Do you feel like your career is on cruise control? Perhaps it’s time to put your pedal to the metal and start revving up your career path like a 1967 Shelby Mustang GT500.
Instead of getting a degree in something that doesn’t interest you or pushing papers eight hours a day, maybe you should search for jobs that really stimulate your mind and allow you to go to bed excited about tomorrow.
This might be a wake-up call to either consider automotive careers or to change your current career and look into these jobs for car lovers.
Is it a gamble? Sure. Is it worth the risk? Yes, it is.
It’s time to hit the brakes on the mundane, fill up on your calling, and accelerate into a profession that will yield tremendous results.
We’ve compiled a list of the 15 best automotive jobs that will attract any grease monkey.
1. Car dealer
When you’re passionate about something, everyone can see it. Eventually, your passion becomes contagious, and others get excited by the same thing, which is a great characteristic in a car dealership.
Also known as a salesperson, a car dealer will essentially handle the transaction. This involves negotiating the price, explaining financing options and warranties, collecting payments, test-driving the car with customers, and delivering the product.
The typical education level for a car dealer is high school, but two things are more common: college coursework in finance, or public speaking and specialised automotive technology training.
2. Autobody technician
An autobody technician will make automobiles as good as new following a car accident or some other type of incident. Using the best tools at their disposal, their role involves removing old parts, installing new ones, fixing scratches, filling holes and reversing any other damage.
The position also consists of preventive maintenance, such as inspecting and testing cars, performing engine tune-ups and oil changes, replacing filters and washing the automobiles.
After receiving a high school diploma there are two things you can do: apply for formal training or get on-the-job training. In today’s market, it might be preferable to attain a trade education first.
3. Car rental agent
Car rental agents combine their love of cars, clerical skills and sales-driven personalities.
These agents provide customer service to people who need to rent an automobile — be it a sedan, luxury car or 4x4. Car rental agents will complete the transaction, check the condition of the car (before and after), collect payments, take phone calls and solve complaints. A lot of entry-level positions will consist of cleaning the cars, filling them up with gasoline and ensuring they are ready for the next client.
The main requirement for this job is a high school diploma. You should also have proficient computer and data entry skills.
A valet driver will assist and retrieve vehicles for a hotel, building or restaurant’s guests. In addition to working hands on with cars that come onto the premise, valets will be responsible for assisting guests with their luggage, providing directions when asked, greeting visitors and offering any other guest-related assistance. But the main thing is that they drive cars to and from the parking lot.
If you love cars, then this is your opportunity to experiment with a long list of vehicles — from the exotic to the mundane. The good thing is, there aren’t many requirements to become a valet, except a high school diploma (or GED equivalent) and a driver’s licence.
5. Rideshare driver
Signing up for a rideshare service — like Uber, Lyft or Turo — has become a top career or supplemental choice for many motorists. Yes, these kinds of jobs have garnered bad press as of late, but numerous drivers are still flocking to these companies. And you can’t blame them: flexibility, self-employment, seeing the best sights in the city and meeting all kinds of people (good and bad).
But it isn’t for everybody, because it requires better-than-average driving skills, organisation with mobile apps, basic accounting acumen and stellar customer service.
All you need is a driver’s licence, a high-functioning vehicle and a smartphone.
6. Restoration specialist
Classic cars are extremely popular right now. From the 1920s Ford Model-T to the hot rods of the 1950s to the Ferrari and Porsche models of the 1980s, a lot of auto aficionados are picking up these vehicles either as a hobby or an investment. This means there is now a high demand for restorers.
The job involves either restoring cars the way they were originally constructed and maintained, or restoring cars but installing the latest technologies and innovations which bring these cars into the modern era.
Like other technician jobs, this position requires basic high school education with specialised or on-the-job training. It also helps to understand car history, but it’s definitely a great option for car enthusiasts.
7. Assembly worker
Assembly workers perform back-breaking and repetitive laborious tasks, although the process is much smoother now because of automation — something we covered in ‘The Future of Work‘ study (PDF).
Workers in an auto factory put together automobiles, buses or trucks at specific workstations along an assembly line. They also utilise an array of tools, such as power tools, welding equipment, production fixtures and hand tools.
A high school diploma or a GED equivalency is satisfactory. Although it is a bonus to possess formal training, many assembly plants provide on-the-job training to applicants willing to learn.
8. Car wash attendant
If it pains you to see a beautiful car in a terrible state, or if you enjoy the smell of clean automobiles, then a car wash attendant might be a job for you.
The primary responsibility of a car wash attendant is to clean customers’ cars — interior and exterior — and offer sublime customer service. They may also apply wax upon the customers’ request.
There are no formal requirements to enter this profession.
9. Auto designer
What is your dream car? Well, if you’re like Homer Simpson, then you want an extremely large beverage holder, a bubble dome, a horn in every direction that plays ‘La Cucaracha’ and muzzles for the kids.
In all seriousness, being a designer in the industry is one of the most exhilarating employment opportunities because you see your vision come to life. Car designers collaborate with engineers to design functioning cars that can both attract buyers and strike a balance between affordability and environmentally friendly.
For this role, you are required to have a four-year university degree, as well as work experience.
When you have a penchant for the written word and a passion for everything cars, then you could consider a career in journalism. Whether it is for a newspaper or a professional blog, auto journalists cover press events, attend industry conferences or cover those massive expos around the world.
There are a couple of prerequisites: a university degree, communication (primarily written) skills and a portfolio of content that showcases your work.
11. Vocational teacher
Universities, colleges, and vocational and trade schools are always searching for superb instructors. With Gen Z students deciding to forego expensive four-year degrees, many of them are choosing more practical careers, including in the automobile industry.
To keep up with this demand, educational institutions are bringing on more staff to manage classrooms, teach shop and laboratory, ensure a safe learning environment and educate pupils on automotive technology. Automotive instructors will also connect students to partner with repair shops, technical support organisations and corporate training groups.
Requirements do vary in each jurisdiction, but you’ll typically need to hold a university degree, complete a student teaching internship and take state/province exams for teachers.
12. Driving instructor
There’s also another automotive teaching position that can yield high-paying wages and contribute to the future: a driving instructor.
Driving instructors teach students about the rules of the road, help student drivers learn about safe driving habits, manage theory class timings and supply students with information when an emergency situation arises. Of course, the big thing is driving with students and determining if they can pass an official government-tested exam.
Most jurisdictions mandate a high school diploma, but the major requirement is to gain an instructor’s licence, followed by sufficient training and getting some work experience.
13. Auto appraiser
Many people will connect the position of an auto appraiser with the cult classic Fight Club. It is unlikely that your typical car appraiser is engaging in underground combat or turning into a nihilist. That said, this is one of the most dependable automotive careers you could embark upon, as the role involves assessing damage to automobiles following an accident to calculate reasonable repair costs.
The role could involve working at an insurance company and travelling quite a bit, either to the scene of an accident, to a body repair shop to inspect vehicles, or to the motorist’s home to study the damage. In a world of unreliable careers, auto appraisers can enjoy job security — a scarce opportunity nowadays.
14. Automotive marketer
When you think of car brands and slogans, what comes to mind? Let’s see, there’s the Mazda ‘Zoom Zoom’ campaign, the BMW ‘Ultimate Driving Machine’ and Volkswagen’s ‘Think Small’. Marketers use clever tactics to bring focus to their company. For instance, on April Fool’s Day in 2015, Chevrolet launched their ‘#BestDayEver’ campaign, with the hashtag leading to around 1.5 billion impressions on social media.
These campaigns were all developed by automotive marketers, who are a blend of car enthusiasts and creative thinkers. In addition to slogans, it is the marketer’s job to devise marketing campaigns and sell the car to an audience.
Of course, this role has expanded beyond creating clever commercials and print advertisements. You now need to rely on search engine optimisation (SEO), social media engagement and call features on Google. It is not too different from a typical marketer who is utilising all sorts of ways to attract attention to a product.
15. Automotive engineer
Perhaps one of the most high-paying jobs in the automotive field is that of the automotive engineer. Indeed, the car industry has evolved from the days of the Model T a century ago and even the Porsche Targa from the 1980s (the best model of the Porsche ever produced, in my opinion). Today, we have cameras, Bluetooth, satellite radio and hybrid plug-in technology. Suffice it to say, becoming an automotive engineer is a great career path for car lovers and they are critical sources in the automobile manufacturing process.
What’s more, automotive engineers are constantly upgrading and updating their skills and experience, refusing to stagnate. They have to, since vehicles are adapting to market needs and innovating to lead the future.
Now, when are they developing a flying automobile? We get first dibs!
Finding a career should not be as difficult as parallel parking or keeping your cool in rush-hour traffic.
While not everyone can be like Jay Leno and have their own reality television series about their collection of vintage cars, you can still enjoy a rewarding career in the automotive industry. Whether it is underneath the hood of a BMW or in an office at Ford headquarters, there are plenty of automotive jobs to consider.
Are you a bit of a grease monkey? Which of these careers appeals to you most? Let us know in the comments.
This is an updated version of an article originally published on 6 September 2019.