The technician shortage grows worse by the day and is projected to result in over 640,000 unfilled auto tech positions by 2024. New techs are simply not joining the industry as fast as older techs are retiring. On top of that, established technicians are leaving the industry due to longstanding problems left unsolved by auto shop owners, making the problem that much worse.
Ultimately, it’s up to auto repair shop owners to come together to solve those grievances and keep the top talent in the industry. Otherwise, many shops may go under simply due to their inability to find skilled techs at every level.
Wondering just what’s keeping auto repair techs from joining and staying in the industry? Here’s a look at the top five reasons automotive technicians are leaving the field.
1. Automotive Technology Advancements
When it comes to technological advancements, the automotive world is moving forward at a dizzying pace. Advanced driver assistance systems. 360-degree cameras. Automatic emergency braking. You name it, and modern cars have it—complete with parts bound to malfunction, if not outright fail.
To perform all the repairs, auto techs must keep up with all that tech, resulting in hours upon hours of training courses, workshops, and conferences. If their auto shop doesn’t pay for all that extra training—paid time off included—they’re out of luck in keeping up with the industry. So naturally, technology is undoubtedly a factor driving auto techs out of the industry and toward simpler, or at least better-supported, careers.
2. Inadequate Compensation Packages
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wage for automotive service technicians and mechanics is just $46,880 a year, or $22.54 per hour. Benefits packages are equally dismal, resulting in relatively high healthcare expenses, low retirement savings, and minimal perks to offset monthly expenses.
Despite the low median pay rate, auto techs have to pay for their tools, including expensive scanners and other high-tech equipment. All that can add up to a departure from the field just to ensure they can adequately support themselves and their families without having to work a second job.
3. Lack of Career Growth Opportunities
A career should never feel stagnant, but there are limited growth opportunities for auto technicians. Many techs may feel like they’ve already hit a ceiling of job titles and responsibilities, giving them nowhere else to go with their careers.
An overall lack of training plans for auto techs can complicate matters further. Auto shop owners rarely offer ongoing training to their techs or help them create a path forward with concrete objectives and incentives for completing their goals.
Without those motivators, auto repair technicians may fail to see a way to keep pushing their careers to the next level without leaving the industry altogether.
4. Overall Physical Demands of the Job
Auto repair is a physically demanding field that can take a serious toll on the body. Repairing a car often requires bending, stooping, lifting heavy objects, fitting in tight quarters, and working in uncomfortable positions for hours at a time.
Even the best-kept auto repair shops have occupational hazards around every corner, too, including the risk of:
- Chemical burns
- Eye injuries
- Limb or digit loss
- Slips and falls
- Strains, sprains, and tears
Repetitive motion injuries are common as well, especially when turning wrenches by hand instead of using air or power tools.
Over time, auto repair techs may feel like the physical demands of the job are not worth the pay, benefits, and career growth opportunities offered in the automotive industry.
5. Unpleasant Work Environment
Auto repair shop environments vary, but many techs find their work environments unpleasant and stressful. They may work long hours, deal with difficult customers and coworkers, and have to stay productive in poorly ventilated or unsafe conditions, just to name a few things. Their work-life balance may also suffer, resulting in a desire to do something else with their time.
Working in an unpleasant work environment must feel worthwhile, or auto repair techs may seek better conditions. To do that, they’re likely to seek jobs outside the automotive industry rather than search high and low for a safer, cleaner, and more pleasant shop.
Help Us Explore What’s Driving Auto Repair Techs Away
Every technician is different, of course, so it’s wise to note why each person decides to leave the field. Only with that data in hand can you truly see why they’re leaving and create a plan to make your auto repair shop a gratifying place to work. That’s why our team at AutoFix Auto Shop Coaching decided to track and measure what’s driving auto repair techs away from the industry.
To help with that mission, please consider filling out our online form if you have any auto techs leaving the industry. Also, consider sharing the form with other auto shop owners facing the same situation. Your participation is deeply appreciated as we all work together to resolve the technician shortage once and for all.
As that data comes in, it will paint a picture of what’s causing auto techs to pursue a different career path. After that, we’ll circle back and provide a full report on the findings and then let you know our ideas on how to boost your auto techs’ job satisfaction across the board.
If you’d like to partner with Chris Cotton and our team at AutoFix Auto Shop Coaching, start the conversation with a call to (940) 400-1008. You’re also welcome to complete our callback request form, and we’ll get back to you ASAP.