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Old 05-05-2010, 10:28 AM   #1
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Career options.

So I'm seventeen about to finish my junior year. I love cars and I'm 100% sure I want to be a mechanic. I've looked at the UTI website and it looks decent but other than that I have no where to start. I can't decide if I want to be a mechanic for a big dealer like ford or start my own garage or even start maybe my own jeep specialty garage. Does anyone have advice/statistics/tips to help get me started. I want a well paying job where i can live comfortably without killing myself.

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Old 05-05-2010, 10:38 AM   #2
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I started as a mechanic, certified in brakes and troubleshooting. Then moved into small engines (certified in tecumseh, kohler & briggs) and eventually managed my own shop. Learned a ton about business and started my own computer store in 2001 after getting my Cisco Systems Certified Network Pro (CCNP). My wife runs the store now and is doing great! Im still a Sr. Engineer specializing in Enterprise Networking, helping her and Im full time as an IT Officer at a local bank.

No matter what you decide to do, great customer service is key. Thats my advice, your customer relationships are more important than anything. Once they like you personally, they will be your client forever. Even if you need to stand there and listen to fishing stories for an hour, sometimes that is what it takes to win over a new client.

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Old 05-05-2010, 10:40 AM   #3
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Sounds amazing man. Any tips on how I should get started?
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Old 05-05-2010, 06:34 PM   #4
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I can't give you much advice as I'm not, have never been, and probably never will become a mechanic...I break too much of my own stuff to be working on other people's vehicles. lol

However... a friend of mine just took over his grandpa's auto shop. He's doing what he enjoys doing and I think he still enjoys the work...but he also is far from rich (he's just barely making ends meet) and he's working 12 hour days 5-6 days a week. If that's your dream...go for it...if you don't like it, you can always change the direction of your career path.

Also, as sevenservices mentioned, customer service is the most important aspect of a business...with speed and quality/reliability of service following right behind....my buddy and I opened up a computer shop together shortly after we graduated highschool (we both had gone to vocational school specializing in IT). We ended having some major disagreements and I opted to walk away from it in order to retain our friendship, but he's still open and doing well after nearly 4 years.

I still do computer work on the side and most of my friends who bring it to me instead of him say the same thing... he's always "too busy" to fit them in, in a timely manner (even when they're paying the same price as any other customer) and they love dealing with me over him as far as our personality's go. I'm always helpful, if they don't understand what I'm explaining, I will go out of my way to help explain it so they understand and if they're tight on money...I will work out a deal with them. I will also make every person feel as if their computer is my number one priority when I'm working on it.

My friend on the other hand rarely will flex on his price...even with people he knows...which while I realize he has bills to pay, if he knows them... he can work a deal out and just consider the rest of the money he lost advertising (because you KNOW, they're going to tell their friends he's a great guy to deal with). He also never shows up on time. His business hours are from 11am - 7pm. He rarely arrives before 11:30am and I often see his car in his driveway at around 6:30pm (his house is on my way home). Plus he takes anywhere from 1-3 hours at lunch.

People will often come into his shop to find him on the phone or bullshitting with friends...which is fine...but then when they ask him how soon he'll have the computer ready to go, he'll say he's extremely busy and it'll prolly be midweek before he can get to it.

And if that's not bad enough...when someone asks him a question, he answers is in g33ksp33k and when they say, "Huh?" he won't elaborate...which leaves them scratching their head and feeling embarrassed that they don't understand anything he just said.

Because I'm so busy now, I don't do much computer work on the side...but when I have time, I typically do it free of charge (aside from the cost of any parts) and when they ask what I owe them, I say don't worry about it...or I accept donations...give me what you can afford/think it's worth. Or if they insist on having an amount...I'll usually ask them what they were quoted or figure out what my buddy's shop charges and I just do it for half of that price. Now I kinda operate out of my buddy's shop in order to keep people from having to catch me at either work or home...so I told him if I do free work and use the shop, I'll do it on behalf of his business so he gets free word of mouth advertising out of it. Seems to work too.

Anyway...I rambled a lot there...point is, if you open your own business...obtain good customer service skills and you will go farther than most of the other guys in the business.
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Old 05-05-2010, 07:57 PM   #5
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Yeah I was concerned about if it was good money. Opening up my own shop probably won't happen. Hopefully I can get on at BMW or some luxury car company. I know UTI has courses specially for those car companies and if you make it into one you usually get hired straight out of college. I was also thinking doing firefighting, and on my off days work at some small mechanic shop. I'm not sure tho... finding a career is a tough choice.
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Old 05-05-2010, 08:54 PM   #6
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you have a lot to consider. i've been a professional mechanic for about 10 yrs now, and you gotta love to do it. the saying goes, you have grease in your veins, or you don't. i left a kushy well paying retail management scene, to do what i do. i loved working on cars, so i became a mechanic, BUT, it takes years of learning, and building of your tool box. it took maybe 5 years before i enjoyed working on cars again, the first 4 or 5 years took my favorite thing, and made it my job, and suddenly it wasn't what i did because i enjoyed it. if you have the talent for it, and patience, it pays off. it is hard to make good money, but not impossible. when i was in school one of our teachers told us we'd spend 50,000 to 75,000 bux in tools, and i shrugged it off. i easily have 75 to 100 grand invested, and almost all paid for, its no joke, if you wanna be at the top of the game, you'll have to spend money. if you have 10 grand or so up front, there are guys selling their box and tools on ebay because they can't hack it, and are selling it all, thats a great place to start. i see 30 to 40 grand in tools and box being sold for next to nothing.

i can go on, and on, send me a message if you want some of my input. now days you need to go to school, and the direction cars are taking now is scary. there may be some very hi paying, skilled jobs for mechanics coming up, with hybrids, and the way cars are being made these days. wyo tech is supposed to be one of the best schools as well, and there's one around our area that really sucks, i'll have to double check which one, its either lincoln tech, or uti.

edit: i used to think i wanted to own my own shop, i no longer want to. i got into both sides of a shop because i don't want to turn wrenches when i'm 50. i'm the lead tech, and the manager. i write the tickets, and sell to the customers. i'm involved in the advertising and other parts of the business to, and there's so much to it, and so much over head its crazy. and one man, can't do the shop side and fixing cars, as well as keeping the business straight, as far as paper work, accounting, inventory and all that. it is very hard for a mechanic to own a shop, fix cars, and keep the office/business end straight to, they are both more than full time jobs separately. there's a lot of shops failing right now, i've seen too many close in my area.
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Old 05-05-2010, 09:53 PM   #7
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Thanks for the info doc. That's more of the type of info I'm looking for. I sent you a PM by the way.
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Old 05-05-2010, 10:04 PM   #8
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no problem, anytime.

i would definitely try to get hired in a shop at whatever they'll hire you, porter, tire buster, lube tech to get on the scene. avoid the idiot places though like pep boys, jiffy lube, and the likes. the idea is to be around a positive influence for this type of work.

and remember, it took me almost 5 years before i enjoyed working on cars again in my free time. once you take something you love to do, and make it your job, you aren't doing it just when you want to, you have to do it everyday. once i got pretty good at it, and overcame the stigma of drug addict and alcoholic mechanics, i enjoy it at work, and at home.

i don't dread going to work, i'm thankful for my job. i never wake up and say i wish i didn't have to work today. although some people here might say i complain about customers coming in at lunch time, but i don't think i've ever brought it up, lol.
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Old 05-05-2010, 10:06 PM   #9
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Would you like fries w that HA
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Old 05-05-2010, 10:08 PM   #10
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Sent you a PM back doc
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Old 05-06-2010, 03:43 PM   #11
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idk if anyone has brought it up but i know you brought up UTI but have you thought about looking into Wyotech too
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Old 05-06-2010, 06:47 PM   #12
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Yeah i have. Haven't really checked it out but I hear it's good. But since I have to pay for my own college i'm trying to keep the cost down and go for the cheapest possible price where I'll get all the skills and knowledge I need to be a succesful auto techinician.
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Old 05-06-2010, 07:21 PM   #13
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even comunity colleges have tech programs, i think it boils down to you'll get what you want out of it, if you focus and intend to learn you will, others just show up and don't learn. wyotech has interesting programs and other areas such as race cars, fabrication, and other newer aspects of the work.
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Old 05-06-2010, 07:33 PM   #14
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Get certified as a mechanic, but while you're at it, take some classes on the business side of things - accounting, advertising, marketing, etc. Learn about what it takes to run a business while you learn and become proficient at being a mechanic. And save up a good bit of cash in the meantime.

The decision to be a small business owner should not be taken lightly, because the skills that are required to be good at it are very different from the skills to be a good mechanic, doctor, lawyer, massage therapist, whatever.

Lots of community colleges, as mentioned above, have first-rate auto tech programs. It might make sense to stay local, work while you learn, and be able to mix your auto and business classes during the same window of time.

In any case, good luck with whatever you choose to do!!
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Old 05-06-2010, 11:27 PM   #15
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Thanks for the advice computer. I'll definately look into it.
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Old 05-07-2010, 04:58 AM   #16
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yeah that is true many CCs can get you some great classes... my brother took some CC classes because he loves cars and he can do almost anything he needs to and he just took the classes for fun before deciding to go into business instead... im with computeruser though... and as a business/accounting major right now i couldnt agree more with him especially since you meantioned possibly opening your own shop at some point... its great to know the business and of it too
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Old 05-08-2010, 03:30 PM   #17
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Yeah I was planning on taking a business class as well.
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Old 05-08-2010, 05:39 PM   #18
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There is also a large organization that will train you as a mechanic and give you practical experience on off road vehicles along with great travel - all while receiving a regular paycheck and medical benefits. The only drawback may be the occasional bit of hostile fire and such.

Seriously though, if you are so inclined the US military can be a great way to build your knowledge and experience. If you do decide to look into it remember that only the promises that the recruiter puts in writing are worth a damn. And it's definitely not for everyone.
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Old 05-08-2010, 06:07 PM   #19
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I put myself through diesel school when I got out of high school, I went to work for cat and a few other places, even though about starting my own business too. Problem is technology moves fast, real fast. The things I started working on are dinasours now. And I am not that old. Go to work for a reputable dealer, earn all your certificates at someone elses expence. When you are good, and really want extra cash, do side work. If you like all the side work then look into your own place. BUt honestly for now, earn everything on someone elses dime, Theres always time for owning your own place once you have experience and a good clientel built up.
Good luck with what ever you do.

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Old 05-08-2010, 11:02 PM   #20
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Thanks for the info Brian. Helps alot
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Old 05-17-2010, 01:11 PM   #21
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Something else I thought of, If you start your own business, do not judge your success or failure until you have (5) years into it.

As for starting up,
1. spread the word
2. join local organizations to meet customers
3. look for a chamber of commerce
4. have a nitch to put you above your competitors
5. spend the 600-$700 per year to be an Accredited business with the Better Business Bureau
6. Market however you can
7. Don't be waistful! Be conservative!
8. and nowadays, be honest and fair, and you'll have an advantage!
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Old 05-17-2010, 01:18 PM   #22
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With no experience you can start by working at an Auto Parts store now, which would familiarize you with a lot more lingo and you'll meet a lot of mechanics, especially if you deliver at all. That would get you an "in" with those guys and maybe you could find yourself a good shop owner to work under a couple of years. Or you could just do some pop ins at some shops and see if anyone's hiring, get some entry level experience, and maybe someone would send you to school.

Usually local technical colleges have short programs that can get you on the fast track to all kinds of certifications. This way you could work for someone for a little while, see if it's for you, then if you wanted your own shop.. then do it.

My life tip it is this.. work hard, save more than you spend (way more), don't take on any debt (car payments, credit cards etc. and I mean NONE). It IS possible to live a debt free life. You'll be rich one day if you save and invest, it doesn't matter how much you make. Welcome to the world my friend.. enjoy it.
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Old 05-17-2010, 01:24 PM   #23
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ive been a tech for 7 years and i was in the same boat as you....i also liked working on cars as a HOBBIE....its alot different when its your day to day job...just put some thought into it first.....id say go to college and still work on car as a HOBBIE

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