What do you want to be when you grow up? If you answered, "mechanic," you're in the minority. But that could be a good thing for your chances of getting a job. As USA Today points out, a shortage of mechanics and an increase in the complexity of today's cars means there's big demand for wrenchers.

Kids today are more likely to grow up playing video games and chatting with friends online than they are to tinker with their cars. That means the nation's auto repair workforce is getting grayer and moving toward retirement with fewer replacements being trained.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says demand for auto mechanics will increase 17 percent by 2020, adding 124,800 jobs. The Bureau's last set of data, from 2010, shows mechanics earn an average of about $36,000, but 10 percent earned more than $59k. Numbers like that suggest that what few trained mechanics are produced every year are being snatched up as soon as they graduate.

Add in the complexities of new cars like hybrids, EVs and clean diesels, and the number of qualified applicants gets even smaller.

Many high schools have dropped auto repair programs, citing less interest and greater cost in the high-tech equipment now required. But automakers are teaming with educators to encourage interest in car repair careers, hoping to head off a looming crisis. The average age of mechanics at General Motors, Ford and Chrysler dealerships is in the low 40s, and many of the most knowledgeable will be retiring soon.

Scroll down to watch a USA Today video report on the growing conundrum.



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  • 109 Comments
      Caladbolg
      • 2 Years Ago
      My father was an auto mechanic for 15 or so years before he finally moved on to larger engines (oil rigs and whatnot) and this is exactly why. Engines were becoming more and more complex and he wasn't get paid any extra to support the family. It's the exact same reason that, while I've been taught how to fix cars and enjoy doing it, I'll never consider it for a job. You're hanging over a car with zero arm room, getting hot, sweaty, greasy and cut up for chicken feed while the company charges triple your wage if not more for the work you're doing. Mechanics deserve a hell of a lot more credit and pay than they get, or at the very least, better working conditions.
      dirtymcfuc
      • 2 Years Ago
      It's actually a very simple problem. There is a great demand for techs because they get treated like **** and don't get paid nearly enough! I got in the industry for a few years and naïvely assumed that due to the difficulty of the job you would get compensated accordingly. HELL NO you don't. For all of the knowledge, skill, and financial investment in tools required, 60k per year should be the average, not the top 10% There's a shortage because anyone who's actually capable of being a great mechanic is smart enough to realize it's a **** career and leaves the industry. I just left the industry, probably the best decision I've made in my entire life.
        Zachary
        • 2 Years Ago
        @dirtymcfuc
        This was my experience exactly. I am in the midwest and most places expect you to bring your own equipment, benefits are pretty sad, and customers think you are ripping them off when a part is pricey. I am going back to school for computer networking where 45-50k is pretty easy to get starting, in an air conditioned building no less, while my friend sticks with about 30k wrenching on cars in a hot garage after several years of experience.
        Gator
        • 2 Years Ago
        @dirtymcfuc
        You could not be more right. It's a joke what techs get paid for the skill they posses.
      Leather Bear
      • 2 Years Ago
      Most public school auto shop classes are in a really a sad state these days. A close friend of mine teaches the auto shop for a large high school in a small town east of Los Angeles. The district admin keeps cutting his budget every year and they recently reclassified the auto shop away from a technology course to an ROP (Regional Occupation Program) course; the district gets more state funds that way. The result is that he has now has mostly delinquents from "juvie" and some "special needs" kids dumped into the auto shop that he baby-sits more than teaches these days. The formerly-interested motorhead kids are reluctant to enroll in auto shop because of the stigma now attached to the shop classes. My friend is so discouraged, he's close to taking an early retirement and moving on to something else.
      Termin8
      • 2 Years Ago
      Having a shortage of automotive techs is not news. We (the industry) have been concerned about this issue for a LONG time. Regardless of what some here seem to think, there are no easy fixes. This country has long since abandoned the trade industry. Anyone who even thinks of suggesting to their parents that they wish to go to a trade school instead of college it immediately told why that would be a terrible idea. People who work with their hands have been disenfranchised for a long time, regardless of the fact that this group of people literally BUILT this country. As long as this country continues the death slide away from manufacturing, and toward the service industry, we have little hope of regaining our once proud status of leaders of the world. We have become little more than fat, lazy people who must pay someone to do virtually everything for them, since they have long since lost the necessary skills to support themselves. As an ex-Navy aviation machinist's mate, ex-ASE Master Tech, ex-GM Master Tech, woodworker, metalsmith, and avid DIY'r, I can say that I feel sad to see so few people who truly value the skills that myself and others like me have spent our lives acquiring. So sad to see how helpless so many of us really are.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Termin8
        [blocked]
          Termin8
          • 2 Years Ago
          Dude you need to open your eyes and see that the problem is far greater than you think. Bottom line, most people think auto mechanics are dim-witted grease monkeys. Unfortunately, many are, which only helps to promote the stereotype. Many years ago, when electronics started expending it's prominence in motor vehicles, the days of the typical auto mechanic were numbered. No longer could damn near anyone successfully diagnose, repair and/or tune a car. Those guys are still around but, are largely responsible for the dark underbelly of the trade. These guys are parts swappers at best, and crooked hacks at worst. Unfortunately, the general public lumps them in with all the rest of us, which seriously hampers our credibility. Add to that the fact that most people gravitate to those hacks due to the need to have their cars repaired as cheaply as possible. Would be great if the average Joe understood the difference between these hacks and a true technician but, overall they generally don't and I'm not sure they even care. Then, on top of that, unless things have changed since I got out of the business, most dealership mechanics belong to a union which only serves to increase the dealership owner's overhead, and force them to squeeze the mechanic in order to try to maintain a decent profit margin. There's more issues too and this list could go on and on. Like I said, there's no easy fixes here. In the end, it is a problem that will probably fix itself by simply causing the OEMs to limit the industries need for mechanics. Hmm, kind of like what's been happening, huh?
          average77
          • 2 Years Ago
          I'm a black female and I agree with you (you can only guess what I'm thinking). Being equal doesn't mean keeping someone else down for whatever reason, we all need to eat and keep things going. Anyway, I prefer the hands on work and I'm late (I'm 34) getting into the auto thing, but I have been doing my own tune ups for years.
      Les Foster
      • 2 Years Ago
      This industry has long since gone downhill. I've been a technician for dealerships for the past 5 years and I've worked 2 jobs (and the occasional side job) for about 3 years. It's not a fun thing to think of anymore. I don't see myself making it in this industry any longer and in the next 2 months, I won't be in this industry anymore. Having spent 35k plus on tools and schooling, I realized it'll be a long time before I see a return on my investment. A lot of my friends who are technicians are considering getting out of the industry as well. Just as everyone has said, the hours are long and the pay just isnt there. Warranty rates are going down, the door prices are going up, customers pay more for the car in the first place and almost always purchase an extended warranty that'll either pay manufacturer warranty or very less than alldata if they can. Most customers won't pay for any maintenance in the first place either. They just want the oil changed and everything else can be ignored to them. Never mind the brakes are almost done or the drive belts have huge cracks in them. If they do take care of things like that, it's at a pep boys or Goodyear and a lot of times autozone parts that won't last worth a ****.
      JDam4131
      • 2 Years Ago
      There are a lot of aircraft mechanics looking for jobs that would make great skilled auto mechanics
        Termin8
        • 2 Years Ago
        @JDam4131
        As someone who was trained in both fields I'd say you're probably right.
      Cruising
      • 2 Years Ago
      I feel the interstrest is there just the products are no longer being designed for someone to DIY anymore. Many of my buddies still prefer tinkering and repairing cars from the 90s.
        Generic
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Cruising
        It's because 90s cars were easier to work on. More importantly ODB1 scanners and software is dirt cheap compared to the newer stuff. Less catalytic converters, a sea of salvage yards to pick from. I rather have a fixed up fiero GT with a SCed 3800 engine with some basic mods over BRZ/FRS. Just about all my dream cars need custom building. A wrangler with a diesel transplant. The way modern cars are made today, they are much harder to work on. Mainly all those snapped together plastic joints. Can't even change a stereo with a screwdriver anymore.
      alfredschrader
      • 2 Years Ago
      I've repaired everything, cars, lawn mowers, tv sets, stereos, you name it. There was always one thing I could never over come. After I got the junk fixed, they were never really happy. they didn't want the junk back even though I had fixed it perfectly, they wanted a new one.
      username10
      • 2 Years Ago
      I remember when they cut the wood shop and auto mechanic classes from my old high school, I thought who will work in construction and build things and who will work on automobiles in 20 years. Well it's 20 years later and I read this article. I guess some how the people who cut these programs thought it wouldn't matter.
      gaglianofamilytr
      • 2 Years Ago
      I have read several comments, I am an ASE Master Technition, I was a Cadillac Master Mechanic. When I left my job shop rate was $115.00 per flate rate hour for general repairs, I made a whopping $22.90 per flat rate hour.
      silverwolfdadtreece
      • 2 Years Ago
      If you think mechanics get half of the rate you must still be living back in the sixties. That is what they got back then. Today many of them are probably starting out a minimum wage.
      mrwarran
      • 2 Years Ago
      im 50 years old and have been working on cars for 35 of those years i worked for dodge for 17 years. the industry will take everything you have it will eat you up and spit you out. im not saying its all bad if you have a hourly job it can be really good, but if you work flag time ( thats where you get screwed.) with no reach around or kiss after words. and then there is as some one put it the pre-modonnas i have work with lots of them.way to many to count. service that lie to you and say you can be replaced in a minute, to that i say try it!!!!fixs! we who have been doing this for years have seen it all. we have a been there done that. and just because you have a ase patch still doesnt mean you can s---
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