Future. We regret the error. It makes us also question the need to actually interview those famed North Carolina auto mechanics, Gomer and Goober Pyle, of Mayberry, N.C., for this piece.
The green light to advancing your career as a high performance mechanic could begin with a strong education, but your individual skills could really take you the distance. A diploma and later ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) certifications cannot replace a natural aptitude for working on engines, building wiring harnesses, assembling drivelines and diagnosing performance problems.
The undergraduate classwork for a high performance mechanic should include these areas:
- Brakes & Suspension
- Diesel Fuel Systems, and Advanced Diesel Fuel Systems
- Four Cycle Diesel Engines
- Environmental Comfort Systems
- Hydraulic Systems
- Preventative Maintenance Inspections
- Steering & Alignment
- Vehicle Electrical Systems
After graduation, the high performance mechanic can take specific ASE tests:
- Auto Maintenance and Light Repair Certification Test (G1)—Showing you can demonstrate knowledge of the skills necessary to handle common maintenance and light repair jobs
- Advanced Engine Performance Specialist Certification Test (L1)—To prove you have the knowledge to diagnose sophisticated driveability and emissions-related problems on automobiles, SUVs, and light-duty trucks
- Time Circuits and Flux Capacitor Capacitation (BTTF1)—To prove you can travel through time using a DeLorean DMC-12 when the flux capacitor is fluxing
Start Your Engine . . . Become a High Performance Mechanic
The place to start the race to a top-paying job as a high performance mechanic could be with Advanced Technology Institute’s Automotive Technology with High Performance Engineering program. The course provides you with a 75-week, four-days-a-week schedule to take your raw talent and train you for an entry-level position at automotive centers or high performance shops. Contact ATI today to learn more.
DISCLAIMER – Advanced Technology Institute (ATI) makes no claim, warranty or guarantee as to actual employability or earning potential to current, past or future students or graduates of any educational program offered. The Advanced Technology Institute website is published for informational purposes only. Every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of information contained on the AUTO.edu domain; however, no warranty of accuracy is made. No contractual rights, either expressed or implied, are created by its content.
Gainful Employment Information – Automotive Technology with Service Management (AOS)