Regardless of swings in the economy, one constant is the need for quality transportation. People will always have to get from point A to point B, and although you might find peaks in train, bus and subway travel during lean times it won’t significantly impact the automotive industry. People will always buy new and used cars, and the vehicles that remain on the roads must have professional maintenance to avoid breaking down. That makes a career in the automotive industry one of the most dependable you will find. There are many directions to take, depending on your skills and preference. But you should always consider longevity and financial stability when picking your path. Here are five of the top careers in the automotive industry you could pursue if so inclined.
The most lucrative position in this field is probably in the world of motor vehicle manufacture. At the top end of the spectrum are the designers and engineers. If you have the education and the drive you could find yourself designing new vehicles, or working as part of a team to improve and perfect current models. All of the major brands have their own manufacturing departments, with factories and assembly lines across the world. Even at the lowest rung on the ladder, as a worker in the manufacturing department you can expect to make more than $25 an hour. You’ll also have solid benefits and a dependable pension plan, thanks to membership in one of the labor unions.
Another high paying job in the automotive industry is working in sales, interacting with corporate and private customers at a dealership. A background in sales and marketing is crucial, and a degree in business or communications can certainly help you greatly. But you can work your way up to the sales floor with only a high school diploma if you are dedicated and skilled. The average pay is around $18 an hour, but you can make much more if you specialize in luxury brands or classic cars.
Speaking of classic cars, you can also do quite well if you work in a shop that restores classic vehicles. This is a specialized mechanical job, so you’ll need a significant amount of experience to enter into this sort of position. But you’ll find no shortage of collectors out there who are passionate about vehicles that are no longer being manufactured. These classic cars need a lot of attention, and often require hunting down difficult to find parts or even manufacturing parts when needed to precise specifications. You’ll earn upwards of $20 an hour doing this work, but it could be much more if you own your own shop.
One career that’s quite different than these but fills a core need is working as an automotive journalist. This is a crossover career between the automotive and media industries, but you’ll work with brand new vehicles in an intimate way. If you can catch on with one of the prestigious car magazines or websites you’ll be well compensated to test drive new models and report your findings. There are many times a new car’s reputation could rely on your reporting, and if you’re a car lover there may be no better job on the planet.
Well, actually there is one. The pinnacle of the automotive industry may very well be a career as a race car driver. The world of competitive driving is no cakewalk. There are many people that never receive any sort of recognition, and you’ll be in for a grueling training regimen, constant travel, the need to have a towing company on speed dial and the threat of death in every race. But if you rise in FormulaOne or NASCAR there’s the opportunity for sponsorships, fame, and a seven-figure income.