3 Reasons Why There’s a Shortage in Auto Mechanics

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CBT’s Joe Gumm sat down with Fixed-Ops guru and host of the Weekly Tune-Up, Becky Nixon, to talk about the decreasing number of mechanics in the automotive industry.

46 COMMENTS

  1. So where are the $100k jobs?? Are you kidding?? I am in this business 39 years, 26 ASE certs double master and working on Ford senior master and my dealer is happy that I have no plans to retire soon. I don’t make $100k but I do very and I still enjoy what I do. I sat on an advisory consul for awell known automotive trade school and it was a joke. They blew smoke up these kids ass telling them that when that have completed there masters program they can hit the field and start at $40k. Lies! These kids are paying $25-$35k in tuition plus the tools and I dont know if you have checked but a larger majority of these teachers are NOT certified teachers. There requirement is ASE certs in the field that they want to teaching. I challenge you to go and sit in some of these classes and ask some questions you will be shocked ( I was blown away) with the answers. Keep in mind that most of the students beleave what they are told and the instructors wont be challenged on what they are instructing.

    Case in point we just hire a “green” kid, 20 years old trade school grad and he just did his FIRST oil change. He never dismounted and mounted or balanced a tire until today. He did not know how to pressure test a cooling system cause no one showed him how. Working with him he happens to be very bright and should do well with proper instruction. This is the education so many of these kids are getting cause there are no standards or guide lines they are taught “whatever”. I told him to get a lawyer and sue the school to get his money back. He is not the first and will not be the last. Everyone is so focused on technology and forgets about the basics and these kids struggle when they gets there high paying jobs that start at $12 and hour and the question is, why is there a shortage? Well a moron can figure that one out, the industry is self destructive and the manufactures had better figure it out quick cause in my opinion people are going to get to a point where features and comfort and not going to make the sale but who can fix my car will….

    • Australian Opinion:
      Agreed Ron, condescending attitude by others still calling modern mechanics ‘grease monkeys’, SRTs often beyond a joke where some managers expect some creative accounting. On job training focused on just getting car out the door. An industry in many sections that exudes an approach to after sales service as an after thought that can wait. Pay & conditions especially in provincial areas not keeping pace with technology. In-house overhaul or re-manufacture expertise declining & the list goes on. Here ‘downunder’ the government has opened the flood gates to foreign workers from Asia which brings its own problems. A roll back has commenced although it remains to be seen if that will have an impact on the workshop floor.

      I wonder just like Ford valued a persons life in the notorious Pinto episode; are car makers growing increasingly confident their products won’t fail in the field or the failure rates for irate customers are tolerable to save some money? Lemon laws can’t come soon enough for a lot of Ford customers.

    • You are so right. My Engine Performance instructor was brilliant! My Drivetrain instructor…..i fell asleep! I’m glad tho that after 4 years in the field, I was able to climb out of the rut. I got hired at $12.5 and left at $17. Now McDonald’s is hiring at $12! No tools! No brain either! And full benefits!

  2. Was any research done on this? Seriously.

    1) Did you look up the differences in wages and benefits between auto technicians and, say, plumbers, electricians, carpenters, etc? And then compare Master automotive technicians, master plumbers, master electricians, etc, etc.

    For one, you’ll find that Master Automotive Technicians are so voluntarily. Second, you’ll find quite a wage gap. Not only is there a gap in pay, but also benefits; as well as automotive technicians are often required to spend a substantial amount of their personal incomes on tools and equipment to perform tasks they’ve been hired to do. The other service trades often do not, and if they do it pales in comparison. So…lower pay, more personal financial investment and fewer benefits.

    This isn’t even bringing up the time investment to continue to learn about new technologies, equipment and testing techniques. Technicians rarely are paid to attend training and many not only don’t get paid to attend, but also pay to get to the training and maybe even the training itself.

  3. If you want an eye opener look up what Suffolk county NY, Suffolk county water Authority mechanics make. This is public record and they are supplied with everything they need including tools. What are we doing wrong??

  4. Cars are more complicated now than ever.
    The average guy use to be able to work on his own car. Those days are gone. The factories change things so fast most people have a time keeping up with the changes.
    You can’t check the transmission fluid in many cars now. No dip stick. The things are sealed units. Meaning special tools must to look at fluid. The list is on and on.
    50 years ago a high school education plus some trade school training you could work at a new car dealership. Now no way the average guy can’t work on cars for a living

  5. this video is all lies they are lying to trick more young people into a terrible industry that doesn’t pay well and requires you to purchase your own tools. the working conditions are terrible in most cases and it’s just one headache after the other. and if you have the aptitude the technical know-how and ability to WORK WITH YOUR HANDS to thrive in the automotive industry, you can earn twice as much in other industries. I think she forgot to mention the flat rate system, young people that means what you make is what you take. where labor times get cut and dealerships get labor rate increases . and tool prices rise. yep you have to buy your own tools . and when you’re first starting out plan on losing A few it’s just a part of the job. so while you’re rushing because you’re on flat rate and you forget a $130 ratchet under the hood of a customers car at $12 an hour you just lost all of today’s pay and part of tomorrow’s. The cost of the school plus about $30,000 in tools, and that’s on the low-end, is very expensive. i’ve been doing it 30 years now and my pay is OK but younger people make a whole lot less and do all of the dirty work. and you can spend all the money for training and tools, but this is something everyone is not cut out for, I found automobiles very intriguing at the age of eight or nine years old and I started working with my dad who was a industrial mechanic and I started studying what makes Automobiles tick. it took some high school vocational two years and I dropped out of college after about a year and a half i’m a ASE master Jaguar master and ford master technician and I only earned about 60 K a year. that’s nowhere near $100,000
    any techs making 100 K or year a better. sound off, this is based on what I see, perhaps I just lucked up on 5 bad dealerships over a 30 year period. my current dealership is from the 50’s tools are missing, outdated, and most are broken, and it’s less tech and mostly grunt work. because the light easy tech jobs go to the old guys with seniority, and i’ve only been there 3 years, but they pay a decent salary and it’s by the hour with overtime. oh yea The government allows flat rate to be considered salary so dealerships don’t have to pay time and a half to flat rate technicians that way you can work all the hours you want to try to make your 40. again other techs join in and tell your story, i’m in the midwest Chicago is about 100 miles from Milwaukee and it’s a mixed bag i’ve been offered as much an $35.00 with a 35 hour guarantee and as little as $19 an hour with no guarantee.

  6. I cannot agree with several areas of this article. I used to work as a technician and I am one that moved into Management not due to the physical work, but the way I was treated. I was a dealer tech, required to work every other Saturday, making every other week a 6 day week. Fathers and others do not encourage their sons or daughters to be technicians. My friend is a plumber and made just as much as I did and got weekends off.
    The best phrase that convinced me to leave was “Your are our most efficient tech. You turn 120% based on the time you are here. The General Manager wants you to work and extra hour a day to make even more money.” I got punished for doing a good job. I spoke to the General Manager and told him I was happy with my wage, preferring not to work extra and he looked at me like I had three heads. Look only to studies like Herzberg’s and you will see money is NOT a motivational factor!
    There are few benefits, 1 week of vacation after the first year (so one with no vacation) and little or no sick time, punished for taking a sick day and lots of weekend work.
    If you compare to the computer jobs they spoke of, you do not have to buy your own tools, get better working conditions, and better benefits. Many of my friends that work in computer industries still have to work some third shift, are on call, and work weekends to update this or change that. Its not the working hours, its how people are treated.
    Now I manage a State shop. Tools are purchased and vacation and benefits are much better. My techs are happy, receive training and are treated better. Until Dealerships realize they must treat the techs and really all employees better, then people will want to return to work in these areas.

  7. As a Master ASE tech for the past 30 plus years, all the studies on why we are losing more tech’s then gaining is a joke, they just won’t ever admit the real truth, and the truth is it’s because of wages. I can honestly say I know some amazing tech’s within the dealerships and independent shops and no one is making anywhere close to a $100k, that’s an outright lie these schools tell these kids.
    Money is the number one reason and I’m not the only one who thinks that, one of my friends wifes just today told me her husband left his 25 years at the dealership because of loss of wages over the past decade or so. Shops are making profits, but most are not passing those profits down to their experienced techs. I think to myself, 30 years ago I was getting paid .5hr to do a coolant flush, 30 years later I still get .5hr’s yet way more is involved in that simple item with the complex vehicles. Or for an example, a job requiring the removed of a instrument carrier to access a heater core or evaporator which may pay some crazy labor time like 5.4 hr’s, yet you spend 10 hours doing the job as fast as you can. Everything with complex vehicles take more time to do , yet the labor payout hasn’t increased much, if any.
    I’ve said for a few years now, as complex as cars are if you’re able to make an ok living as an auto tech, don’t become one, go to school and be an engineer, the skill level is the same, if not easier. Plus an engineer works normally a lot less hours than an auto tech, and works in much better working conditions.
    I’ve made a decent living in this industry but I’d not wish my son or a young adult to get involved with this career.

    • I forgot to mention that lack of days off is another reason it’s a very tough industry to work. I’ve worked 6 days/ 60 hr weeks 52 weeks a year, year after year. Two things that go with those hours you work, 1- flat-rate means you get ZERO overtime pay and, 2- working tons of days and hours wears out your body and mind very quickly. I go through mental job burn out stages about 3-4 times a year, it’s a tough career and I’d not suggest anyone get into it. Getting days off work is not as easy as you’d think, especially working in an independent shop where they may only have 1-3 techs. Those shops are in to make money, so they really need you there to work all those days, if you’re not there, there’s no one to fill in and work backs up.

      • I totaling agree. Ive done it. Its so true. This is a tuff job. The service depth. Its too hot in summer. To cold in winter. It requires a much more intelligent person. That said if your intelligent. Your going to work in a job with out heat and air. Not a comfortable environment to work in if your intelligent.

    • Another excellent point. The pay is to low.
      The manufacturer’s who build these cars set the rate they will pay the dealerships for any and all warranty work done on vehicles.
      We have lost many men to others fields of endever because the money is not there

    • You have hit the nail on the head. Your 100% correct. The hours long pay is less. And the big one. The guys who sit in a aircondioned
      Office comfortable create these cars give no regard on who will have to repair it when it’s not so nice out in the real world. A real service dept is not like the factory.

  8. Talk about the tools and tool box.
    Most fields of endever do not require a employee to bring what they will work with.
    With them. A Auto Service Tech can easily invest up to 2
    100,000 dollars in tools and a box to store them.
    Not may high skilled jobs in other fields require this. Matter of fact other fields usually provide all a person needs on site.
    To mu point it takes years for a master tech to be able to pay off such a investment in the tools alone. So they have a account set up with the tool truck. That guy comes by once a week to collect pay for tools the tech needs. Then let’s go further with this.
    In the old days things were at least standardized. Meaning you could use a tool on most any vehicle made. Not now every manufacturer uses different ways which requires more tools.
    Every year the factory will change something to require another tool be invented there for requiring the tech to buy yet another tool.
    After a tech has done this job for 20 years.
    Yes he can have invested easily $100,000
    In tools. No one no where but automotive industry is it all on the Tech to provide his own equipment to work with. And this is one more reason more kids are not willing to work in a automotive service dept let alone a independent shop where there they have to work on all vehicles that come in the door.
    You can never receive enough education to have all the knowledge needed to keep up with all the changes. This is why after a few years guys get burnt out on the whole thing and go into another field of work. Leaving a void in a already declining industry

  9. I was a auto tech for 27 years plus part time we’ll still in high school and then tech school. 25 of those years were spread as a flat rate dealership tech. As with many people that spend this much time in a dealership, the more experienced you get, the more difficult/technical the jobs get. Yes the hourly wage may increase but flat rate times are extremely difficult to make. Add in the fact that many warranty repairs require prior approval from the manufacturer, that from my experience is on your own nickel. 6 years ago I changed careers and took a job as an industrial mechanic at a medical device manufacturer. Working conditions, pay, and benefits are unbelievable. There are yearly reviews and raises no more begging for more money. This place has been manufacturing medical devises for long before I worked there and will manufacture them long after I gone, but everyday they let me know how much they appreciate me working there. This goes a long way with me. I see a lot of you people coming to work there with associates degrees in automation/robotics. I think this is the field some of the potential auto techs are going into.

  10. Great comments here guys, unfortunately they will all be willfully ignored by management. It is absolutely horrific how 10 minutes of that video somehow did not include the real reasons behind the tech shortage. I wonder why a veteran automotive technician that actually has real experience working in the filthy trenches was not asked to speak truthfully about the shortage, perhaps he would provide a little too much harsh reality that would offend the management structure? Low pay, high cost of necessary tools, tough working conditions, tyrannical greedy management, pervasive culture of dishonesty, pressure to commit fraud, and a corrupted flat rate system that rewards speed over quality = technician shortage. Were we all supposed to be massively impressed when she said $38,000 a year? Hmm that’s like demanding a neurologist to perform brain surgery for the same salary as the hospital janitor and then complaining you can’t find any good neurosurgeons.

  11. Listen up kids – Up to $100,000 a year is a blatant unscrupulous sales tactic. More accurately, you have a 0.01% chance of landing a dealership job that pays six figures. You have a 99% chance of landing a job that keeps you slightly above poverty/bottom end of middle class if you work extremely hard. The words “pay raise” and “unionize” are considered foul language and will cause you to be mysteriously and quickly terminated if management hears you speak these terms. Good luck finding a hot wife and paying down debts while barely scraping by on $38,000 which feels more like $30,000 after taxes. I think smart kids these days know a bad deal when they see one. Hmm work in a nice air conditioned office with polite people at a properly functioning benevolent corporation or nearly die from heat exhaustion inside a hot filthy garage working ten hour days working on crusty rusty junks under the direction of dysfunctional management. Both jobs pay the same. Tech shortage defined right there.

    • They have one fake Union shop per city that discourages anyone from going Union.They really can’t get around keystone pricing and have absolutely no justification for more than doubling the cost of the technicians labor.Not a single person on this planet would think charging a $150 an hour shop rate then wheeling the car in the back room and having a $10 an hour rookie doing the work would be acceptable.1,500% labor cost markup!

    • I have a list of trade skills and averages for 30 cities.All of their GPM’s are just a few percent and these car dealers are beginning to average several hundred percent through illegal price and wage fixing in dealer associations.

  12. This is a horribly contrived and “head in the sand” interview and perspective being espoused by this woman. She either is ignorant or intentionally avoid ing the 2 real reasons there are not enough technicians. Flat Rate pay system and poor overall employment culture in the industry. Both of these are ignored by dealer principles and OEMs equally, and both cause we intelligent technicians to look elsewhere for more rewarding and balanced occupations.

  13. Hey everyone, how about we ask BMW to look at how well they pay their service writers in comparision to the mechanics. I have a very close friend of mine whom in his first year at BMW made over 90K as a service writer. Can they say that about the mechanics? The industry has shot itself in the foot by thinking that service writers are more valuable than the mechanic. Most service writer I know only have a high school diploma. The mechanic most of the time is the most educated person in the building.
    I have seen the evolution of change, I have been a mechanic for over 32 years, I have to constantly keep my training up to date. Sadly I have to say that I wish I had made a better career choice.

  14. If a shop is charging me $160 an hour I would expect a highly paid German rocket scientist working on my vehicle instead of a $10 an hour at risk youth!

  15. Just seen a car dealership service department commercial with their star technician checking minimum brake rotor thickness with a plastic Vernier caliper.Only $140 an hour!

  16. This is the old Volt and these morons are shopping for idiots to do unnecessary maintenance services and recalls for free.” It’s a good thing software code doesn’t weigh much. The Chevrolet Volt boasts an all electric range of more than 40 miles, but it takes 10 million lines of code to get it there. The software heavy car features over 100 electronic controllers and also has a unique IP address for each one on the road.

    For comparison, the new Boeing 787, which is widely considered to be the most electronic airliner ever, has around 8 million lines of code. And that includes the complex avionics and navigation systems. The new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter? Around 6 million.”

  17. We have Technician Compensation Panels at national trade shows stupid people!”But forming a trade association does not shield joint activities from antitrust scrutiny: Dealings among competitors that violate the law would still violate the law even if they were done through a trade association. For instance, it is illegal to use a trade association to control or suggest prices of members. It is illegal to use information-sharing programs, or standardized contracts, operating hours, accounting, safety codes, or transportation methods, as a disguised means of fixing prices.” They are suggesting a 70% minimum GPM on labor but only the ethical retail standard 40% GPM on cheap fake Chinese crap parts. http://www.autodealermonthly.com/channel/dps-office/article/story/2012/06/service-and-parts-profitability.aspx

  18. 80,90 even a 100k was commonplace 20 years ago until this wage fixing cartel decided to cut the techs pay rather than throwing the office manager a bone or her very own personalized coveralls.”These changes have led to some problems over the years. Number one, there are huge inequities. You may have an office manager in one of your stores that’s doing payroll, payables, is accountable for the bank balance, and carries a lot of the business decisions, and we’ve got body men and painters making three and four times what she does. Is it fair? I don’t think so. Probably everybody in the room has experience with technicians making $80, $90, $100 thousand a year. Given these rates, what happens when you want to fill your pipeline into your estimating and management positions? We’ve got guys making this huge money; you can’t pay to estimate cars what they were making on the floor. They have to take a cut in pay, sometimes half of what they used to make, creating some real problems.”There were shortages of techs then too but a huge oversupply of dumb office managers. http://www.justbodyshops.com/TomHolmes.htm

  19. “Wanted Drivers 2 yrs exp and CDL 70k also Needed Mechanics 10 yrs exp,AAS diesel technology,ASE certified,own tools and CDL 35k”We have autonomous driving hydrogen fuelcells and there is a huge shortages of drivers.

  20. Why should a high end European luxury car company receive tax credits to poach veterans to do free warranty work for wealthy people during the middle of a diesel truck and farm mechanic shortage when community charities are trying to put these people on their own farms with their own trucks and equipment? http://jlrvets.com/careers/careers.aspx

  21. I spent my life as a mechanic and have come to the conclusion that no one respects this trade, if they did it would pay better. Shops here right now in Pensacola are charging between $95 – $105 an hour, the dealerships are paying a good seasoned certified mechanic between $16 – $25 an hour flat rate. Come on, if you want to get people in this industry bring back the 50-50 labor hour split for mechanics. They say they can’t do that but maybe that’s just because everyone has their hand in the goddamn pot . Service advisers who in most cases around here anyway are nothing more than glorified receptionists make more than the mechanic who fixes the car. This is backwards. I knew a parts manager at Honda who made over 100 K a year, seriously the goddamn parts manager. Most of the car salesman I know take home more than the average mechanic. So the guy out back who’s sweating to death, busting his knuckles with a personal investment of at the very least $30,000 in tools makes less money than the guy up front in air-conditioning who only needed an ink pen to come to work. I’ve never met a mechanic who advised his son to get into this industry, every mechanic of ever known has steered away his children into something other than being a mechanic. When your dad says don’t follow in my footsteps, be something else, be anything else. You got a real problem.

    • My guess is that you just want to not pay anyone with some creative weirdo crook pay plan too.I am done with it and everyone I know that has gotten out has a more stable and better life!

  22. If you want to fix the problem, address the issues, and stop lying 🤥 about the conditions and the pay. companies should gain wealth from the work that the employees do, robbing the employees is not the way to do business. not if you want young bright intelligent minds. there is no $100k automotive tech jobs out there, $75k is a acceptable number but she said 5 years, it’s actually about 15 years, you have to be GOOD, work your way up through the hierarchy, oh yeah and you’ll probably have invested $75k in tools. oh yes the tools come out of your pocket.
    now lets sum it up. not withholding the cost of trade schools, you need tools, so the normal custom is to buy and pay as you go. so on top of school figure an additional $100 to $150 a month for tools, fresh out a trade school no experience you have to prove yourself first, It take about 5 years to be proficient so most of our new techs fresh out of trade school start at about $13 an hour I think that comes to like $28,000 not $38,000, as you grow and gain more experience in the business that’s when the robbery starts, they put you on what they call flat rate, what that means is what you make is what you take. now some shops and dealerships will offer what they call a guarantee which is about 32 hours a week, and top tech pay here in the Midwest seems to be around $32 an hour and that’s a high number , so that puts your base pay at just over $52,000 annually. with the flat rate system don’t expect to make much more than that. The flat rate system is a time game and most dealerships are not set up or equipped for such conditions. my goodness I could go on all day, real quick synopsis. I guess good old Beckey is going to die with that lie. show young people a bright lively clean environment, oh yea and tell them it’s all computers, young people love computers, and the icing on the cake, you can earn $100k a year, and after 5 years. $100k as tech at a dealership? A GUN AND A MASK. and this 90% of the dealers out there, dark, dirty, poor healing in the winter, no AC in the summer, poor lighting,broken, missing, outdated tools, and thank goodness for government deregulation, some states don’t require ventilation systems, yes there expensive so most shops don’t have them, so you may die from cancer or dementia from constantly breathing and absorbing known carcinogens, and the pay is low.

  23. Point blank and simple manufacturers expect way too much out of their auto techs and with the times the pay has not kept up. Any one who can fix a car is worth 250k a year as this was not unheard of in the 90’s but owners dont want to pay due to greed and manufacturer book times are comicly low. Kids get out when they are smart knowing local union jobs will pay 200k pluss a year after 5 years and typically 100k pluss to start as an aprentice. Where is the incentive to spend endless money on an ongoing edgucation and tools. Im still wrenching way toooo many years, keys to the dealer some nights without sleep working into the following day to support my family. Auto network that cant report factual news, you road test cars for free, look them over for free, fill out multipoint inspections for free, get parts pricing for free… every .2hr is alot, adds up to a weeks pay at the end of the year if they bag you .2hr a day, hell i waste more than that. Typically takes 8 hoyrs to make 4…. while the uti grads do gravy brakes and services all day to try to brain wash them into staying.

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