“The freedom of the open road” explains people’s unabashed love for cars and everything associated with them. But it isn’t necessarily all-encompassing for automotive enthusiasts of different walks. Some people love talking about cars, some love driving them, and others like the problem-solving associated with repairing them. Here are three careers for car enthusiasts worth checking out.
Mechanics used to be people who loved using their hands, piecing together puzzles, and getting a little dirty. Technicians still do those things, but also need the skills to address computer-related issues with engines, GPS, and even self-parking technology. ASE (Automotive Service Excellence)-certified technicians can do it all and then some.
Automotive technicians can get started by tinkering around with their own cars, and helping friends and family with oil changes, brake jobs, and tune-ups. A formal education will be needed to land a job at a repair shop. Online schools like Penn Foster offer self-paced repair technician programs that are nationally accredited and allow flexible payment options. These programs prepare students to take the exams for ASE certification.
The median annual salary for automotive technicians was $36,610 as of May 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Job opportunities for technicians are expected to be better than average through the year 2022.
You may not become the next Cal Worthington — arguable one of the most well-known car salesmen in the U.S. — but this job can earn a person six-figures utilizing their customer service skills and knowledge of cars if they apply themselves.
Car salesmen of 2014 are different from those of 10 years ago, as the Internet has become the car lot. Most salespeople are now online agents who answer questions via email and instant messages from visitors to the company’s online showroom. The overall dynamics of auto sales have also changed, as customers can now get valuation information from sites like Kelly’s Blue book as a negotiation tool.
The average gross profit a dealership makes on a new car sale was $1,283 in 2012, down from $1,531 in 2002, according to the National Automobile Dealers Association. This trend has led dealers to replace commission-only pay plans with flat commissions with a base salary. Despite this, the Wall Street Journal, citing data from automotive data firm DeltaTrends, reported that the average salary of salesmen was over $63,000 in 2012.
It will take several years and a lot of luck to make the $25.6 million Dale Earnhardt, Jr. received in 2013 in salary and endorsements as a NASCAR Sprint Cup driver. But there is a clear path for anyone to get there if they’re willing to make the necessary sacrifices and put forth the effort.
The earlier you start, the better off you’ll be. Go-Kart racing will likely be your first foray into the sport. Parker Kligerman, the 2009 ARCA Re/Max Series Rookie Of The Year, described the 10 “nerve wracking, disorienting” years it took him to go from go-kart racer to the NASCAR circuit. The 23-year-old also describes the other harsh reality of auto-racing: it takes a lot of money to be successful.
Those who are serious about getting into auto racing should buy a pit pass at their local track and network with as many people as possible. One clever way to fund your dream of auto racing is crowdfunding. Once you have some video and stories to tell of your kart racing, create an Indiegogo or Kickstarter campaign and see what happens.
Those who are really good with mathematics can also consider automotive engineering. Natural scribes can become journalists for automotive magazines or sports writers covering the different circuits.
About the Author: Brian Wilkins is an Arizona State University journalism grad who has worked as a radio broadcaster and banking industry professional. He is an independent journalist, blogger and small business owner who loves life. He lives off-the-grid and has not owned a TV in more than six years.