The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, citing a 2010 study by the Center for Automotive Research, notes that the U.S. auto industry is responsible for about 8 million jobs nationwide when you factor in jobs from other sectors that are dependent on the industry. This equals about 4.5% of private-sector employment. The Alliance also notes that more than 1.7 million people are engaged in designing, engineering, manufacturing and supplying parts and components for vehicles. With so many different types of jobs available, there are numerous career paths that deal with working on cars.
Creating and Programming
Automotive engineers use computer aided design software to develop prototypes of new systems and parts, including engines, transmissions and structural components. They oversee the construction, alteration and examination of updated parts and vehicles, and are responsible for calibrating vehicle systems such as the control algorithms. As technology continues to evolve, employers are increasingly seeking chemical, electrical and software engineers to work on automobiles with more advanced components. O*Net OnLine reports that automotive engineers earned a median annual income of $82,100 in 2013.
Assisting in Specialties
Automotive engineering technicians help experienced engineers decide the possibilities and limitations of certain designs. They’re also responsible for maintaining the equipment used to test new prototypes. According to ONet, auto engineering techs made a median wage of $52,390 per year in 2013. Other technicians specialize in certain systems, such as the suspension, brakes or radiator. They modify, fix or replace pieces associated with their specialty, such as carburetor parts, mufflers or fuel injectors. ONet reports that automotive specialty technicians earned a median annual income of $36,710 in 2013.
Repairing Visible Pieces
Auto body repairers focus on vehicle frames and exterior components, not including glass. They straighten frames, repair surfaces, fill dents, refinish bodies and reupholster seats. According to ONet, automotive body and related repairers earned a median wage of $38,850 per year in 2013. Glass installers and repairers are in charge of fixing cracks and chips or replacing window glass and windshields. ONet reports that automotive glass installers and repairers earned a median annual income of $32,310 in 2013.
Detailing the Exterior
Transportation equipment painters who work on cars have two different specialties. Some work in auto body paint and repair shops, where they touch up paint jobs on old or damaged vehicles. Others are employed in manufacturing facilities to supervise modern cars as they undergo an automated painting process that includes corrosion baths, colored paint and clear gloss. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that transportation equipment painters were paid a median wage of $39,600 per year as of May 2012.
- Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers: Auto Jobs & Economics
- U.S. Department of Commerce Office of Aerospace and Automotive Industries: U.S. Automotive Industry Employment Trends
- O*Net OnLine: Summary Report for Automotive Engineers
- O*Net OnLine: Summary Report for Automotive Engineering Technicians
- O*Net OnLine: Summary Report for Automotive Specialty Technicians
- O*Net OnLine: Summary Report for Automotive Body and Related Repairers
- O*Net OnLine: Summary Report for Automotive Glass Installers and Repairers
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: What Painting and Coating Workers Do
- USA Today: Auto Engineers Too Few or Just Harder to Find?
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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