A successful automotive technology professional needs skills that go beyond identifying the cause of a ping, thump, or ticking noise under the hood. In addition to technical mastery, a skillful auto expert has the ability to accurately analyze the situation and be up on the latest tech that makes cars go, all the while putting the customer at ease.
Here are four skills that an automotive tech should have at the ready.
1. Hands-on abilities
This is every automotive technician’s bread and butter. They need to be intimately familiar with the makes and models they work on, and be prepared to inspect, repair, and maintain them. A daily routine may include tune-ups, ignition tests, brake component replacements, engine rebuilds, fuel system flushing, and monitoring emissions.
The inner workings of all these vehicles have become significantly more complex in recent years, which spurred on a new name for this position. What was commonly referred to as a “mechanic” is now called a “technician,” since this role now requires a high comfort level with robust electrical and computer systems, as well as diagnostic equipment. These more modern talents work in tandem with hand-eye coordination, manual dexterity, and soft skills, such as the ability to be part of a team.
2. Analytical skills
The modern technician is a superhero-level problem solver, trained in diagnostic and analytical skills that draw on a background in science, technology, engineering, and math.
They use critical thinking skills every day to work out all kinds of complex problems and make cause-and-effect connections between symptoms and their root causes. They bring together seemingly disparate strands of data to form a complete picture of a vehicle’s current and future state.
3. Customer service
Engaging in clear, friendly communication is essential for any automotive technology professional. In addition to being the right thing to do, it’s simply good business. A car is an extension of a person’s daily life and livelihood, so owners have a real stake in putting resources towards its continued well-being. As such, they want to know that their money is going to a technician whom they can trust and who explains things in a way that puts them at ease.
Just as a nurse or doctor needs to carefully explain complex medical diagnoses and treatments to a patient, an automotive tech must frame a vehicle’s problem in real-world language that manages the customer’s expectations and prepares them for the road ahead.
4. Tech wizardry
Every tech needs to know a torque wrench from a wrecking bar, but that’s just the beginning. They also need to be fluent in the latest technology that powers advanced diagnostics systems and repairs. Automotive tech education programs have become increasingly focused on this area of expertise, moving beyond basic diagnosis into algorithms and computer logic.
Here are some examples that show why knowledge of technology is critical:
- The engine control unit relies on hundreds of microprocessors to keep systems like cylinder deactivation and airflow management running smoothly.
- Safety is now a shared job between driver and on-board, with airbags, seatbelts, cruise control, and lane change warnings all playing a vital role in keeping every passenger out of harm’s way.
- Today's cars all employ computer area network (CAN) bus systems allowing multiple vehicle components and systems to communicate with each other at nearly the speed of light. In a new Mercedes-Benz, you will find seven separate CAN buses, dozens of LIN buses, and a FlexRay network.
Those who can master these new skills will ride the auto repair wave of the future; those who ignore them risk being left behind.
Vocational education provides essential skills
A vocational education focuses on these skills and more in order to provide you with the tools you need for a successful career in automotive technology. Learn more about the impact this education can have on your career in our FutureTech Roadmap guide.
Information provided by TechForce Foundation