I’ve always been pretty good with being able to take things apart and put them back together as well fixing things once I figure out how to properly fix them. I’ve also considered going back to school to either a) get a degree or b) trade school and learn a new trade. My dad suggested applying for the Universal Technical Institute down in Arizona to learn how to repair cars which is a good idea and I’ve considered it because I figure hey no more paying a lot of money keeping my vehicle running if I can do it myself. I’ve also considered attending a Technical College here in Nevada and they offer appliance repair courses. The guy who services my car also recomended apprenticeship programs. How many of you all started off as apprentices? I know its a good idea because you gain a lot of hands on experience and I always learn things a lot better that way.
I’m not a mechanic but I think you should talk with a good vo tec school first. They usually have a good understanding of the markets and necessary qualifications. I can’t see appliance repair as a booming field anymore since most are thrown away instead of being repaired. There are lots of good fields such as plumbing, HVAC repair, etc. but it will be best to get a good solid classroom background first in my opinion, then you can apprentice after that. Cars are too complicated now to learn on the job and I wouldn’t want someone learning on my cars.
“I can’t see appliance repair as a booming field.”
That’s probably true. Price for parts make most appliances uneconomical to repair. I agree with Bing on looking at other fields as well as automotive repair. HVAC or plumbing are well paying jobs. If you live in Nevada then I would seriously think about HVAC repair since there are millions of people there who either need their AC or heater fixed year round.
I would likewise strongly recommend a vo-tech education as an entry into whichever field you choose. And if you feel particularly interested in automobiles I would advise that you specialize in one or two particular areas Automobiles are very complicated and getting more so every day. A recent post by transman is a perfect example. He apparently rebuilds transmissions on the bench and stays quite busy, i.e. quite successful. It is impossible to be knowledgeable about all aspects of all makes and models of automobiles but it is possible to be an EXPERT at one. The technical schools advertised on television seem to offer a lot of glitter on an empty box.
At the risk of being accused of sexism, I’ll add my honest two cents. If you’re a woman, you might want to consider the workplace environment you want to end up in. Would you be happy working in an auto shop environment, where things may not be so clean and you may end up with grease permanently tattooed into parts of your body? (yes, I know some mechanics wear disposable gloves…)
And, to head off the flak, I’ll state up front that I’m a guy, and I like to do my own auto work, but the thought of working in the average auto shop all day, every day, doesn’t appeal to me, frankly because I’m a Felix Unger clean/neatnik. Now, if I could work in an auto shop that was as clean as a hospital operating room, I’d consider that…but I have yet to see an auto shop where I thought, yeah, I’d like to work here every day.
I remember seeing an episode of Undercover Boss on TV where the boss owned several home repair franchises, and she went undercover with a woman who was an appliance repair tech for one of the franchises. The woman repair tech was very good, very competent, and well like by her clients because she treated the home of each client like it was her own. The boss ended up promoting this woman because she was so impressed with her work.
I think women clients are probably more comfortable with female repair people coming into their homes than they are with men. So I think you could make yourself a nice niche as a home appliance repair tech, as the woman on this show did. And, you’re going into peoples homes, not into an auto repair shop, and if you have good communication skills and a pleasant personality, that’s a plus for you. And you’re working in a “home” environment vs a “shop” environment, which I probably would prefer. But that’s just me.
Bottom line: just be advised that there are many different work environments out there, depending on which trade/ speciality you choose. I advise becoming familiar with those environments and deciding which you would feel comfortable/ happy in, and which you would not, before making a decision. Many young people make the mistake of choosing a profession without knowing what the worj environment is like. For example, going to law school, then getting a job ina law office and finding out they hate working in a law office. Don’t make that mistake.
Definitely attend a Voc Tech. At the culmination of the programs you’ll have the knowledge, skills, and hands-on expertence (in their labs) to take the ASE exams, and that patch will be critical to landing a decent first job. And the knowledga and skills you gain willl give you an enormous advantage in the field over those without the education.
Jesmed made some interesting points. I should point out that of you choose to do appliance repair, you’re probably going to find yourself having to go into neighborhoods and even houses where you’d rather not go. Very many years ago when I was very young I applied for an appliance sales job doing followup visits. They sent me for an afternoon on visits with the rep. Some of the places we went to left me waning hazardous duty pay. Old apartment houses with halls that were an assault to the olfactory senses, people with huge barking dogs on chains, kitchens with dishes long overdue for a washing. Personally, I’d take a job in a shop over a service route any day of the week.
I think you would be far better off getting into the home HVAC world or maybe as an electrician rather than auto or appliance repair.
One thing you should do is avoid places like UTI, Wyotech, Lincoln Tech, MMI, etc. The main goal of these places is to separate you from a huge amount of tuition money (say 30 grand) while promising the world along the way.
Instructors there are making 40-50 grand a year and telling the student body that as a recent grad with no experience they will be graduating and earning in the upper 5 digits or 6 figure incomes.
What some student should do is raise their hand and ask why the allegedly knowledgeable instructor is in a classroom working for half that.
Keep in mind that a school does not make a mechanic. There has to be an inherent ability and love of nuts and bolts to do it.
Working for a franchised car dealer will present its own set of problems because unless someone has been there and done that they have no idea of the politics, utter BS, and often working for free that goes on due to gutless/clueless service managers and the always onerous warranty procedures.
Regarding ASE certification, there’s a trend away from ASE with car makers putting more reliance on their own training programs. ASE just means that someone marked enough multiple choice answers correctly to pass; not that they have any actual knowledge or ability in that area.
ASE also likes to keep all of those people coming back every few years so those re-cert fees can be collected and it’s not cheap when added up.
Getting into HVAC can be a great way to earn a living. This is likely to be an apprenticeship program. You will learn your trade from a master HVAC mechanic and eventually move up over time and become a master mechanic yourself. I used to work with a guy whose son was a master HVAC mechanic that did commercial work. He moonlighted doing home repairs. I had him do my home AC system and he really know his stuff. I rented my first house for a while after I moved out. Someone did unauthorized repairs and really screwed the system up. He fixed the lousy rewiring job in an hour and all was well again. If you can learn this trade well enough, you will be in high demand in Las Vegas. I don’t know how close you are, but you can make a lot of money doing commercial work in a place with that much going on.
There are careers, jobs and hobbies.
If you tinker with things as a hobby, can you REALLY see yourself doing it for a living? Long trips to repair things in other people’s homes while their kids are screaming and throwing things at each other.You may or may not have someone in the vehicle with you on your trips, so can you handle long, boring road trips by yourself for several hours each day? Because that’s the life of a repairman.
I had the opportunity to ride along with a Sears repairman for a day and can safely say that it gave me new found respect for those guys. Wouldn’t want their job, though.
There is a lot of good advice above, especially the parts about specializing (just like a doctor) and choosing a VoTech instead of an EXPENSIVE school which may or may not be as good. Check out VoTechs in your area. They will be far cheaper.
I’m a steamfitter in southern wisconsin. ( a steamfitter is a glorified hvac tech in a union) It has been a rewarding career for me because of the varied daily routine. The yearly income varies from $75000 to $100000 a year. (before deductions) A go getter can make a lot more if willing to take more than his share of on call duty. The down side is having to do on call duty which can easily turn into 70 to 90 hours a week. And you could very easily spend a long dark January night on the roof of a big box store with 20 mph winds at -20 degrees. I still feel sorry for people in a cube farm shuffling papers and wouldn’t give it up for anything. And the field is starting to scramble for smart motivated young people to replace broken down oldtimers like me. Once a guy gets his card he can go anywhere in the US and make decent money. I would not recommend anyone go into the electrician field. Everytime there is a slump in new construction the bench is loaded with unemployed guys. I know a couple that haven’t worked in four years. The service business hours are far more steady.
If you want to go to school for automotive, I recommend against the heavily advertised tech schools like UTI. They are extremely expensive and you don’t learn much there that can be applied to the real world, and the hype over technicians being in very high demand and earning high five to low six figures is a load of BS as well. There is also the issue with specialty tools. It is very easy to spend half your annual income on basic hand tools and specialty tools for use in a general repair shop your first year, and still need a whole lot more (the automakers are always coming out with new and exciting things that require a very specific tool that previously didn’t exist to service it). Also, that annual income probably won’t be all that great. Let me put it this way: I didn’t see a four figure paycheck until after I left the automotive field. Now I see one 26 times a year. And I work in a factory, fixing machines that require little more than standard combination wrenches and Allen wrenches to repair, and the factory replaces any tools I break or wear out fixing their machines. I love working on cars, but can’t afford to deal with the tool bills and the low pay.
My nephew is an auto mechanic and his best jobs have been when the shop owner or a senior mechanic became a mentor to him - like a master mechanic/apprentice relationship. If you want to become an auto mechanic, find a shop where you can be like an apprentice to a senior mechanic. You will learn your trade more quickly, and can find good and steady work even if your mentor moves from time to time. My nephew is young and impulsive and hasn’t made best use of one mechanic that likes him a lot. But you seem mature enough that this would not be an issue for you.
Plumbing or electrical if you want to be independent some day before 2100 AD. You will never be independent in the auto field unless your family owns a stealership. Appliance maybe.
I’m going to go where no one else has. With the world being computerized now days why not learn computer repair? It’s a field where there’s plenty of work. For home models and small business repairs have them bring the computer to you for repair to avoid dangerous areas. For larger corporations, and large office settings the environment likely be clean and in safer areas, therefore you could make service calls.
The most important thing is to see what people around you need. HVAC, plumbing, car repair, or other trades might be great someplace, but do people really need them where you are, or where you want to be? As I mentioned before, HVAC could be a fabulous career in Las Vegas, but if you aren’t nearby or don’t want to live there, HVAC may not be a good career move for you.
Commercial and industrial HVAC is a growing and well paid occupation. It’s also a lot cleaner than car mechanics. But stay in school; ypou need the academic background to train for this.
If you decide to get training in a trade, do yourself a favor and don’t go to a private school. Their job placement promises can be hollow, and there would be nothing you can do about it. You’d be better off learning a trade at a community college, where the prices are reasonable and financial aid might be available. A private school is more likely to leave you with a lot of student loan debt.
Have to disagree with that about “Private School”. Now if you mean one of the Colleges for Profit…then I completely agree. But there are plenty of good quality private trade colleges that offer an excellent education and have a very high hiring rate…MUCH HIGHER then community colleges.
My nephew went to a 4-year tech college in upstate NY. Studied HVAC. Has a BS (not exactly what the major was). After graduation went to work for Carrier Air conditioning as a HVAC test engineer. After 3 years he left and is now working at a company installing commercial HVAC systems.
As a retired school counselor with 35 years of experience in the field of post-high school education, I want to echo what ok4450, B. Moonshine, and others have said–namely to AVOID any of the for-profit careeer schools. These places are incredibly expensive, have job placement rates that are…not good, and actually don’t even provide training that is up to date.
Instead, your county vo-tech or your local community college is far preferable, for many reasons–primarily cost. If you are interested in auto mechanic training, many community colleges are now affiliated with major auto manufacturers and feature the latest equipment and tools, and have late-model cars to work on–all provided by the mfr.
In these “affiliated” programs, the student attends classes part-time while simultaneously working part-time (for an hourly wage) at a dealership. As you progress through your classes, your responsibilities at the dealership increase proportionately. While you would probably start off your part-time job by washing cars and doing other unskilled tasks, each additional course that you complete means that you are qualified to do work at the dealership related to that course.
By the time that you graduate, you will have earned some decent money, gotten practical experience on the job, and have received excellent training at a very reasonable price. In most cases, you are automatically placed in a job at a dealership at the conclusion of your training. None of this can be matched by the for-profit schools.