Teen looking to get into auto repair


I read this thread on the train home last night and I must say that this is probably the most encouraging, enlightening conversation I have witnessed in a long time. I wish I had advice like this when I was starting out. And kudos to the original poster for raising a hand to ask.


My father retired from Grumman Aerospace at age 60 rather than be promoted to management (he was an engineer). He was a brilliant engineer, he probably would have made a poor manager. Then again, he made a number of poor decisions later in life and not staying at Grumman 5 more years a getting a much better pension was one of them.


Ah…the days of pensions! Very few if any companies offer them anymore.


My lifetime defined benefit pension plan with built-in COLAs and 100% survivor benefits was certainly something I sought out when I started my final career. I considered it part of my pay/benefit package. Without it I would have expected much more pay as compensation.

It seems there are still pension plans available, but many have now gone to a defined contribution plan which is more a company aided savings program.

The absolute best pension plan is Social Security retirement benefit plan, especially if one waits at least to full retirement age to collect, and a very sweet deal if one waits until age 70, as I did. It was well worth the wait, probably the smartest or second smartest thing I’ve ever done. It’s actually a lifetime annuity with COLAs and lifetime survivor benefits.

A teen looking to get into auto repair, like our friend @ mybeats123_146831, probably isn’t thinking too much about retiring, but probably should be. It seemed like an eternity away when I was a teen and now I’m there.

When I worked for a car dealer the health care benefits and free tuition for any classes in which one achieves a grade of “C” or better were provided by a caring dealer owner/principal. I wonder if perhaps some dealers are still providing some nice perks? It would be something to consider for one beginning a career.


Yeah, and Google doesn’t want humans to figure out what all the data it’s collecting means because “AI” is so much cooler. But that’s dumb.

I looked up the tow rating of a pickup truck to help answer a question on here. Must’ve been more than 6 months ago now. Because I searched using the term “tow,” Google now sends me every article it finds with the keyword “tow” in it. If a small town in Alabama passes a new ordinance related to tow trucks, and the local paper does a story on it, it shows up in my feed.

Automation is neat, but it’s not anywhere near perfect, and won’t be until real AI exists (at which point we’re going to have other problems involving having created and enslaved intelligent, sentient entities).

Mechanics relying solely on computers to tell them what to do is bad on a number of levels, not the least being that mechanics need to use their own brains from time to time lest they lose the ability. From a customer standpoint, not being able to get things fixed because the computer didn’t tell you exactly what to do and you are therefore completely lost is frustrating and makes me leave your shop and find someone who knows how to think.


Dave: "Open the pod bay doors, HAL."
HAL: "I’m afraid I can’t do that, Dave."



Very few…especially with high-tech companies. As for company aided…again extremely rare. Most are 401k plans WITHOUT any company matching contribution.

That and the fact that the average high-tech worker stays 3.5 years with one company.


I have nothing new to add and have never been accused of not being a smart alack, but yeah, military is a good training ground. You learn leadership, discipline, following instructions, respect, and so on. Builds character if nothing else.

I was trained in teletype repair. (Of course there aren’t any around anymore like typewriters.) The instructors made a big deal out telling how great the job market was in the field after the training. Of course most of us already had engineering or other degrees and were more interested in just getting out than jobs fixing teletypes. At any rate it was good training and if that’s what you wanted to do, jobs were out there for folks with military training.

Of course only about 30% now can qualify due to physical conditions, prior arrests, and so on, but its a good option if you can stay out of the line of fire.


Tell me about it. My current job used to have a pension, though I believe the smallest one possible by law. We ended the pension plan 5 or 10 years ago and the money was put into 401K plans and I think we ended up even worse off.


The 30% is a 29% higher then the percentage of people who want to join - so no big deal.

Now if we get into another major war and have to reinstitute the draft, then many requirements we have today go away. Physical aliments like “Bone Spurs” will no longer keep you from active service, unless your daddy is a millionaire. I was in the Army with a couple ex-highschool football players who had torn ACL’s. They thought that not getting it fixed would keep them out of the draft…NOPE…First day in the Army was at an Army hospital. Fixed their ACL, then recouped for a few months before they started basic training.


It looks like you are getting some good real world advice here. I don’t think I have anything to add except one thing… Location. Sure you could learn this trade anywhere in the country, but some areas are much better and or more immersive than others. The West Coast is basically the place to be when it comes to the automotive world in both opportunities to learn and in terms of car culture. Any kind of mechanical wonder you are into will be en force out there. There are more people to meet and more opportunities to immerse yourself in this field. If you are or want to be into cars etc… It helps greatly to be in the right place.


The last defined benefit retirement plan I had was terminated in 1986 and replaced with a defined contribution plan. I’m getting the princely sum of $300/month now from that pension. Good thing I’m still working and contributing to my defined contribution program 32 years and seven jobs later. Well, two jobs and seven employers later. I’ve made an excellent retirement for us by contributing the max and investing in stocks, all stocks, and nothing but stocks. Now that I’m five or so years away from retiring, I’m starting to diversify. How can I stand that kind of volatility? I share something in common with Alfred E. Neuman: What me worry?


I’ve had multiple jobs over the years (just the nature of Engineering). Been contributing to my own retirement (first IRA’s and 401k and during my consulting years SIP). I had worked for Digital Equipment for about 10 years and will draw about a $350/month pension through Fidelity. Everything else is in my own plan.

The problem with some earlier 401k plans is that the only a company offered was to buy more stock into the company. Many people thought this was GREAT. Then you get greedy companies like Tyco. I have a 72yo engineer who works for me because he was all set to retire from Tyco when everything went south and he lost EVERYTHING. He can’t retire for several more years. Thankfully laws were passed to prevent that from happening again.

And then there’s the pension plans that were unprotected. Many companies in this country were bought for the only purpose to raid their BILLION DOLLAR pension plan. Again thankfully laws were passed to prevent that from happening again.


A great thread for anyone considering the automotive field and kudos to the original poster for asking and the responders for their great advice.

To summarize:
The Community College, Public Vo-Tech or Military route will all provide the most most cost effective route and provide the best training while allowing the time and experience to decide if this is truly the career you want to commit to.
And if for whatever reason you decide that automotive repair isn’t for you, your time, expense and experience will be transferable so it not only won’t be wasted but may be beneficial in your new chosen field.


With all respect, I disagree with this part of what you said.

The short version of my reason is that you should never choose a career based on what the training is like, because working in the field seldom bears any resemblance to the training, unless you want to become a teacher.

The long version is that this goes for anything, not just auto repair, including college. The classroom is no place to explore a career. The place to explore a career is in the field, shadowing someone who is doing the job you want. Talk to someone who does what you’re thinking about doing to find out what the job is like, not someone whose job is to educate you, if you want to see what life will be like doing the job.

Having said that, the better public schools, particularly community colleges and universities, have career centers where you can participate in an assessment that helps determine what jobs are a good fit for your personality, but I wouldn’t solely rely on those. Their recommendations could sometimes use some scrutiny.


That’s tough for many jobs…especially in the tech field. You can in closely related fields. But more difficult to do if you decide to get a degree in Computer Science and then want to become a Mechanical engineer. Need a lot more schooling to switch careers like that. You’ll have to take a more classes to become a teacher because of the teaching certificate requirements in many states. You can have a PHD in Mathematics and be the BEST mathematician on the planet, but you won’t be able to teach at the High-school level in many states without that teaching certificate.


I’m willing to bet that, if you were to contact the IT Department at a college or university, someone there would help you learn what it’s like to work in the field, especially if they’re willing to use federal grants for their work/study program.

Using technology professions as an example, I happen to know of two public universities that employ students in their IT departments, and at the School of Computing where I used to work, it’s difficult to graduate without working an internship. The only way to waive the internship requirement at the undergraduate level is to have actual work experience.


Northeaster University in Boston has everyone do stints in jobs as part of getting engineering degrees. That’s a good way to go.

I do think one can learn from education if you hate the chosen field. Like here, if somebody enrolls in a car tech program and finds out they don’t like/don’t get how to do the work.


Actually, Northeastern U. requires students in all of their majors to hold a Cooperative Education position as part of their degree requirements. IIRC, students put in the equivalent of one year at their Co-Op jobs by alternating semesters of school and employment. And, they are paid for that employment, in addition to getting practical experience that they can put on their resume/CV.


I agree with you, the reality of a career is often very different from what’s taught and any guidance, especially from people currently in the field, can be helpful but the problem for most high school teenagers though is simply accessing any career guidance.
For the fortunate few maybe friends and family who can fill some of the gap but it’s going to be hit or miss. “Do I know a mechanic who would be able and willing to sit down with my kid, explain or demonstrate the reality of the job and/or provide related alternatives?”

With Public education cuts and high school counselors expected to address all of society’s ills, Career Counseling and meaningful Internships seems to have fallen to Career Counselors at Community Colleges, 4 Year Colleges and the Military all of whom have a vested interest in the results and therefor do a pretty good job of it

I’m reminded of the young lad who told his Career Counselor he “enjoyed being outdoors and working with his hands”, to which she replied, “So why in G-d’s Name are you a Pre-Law major!?”

He’s now a very happy oil company Geologist, something a kid from an East Coast city would have ever even considered.