11 In their own words
My Career Path
1. How did you get started in this job?
When I was 13 years old, I knew I wanted to be a mechanic like my dad. The day after I finished high school, I started my apprenticeship.
2. If you knew then what you know now, would you have done anything differently?
No. It's a good job, although not as easy as it used to be. It makes you feel good when you fix something.
3. What would you say to someone starting out in this career today?
People nowadays perceive their vehicles as an investment and they are anxious when their car is not available. You need good communication skills to deal with that pressure. Also, cars and trucks are a lot more complicated than they used to be. The work can also be pretty hard on your body and you need to be able to handle that.
4. Where do you see yourself going with this job in the future?
I'll keep going until I can't keep going. I take courses to keep up with the changes, but it's getting so vehicles can't be fixed and people end up buying something new.
5. What are some of the main forces of change in the industry right now? How will those affect you?
The biggest change in this industry is the high level of technology in engines and components. It's expensive to keep up with the courses, but we do it so we can troubleshoot like the rest of them. We can then see a higher volume of cars and trucks, although for a few years we might not see any of these high-tech vehicles in our small, rural shop.
A typical workday
||I might see up to 20 vehicles in a day. Some are scheduled ahead of time and some are drop-ins. I get started right away on a brake job. I replace the pads and notice that the seals are leaking. Afterwards, I write it up for the desk so the customer can pay as soon as he picks the truck up.
||The next truck has a seized calliper and broken flex hose. While I fix those, a customer drops by to ask about her front door that won't open. I take a look and notice a small screw has come loose and is jamming the mechanism. This is a quick job.
||I diagnose an engine problem and call the customer to give him a quote. I let him know that I can't fix it for two days, until the part arrives. That's the way it goes sometimes.
||Looks like I may be here a couple more hours with a job that's just not working out. My schedule is running a bit behind so I'll work late to try to catch up. Even though I write up the work for the front desk, a lot of the customers want to talk with me directly. That's why I'm running late today.