automotive engineers - need advice on getting started
For all the ASEs or similar who frequent this board... how did you get started as an automotive technician/engineer? My dad wants to learn from a technical school... are the big ones like ApexTech, etc. a good way to go or are they overpriced?
Any leads are appreciated!
rh, I am currently working as a Ford Dealership Technician, and am curious, which one do you want to be? A tech or an Engineer?
I know if I knew than what I knew now, I wouldn't go into the wrenching end of it! I would suggest engineer, but I think you need a lot more schooling than just a tech school, but I might be wrong.
Anyways, I have noticed that there is such a high demand for tech's, that they don't even care to much about where you went to school, just as long as you went to any school.
Just my .02¢
My mistake... I kinda threw out the word engineer without even thinking about it... I didn't mean design... I meant technician. I just want to know more about cars in general... but be able to fix something with my own 2 hands instead of having the dealer tell me it'll cost $800 to fix something that we cut down to $346. You know what I mean.
But that's the kind of advice I was looking for... not sure if those tech schools will give you what you need to go out there...
Would love to hear more opinions from anyone out there
I'm a "shade tree mechanic" partly out of aptitude, partly in frustration and self defense. Everyone I've ever paid to work on my cars has left me disappointed. So I do all my own work. Sometimes I'm disappointed, but at least it didn't cost anything but my time. It's good therapy, and a hobby as rewarding as computers.
I have, and work on, old, simple cars. I've also worked on newer, computer managed models. They're more complex, but the rules of troubleshooting are the same as for anything else. That's the key to so many things. Focus on learning the techniques of diagnostics. I don't hesitate to take on the challenge of anything that needs fixing.
Where to learn? That's the rub. I'm of no real help there, my dad taught me some things, I've learned mostly by doing.
So if it's cars, get an old, simple one and keep it running. You'll know when you're ready for a newer one. Money? My old "wrecks" don't get very good mileage, but $0.00 in monthly payments buys a lot of fuel. Parts? Old Chevy and Ford parts continue to be available. There are "do-it-yourself" junk yards a lot of places. Great to go tear things apart without worrying about the damage. Cheap parts too! Good Luck!
Well there's certainly an idea... however none too realistic here... don't have much time to do that do-it-yourself kinda training... was hoping some technical school would give us a jumpstart.
Here, here, Roy!!
Well said. The key to success in any endeavor is discipline and methodology. Never, ever give up the opportunity to learn something. If you want to fix cars, go to your local library (or to a motorhead website!) and get a Chilton's manual for your car. Learn all you can. Sometimes buying a backyard "junker" to play with is the best tool for learning something as hands-on as car repair. Just like Roy, I did a lot of tinkering when I was younger. everything from motor rebuilds to rear-end replacements. Trial-and-error, but I was mechanically inclined and learned a lot. I replaced brakes and did tuen-ups in my yard (to the great consternation of my mother!!) for spending money during college.
An observation: Most very good car technicians/mechanics could probably be police detectives. They troubleshoot problems in an orderly "scientific method"...in a step-by-step manner. If you're doing this professionally, your bottom line is to diagnose the problem in the least amount of time and replace the least amount of parts. This is true whether you work for yourself, a garage or a dealership. Today's customers are VERY bottom-line oriented. So you must be as well!
Now, do you need school? Probably a good vocational school will give you all the training that you need. And if it is a good school, you can do "graduate" (read: older student) work at night towards a certificate or diploma. This works well in most cases, because garages and dealerships usually "co-op" students from vocational schools.
RH, stay away from the correspondence courses period. The schools that advertise on TV, uruh, I don't think so. Any state run Tech school will do. I enjoyed wrenching big time when I worked at the local Dodge, Datsun dealer from 71-74. Made mucho denero also, avg about $5.50-6.50 per hr. Large coin for the time when gold was $32/oz and a new chevy cost $2,800. The best teacher is of course time, however you can cheat this a little by chasing down old mechanics and asking for just one tip if they wouldn't mind too much. Then you'll get four hundred or so. Mine for ya is, on all cars from the late 70's through sometime in the 80's, a hard start when hot, sounding like a weak battery, mostly is aluminum battery cables. The clamp going to the starter will expand due to Al's excessive thermal expansion an loose contact with the lug. RE-crimp for temp fix, install copper cables soldered with 5% Silver solder for a permanent fix. Most dealers will hire folks with a few tools and a desire to work, then send them to the Ford/GM training. This is pretty cool cause you get to vacation somewhere nice like Bumprick Ar. No seriously, schooling sometimes includes minimum pay too. When he/you gets rather proficient(confident) approach the mgmt aboout going on straight commission. No Guarantee on pay at all, something like I did,, 60% of the gross labor. If flat rate is $50 hr, you get $33. A good mechanic can beat flat rate most of the time, however some jobs that pay say, 4.5 hrs, may take you 20 hrs. You whine and throw wrenches, it don't help. A mechanic should make a hundred grand a year, it is tough.. For money see some large corporation, GM, OMC, FMC, Whoever, the big ones have larger vacations and retirement. Few car dealers offer decent benefits, some may now, I dunno. Go for it, that way you won't say later, whine, I sure wish I'd gone to that Ford dealer, now Rusty Wallace owns it and gave everybody a 10 grand bonus.. lotsa luck DrVette
Try your local Jr. college. My wife did it in two years. You get a lot of hands on and a good general knowledge of all makes.
I got my training on the job. Been a Chrysler technician for twenty years. I've trained a lot of newbies. Most important ask before you break something. If ya don't know ASK.
HEY! username, does she have a sister? DrVette
She prefers to remain nameless.
No just two brothers.
wow, a hundred grand a year huh? What am I doing in computers? It's great though... to love what you do and get paid well for it... I wish I started on both of these interests a lot earlier...
I'll definitely look into local school programs... thanks much.
RH, maybe I ought to have said, they "deserve" a hundred grand a year. Doubtful if any in the SE USA make that kind of money. One of my pals has a small shop with about 6 tech's, he said they gross about 4 mil a year, net he didn't say. I'd figure 50 or 75 grand for the boss and 30's for the tech's .. DrVette
Oh hehe.. I think I'll stick with my job for a while then.
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