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The Automobile Industry

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Summary: Job options for those contemplating a career in the automobile industry.

An overview of occupations in the automobile industry and what they entail

Career Overview

Careers in the transportation field offer many opportunities. With so many cars on the road, there are increasing job opportunities in manufacturing, assembly, sales, maintenance, driving instruction, parking, rentals, repair, licensing, inspections, and chauffeuring.

Auto Mechanics

Auto mechanics inspect, repair, and service cars at service stations or car dealerships. As a mechanic, you are exposed to dirt, dust, and fumes. Auto mechanics typically have a high school diploma. Specialized mechanical training at technical or trade schools may be helpful. Some mechanics learn on the job.

Mechanics usually work forty hours a week and may work in shifts. A shift is either an eight- or twelve-hour period during the day or night. Wages generally start at $12 to $25 an hour. An experienced master mechanic can earn from $70,000 to $100,000 a year.

Other Careers in the Automobile Industry

There are many other exciting opportunities in this field. Young people with high school diplomas and some experience have a good chance of being hired in entry-level, or beginning positions. Many of these jobs offer some benefits, such as health insurance or paid sick or vacation days. Being ambitious and applying directly to personnel departments or shops may help you to get the best job.

Taxi Drivers/Cabbies

Taxi drivers, or cabbies, take passengers wherever they want to go. People are picked up at bus terminals, train stations, airports, individual homes, and on city streets. A taxi driver must know all of the streets and roads within a given area. Taxi drivers also learn to operate a two-way cab radio. This is how the driver stays in contact with the dispatcher.

Taxi drivers keep records of passenger destinations and collect fares. They must be at least twenty-one years old, have a state-issued chauffeur's license, and have a special taxicab operator's license, which is issued by the Public Utilities Commission.

Good driving skills and the ability to remain calm in heavy traffic are necessary. A high school diploma is preferred. Health insurance, life insurance, and retirement benefits are usually provided by the company. Cabbies typically earn 40 to 50 percent of their fares plus tips. They often work twelve-hour days, five or six days a week and can earn between $20,000 and $30,000 a year.


Chauffeurs drive people to specific locations in private cars or limousines. These drivers must be available at all times, depending on the needs of the person or company that hires them. A high school diploma, a neat appearance, a chauffeur's license, and a good driving record are required. A chauffeur can earn $25,000 to $50,000 a year including tips.

Parking Lot Attendants

Parking lot attendants move and handle cars in private and public lots. They collect money and provide security for vehicles in the lots. To be a parking lot attendant a driver's license is required, and a high school diploma is preferred. Wages are between $7.50 and $12 an hour.

Driving Instructors

Driving instructors teach people how to drive. Instruction is given both in a classroom and on the road. Instructors are usually hired by driving schools, auto clubs, or community colleges. They must be good drivers who are patient with people. A high school diploma is required. Wages are $12 to $18 an hour.

Car Salesman

Car salesmen sell cars. They negotiate deals with customers to make profits for the car dealership. They are also responsible for doing the necessary paperwork to close the deal. Hours can be long, and you may have to work in the evening or on weekends.

A neat appearance and good people skills are required to be a salesman. Some college experience is suggested. Salaries are paid on commission, which means that you earn a percentage of the profit on the sales that you make. A good salesperson has the opportunity to earn a lot of money.

Rental/Leasing Agent

Car rental and leasing agents rent and lease cars at airports, railroad stations, bus terminals, and local city offices. They must know rental requirements and how to do necessary paperwork. Some college experience may be preferred for these jobs. Computer training may also be helpful and good interpersonal skills are needed. Salaries range from $15,000 to $25,000 a year.

Auto Body Repair Workers

Auto body repair workers repair the exterior, or body, of cars and trucks. They also repaint cars and do custom design work. A high school diploma is preferred for auto body repair workers. Specialized training from a technical or trade school may be useful. On-the-job training may be provided. Wages range from $12 to $22 an hour.

Factory Auto Workers

Factory autoworkers assemble cars and trucks on production lines. They must possess some mechanical skills and be able to work well with others. They also must be able to deal with repetitive tasks.

A high school diploma is preferred for factory autoworkers. Training is generally done on the job. Most jobs in automobile factories are unionized, which means that every employee must belong to a union. Salaries range from $25,000 to $40,000 a year.

Questions to Ask Yourself

1) Do you think a driver's education class or mechanic's course would help you in the future? Why or why not?
2) What types of jobs in the auto industry might be available to you immediately after high school?
3) Where can you learn more about auto careers that interest you?

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