So now what?
I have recently jointed the ranks of those who used to work on cars. For 20 years, I've wrenched. I started sweeping floors and built myself up to be, in my opinion, a top notch diagnostician. During the last few years, I saw the writing on the wall. I realized my pay check was directly related to how much I was able to produce. I did some quick math in my head and figured I had maybe another 10 years or so being at the top of my game. My brain was sharp, my body was able to do the things my brain wanted, and I still had the passion to improve. I've seen far too many people wrenching too hard for far too long into the twilight of their career. I needed to plan my exit strategy.
I could own a shop. I've done it before, but I still have nightmares about that. I lost everything in the crash of 2008. I do think I've learned from my mistakes and make it work this time.
I could teach. Passing on my experience and knowledge is a passion of mine. I feel strongly that if we pass on what we've learned, then the next generation will start off a little better. If we continue to do that, we will all grow. I attended training events and made some contacts to try to get the ball rolling.
This is when the opportunity to work at Autologic came through. I am able to work in tech support, which allows be to still use my noggin to research and diagnose. I can also pass along some testing techniques that I've learned the hard way. Along with that, I am able to develop class material and teach. I do love it. I can't seem to get enough.
My question to you is: How many of you have made a similar move? If so, how do you keep your chops up? If needed, do you think you could get right back in and preform? What do you miss (if anything) about shop life?
I'm looking forward to hearing your responses.
I would hope there is something else to go onto when I can make the switch. I have been in this game of do everything way too long and wish to put my efforts torwards diagnostic side 100 percent instead of also having to deal with performing the repair. This is a extremely hard field not only on the body but mentally as having to remember where all the bolts go on one car while diagnosing multiple others at the same time. Then there is the lackluster pay we deal with and can understand why so many flee for a better life. This industry is not for the weak thats one thing I learned early on in my career. Congrats on the Move
Hi Chris. Congrats on the move. I was in a similar situation. Left the industry last year to work at Metrolink on the high voltage trains after 38 years. Bodies starting to hurt but could still keep the pace up, but for how long. Better pay, benefits, vacation, etc. Really miss the drivability and electrical problems. Now. What to do with 5 full tool boxes, 4 scan tools and 4 lab scopes. Would love to find a small shop to work at a couple evenings for the headache, problems jobs that have been everywhere else.
I had to quit turning wrenches because of too much pain in my shoulders, elbows and my right wrist.
I'm at retirement age anyway and I have diagnostic tools in the trunk of my car.
I have about a half dozen shops that I help out and it keeps me sharp and in the game.
It's a great feeling to be able to successfully diagnose problem vehicles after other techs are not able to figure it out.
I'm at the point of trying to decide what to prepare for to get out. I've looked at shop owner but I think I've ruled that out. Leaning toward tech school instructor and maybe doing mobile diag to supplement my income, if needed, sometime in the next 10 years
I can't say that I've made that move, I've barely begun. But i think it's a great topic not only to see who's done the same. But for us discuss the different exit strategies our industry has to offer. I'm sure there are plenty of ways to exit the wrenching, like teaching, consulting, diagnosing, tech support, owning, etc. Would like to see what else is out there for those in the field that we could consider.
At age 44 I decided to save my body from the wear and tear. I started to feel the years of lifting, pulling and pushing. I love the industry so I just can't leave it alone. I train when I can along with programming, diagnostics and tool sales. I am finding more and more opportunities to diagnose electrical issues. I hope to develop a business model and develop a mobile diagnostic and programming franchise. I am also working on a system to get youth in apprenticeships while in college.
Hey guys I just started the trial today from friends like Mario from supermario diagnostics and the famous Keith defazio. Its a pleasure to join a site with such talented and knowledgable technicians like all u guys. Mario spoke highly of u Chris Martino. I've just started doing diags Nov.2017 joining scannerdanner premium and just buying books from ATG and just reading and soaking everything in. I've come along away. And my whole thing is I wanted to separate myself from being a parts changer because I felt stuck no growth could happen. U go to YouTube and theirs a video on how to change everything out. So now everything I learn want to show the guys and the bosses are amazed of the diags I am doing and no more spending it down the street to get something fixed or call in some guy to find and electrical problem. Those days are gone. Turning wrenches is getting boring now and repetitive but if it's related to fixing the misfire and ripping the plenum off to get it fixed I'm all in. My thinking is this can be my way out also by the age of 40 or so. But i love learning everyday on something new and I just want to help guys just like I was helped and give back what was so freely given to me. I've been asking around online where can I go to learn more and expand my knowledge. Like local classes or what suggestions can I take to further improve in what I lack in like a seminar or something. I'll put the time in just need some direction. Everything that I learn everyday I test on known good cars and I bring the other fellow techs with me to see what I found so they can understand also. For some reason I love learning and right away I wanna show them and help them understand in easier fashion. Because I remember when it came and still does come with electrical and the words they use and I'm like WHAT. lol. Just asking for some advice thank u.
Good to see you joined Jason. These guys are top notch, and you won't be disappointed. Autologic, trained by techs, and this website are amazing resources. Just dig in brother. And enjoy! These are great guys with tons of knowledge and experience minus the talk down, and nonsense. Enjoy buddy!
Thank u buddy. I'm really enjoying the site. Guys talk about what they encountered and posting their fixes and captures of labscope waveforms and scan data. My prayers have been answered to where I should've been this whole time. Kinda like when u meet a girl u are very interested in and say WHERE HAVE U BEEN ALL MY LIFE. Lmao. U know what I mean. Nice work on the Miata u posted up today. Ur climbing up my brother. I'll see u at the top in the near future with the rest of these wonderful techs we have here on the site. I gotta put that work in first. Humbleness is key and dedication comes with it. Keep doing ur thing my friend
This is the passion that I always talk about. You see something that you can improve on, and then you do it. This industry will be well served by technicians like yourself. I appreciate your drive, sir.
As for your question, the answer is training. You can never learn too much. YouTube and Facebook are great platforms, but will never replace what you will get from a REAL training class. WTI had great material. As does CTI. If you can get to one of the bigger training events, it will not disappoint. I went to CAN conference in Chicago last year. It was my first big training event. It changed my life. No exaggeration.
Trained by Techs mission is to first and foremost, highlight the need for training. The snippets of info we give you are the tip of the iceberg, to get the full picture, you need to see this material for yourselves.
Thank u for taking the time out to respond. Mario wasent joking when he said these are a great group of guys who really do wanna help out guys like myself with question. I thought It would be days from now but in minutes i got a respond. Very happy. Yeah the shop that i am at which is …. The boss doesn't send us to training or willing to pay for that. She just wants the money to come in and put nothing out. That's why all the books and training I do with known good cars and equipment I bought from aeswave and practicing it on cars is for me. They can benefit the money coming in from my diags now but I take this knowledge with me very soon to another place where my work is appreciated. Just haven't found the right place to go. And I dont want to leave a shop and go to another one where it's the same thing and very little diag going on. I'm looking but nothing yet. That's why until then I am reading my ATG books and practicing on the known good cars and testing them. What's this WTI AND CTI u talk about sir. Is it like lincoln tech where u have to pay 22,000? I'm looking for classes close to me that I can attend every month. Money is going to come out my pockets but if it's for my future and to help others I'm in. I live in Jersey. Saving money up to get my scanner. I have my uscope but want to get the pico. I have diag equipment but not enough to do mobile just yet. Thank u and god bless u and ur family
Two words: Super Saturday. Be there. Look up worldpac training and carquest technical Institute, i believe it's a per class type deal. Your best investment is in yourself, keep your head up. I appreciate the kind remarks Jason! And just remember, if the training is good quality, that's money well spent. But yeah look up Super Saturday in Pennsylvania!
Yes ASA PA Super Saturday Oct 13 in Warminster, PA. It was a great event last year, you should be there. $150 well spent.
Other classes search for Worldpac Training Institute, Carquest Technical Institute, Automotive Training Group, and check with your local Oriellys and Napa for classes
I am shop foreman, IT tech, trainer, information specialist, tool person, and general “keep the shop running” guy for a 3 building independent. I do a lot of diagnostics and hand holding in the shop, quality control test drives, and am the tech of last resort when everyone throws up their hands.
i do some night training, which forces you to research and stay stay sharp!
you just got to find a shop that appreciates your talents!
Congratulations on the move Chris. BTDT, got the scars and "T" shirt too.
The path that I took was at 48 years old some 18 years ago while still working in a dealership. I was at the top of my game, but was suffering the long term effects on my body that some of us experience, most notably joint damage. Early in 1998, I'd been offered an instructional role as a part-time deal and had enjoyed the experience. I also enjoyed the fact that I was subsequently able to transition into a full-time instructional role around 2002, with the same manufacturer's products at the college I still work for today. I did do some work in general programs, but ultimately was able to quickly resume working within my real zone of expertise and experience.
I was able to keep up my training and hand in working at the dealership covering vacation time and it just went on from there. I worked in both the aftermarket training side, the vehicle manufacturer sponsored apprenticeship program at the college and on site at the manufacturer's parts distribution centre facility, where we have two classrooms and I am currently working at this time.
The biggest challenge was eventually having to leave the bench behind completely. It came a couple of years after the move, simply because my workload had increased along with training and qualification requirements, increased prep time and more. There is always the yearning for technology and resisting becoming obsolete. That was a challenge that I fought daily and fortunately overcame to the point of satisfaction. While there is no real substitute for working in the service bays day in and day out, I can still experience many of those situations in my work and interact daily with those who are still serving that role. I'll sometimes visit to assist on site on a challenging diagnosis if the timing is right.
Fortunately, when I made the call to transition off the bench, I'd reached a point in time where I was no longer driven by needing a huge income, so was able to endure the initial reduction in pay, compared to my dealership income. That is something to keep in mind for those exploring other options to wrenching. I survived and moved up through wage increments to where I am once again comfortable if not rich. I now "enjoy" 46 days of paid vacation and about 13 statutory holidays, an annual training stipend any other training that I desire or need. I also usually travel to attend our annual conference in Detroit.
So, for anyone considering such a move, I would recommend sitting down and planning, budgeting and estimating what might be given up and what might be gained by a new venture. For those of us who are conscientious, we will continue strive to be the best that we can, no matter what field we choose. To that end, it can mean putting work as a priority while managing a relationship carefully. Still, for those of us who truly enjoy the diagnostic challenges in the automotive field, a sideways career move can make perfect sense. Being able to further utilize your subject matter expertise and diagnostic skill set will be probably be very enjoyable.
For most of the last 18 years I've been working with apprentices and journey person technicians on product lines on which I am familiar. While my main focus on the bench was diesel, drivelines, A/C, NVH and associated electrical system diagnostics, leaving the bench allowed me to become more proficient in areas that I had been less-practiced in over the latter years of my wrenching days.
So, while some technicians leave the bench to take on an instructional role in a college program and slowly become obsolete as far as the cutting edge technology, my experience has been quite the opposite. Ongoing training and exposure to the latest and greatest technology advancements are both a necessary employment requirement and an interest that I actively pursue. I am currently delivering and working with infotainment systems, MOST, Ethernet, Bluetooth, isolated networks etc, on … vehicles at the training centre.
In contrast, back at the college while working with the apprentices I could/can touch on these systems, essentially selectively taking snippets or useful exercises and incorporate them into the apprenticeship training.
So, to summarize how to leave the bench and continue to incorporate current expertise and subject matter knowledge, the monetary remuneration may not be the most important consideration that one might need to focus on. In my situation, increased paid vacation time to "die for", benefits, training, conferences and a host of other opportunities for professional development and advancement, easily offset what was initially a $20,000 - $25,000 lower annual income than I'd been used to. I involved my wife in the consideration and planning process, since making a career switch could be a risk that is not taken lightly and could affect the family. For each of us that contemplates making such a move to "greener pastures", I'd encourage you to do the research and weigh the pros and cons to see if the move is going to be a good decision.
About to start my 18th year. Dealer for over half my career and now indy. Shop foreman and diag/diesel tech at a multi location business. I feel like I'm a half decent tech. Travel aprox. 5-10 times a year across Canada and the US for leader led training. I do aprox. 3 hours a night on other types of training. So what I'm getting at is that I still have a huge passion for this industry and technology. I'm obsessed with training and learning. My issue the last couple years is the topic you have brought up. I worry about my family because I've never encountered a shop with a pension. This was never a big deal to me until I hit my 30's. Now it's all I think about. I have 2 offers for jobs that pay well with pensions but would have to leave the trade. A decision I've been struggling with for the last year now. I don't have much to add to this discussion due to I'm on the fence but am interested to hear what others have to say about the questions you've posed.
Hi Sean. I too never gave the retirement deal much thought until I found myself in this job with a pension back in 2002! I'm now already a year beyond retirement age, but am still enjoying working productively and adding to the various pensions. We had a gathering of alumni instructors for lunch yesterday and one of my ex-dealership co-workers who jumped ship long before me was there. He just announced his pending retirement that will take place 6 months from now, with 30 years of service! He will turn 60 about when he retires.
That's going to be a decent chunk of change. I'll probably hit 20 years if all goes well, but it is something that I mention intentionally. We all should plan ahead for the future, but in reality many of us keep putting it off because we have little disposable income remaining after taxes and paying the bills.
Our college pension is an institute managed and matched deal, basically a forced savings for the employees but with the employer participation is an attractive deal that is rarely the situation out there in the repair field. Without a pension, I'd strongly recommend some forced savings plan that is managed properly to invest and maximize the benefit from the invested income. We do have a few RRSPs, but there are other options with various levels of risk that could prove lucrative. We've never been in a position to invest heavily over the years, due to significant costs associated with our daughter Michelle's (RIP) health following a brain tumour early in her abbreviated life. However, we do also live a pretty simple lifestyle, with no needs or real desires for any extra toys other than my motorcycle these days.
Sean, if you are still truly enjoying the work in the field, why not at least create a retirement plan that at least gets you started with some guaranteed investments? You do have time on your side, but I recommend that you don't leave it until it is too late!
Take care, Martin
Good to hear from you. I'm sorry to hear about about your daughter. My condolences. Very good points about investing into a retirement. My mother was in the banking system and stressed the importance of money managenent my whole life. I've been investing in RRSPs since I was 19 years old so I have foot in the door in that respect. I agree that we have to look to the future and invest in ourselves as much as possible.
Chris, you're story is a lot like mine. I went through the same exact thing. I'm just over 3 years removed from the shop...
Even after being out of the shop now for 3 years you will still almost always find grease under my fingernails. You can take the tech out of the shop but you can't take the shop out of the tech.
The biggest change I saw between the 2 jobs was how much energy I still had when I got home. I decided to use this energy to stay sharp. I find people who need their cars fixed and offer them an alternative to the shop. I also am always looking for cars that people don't want to fix.
All in all I think, if needed, I could step right back into the shop tomorrow. It would take a little bit of time to get my body used to the daily grind again, but I feel like I could do it. I actually think that now I would be a better tech. Sitting at the desk researching, helping others, and writing training has really helped me to understand the "why." As a tech we spend so much time on cause and effect. Something isn't right, it makes a noise or whatever, we fix it. But the "why" isn't given much thought when we are living life 6 minutes at a time. I am now able to really dive into the "why" and I believe it has made me a much better tech in general.
All in all I think you made the right move. You're body thanks you, haha! It sucks the industry lost another good diag tech in the shop but, its gained someone willing to share the knowledge and help grow the next generation :)
I to have a driveway with a side job in it that nobody wants to fix. I find the difference is I want to do it. I kinda look forward to wrenching on it when I get home. I also believe that the research aspect of my job would make me a better mechanic if I have to go back to it.
I'm still waiting on the energy to come back though. When i first started this job, my brain has never been so exhausted. That may be because of me though, I always go 150% in everything I do. I'm still on the phone and computer till 11:30 at night. I wouldn't have it any other way though.
It's great seeing you on here!! Look forward to interacting further.
It's funny, I find myself enjoying pulling motors or transmissions at home. I never did that when I was in the shop...
You'll get used to the mental workout. Music helps me. Sounds cheesy, but when i'm researching or writing I listen to this playlist called "classical new age piano." Listening to it right now. Helps me stay focused and not stressed.
Oh, I go the other way, I have Tech N9ne going on in my headphones. Maybe I should slow down...
Lol. Tech N9ne. That's cool u have a little edge to u Chris. Didn't expect that one. That made my day
The faster the rap, the faster the brain. At least that's how I go about it.
Ohhhhh wow its Mike Becker. I'm new to the site Mike. U are an awesome teacher. Love ur wells tech videos. Is there any new videos coming or did I miss the notification. YouTube be messing up sometimes. Very happy with this site
Haha hey Jason, thanks man! New stuff is coming, but it may not be living on that channel. We are working through the logistics right now but there will be training and when it goes live I'll post where to find it on here! This site is amazing for sure!!!
Hahaha this comment though . I too listen to some uplifting music . I feel like wrenching while not full time at work , but at home It’s more relaxing maybe because diagnosisng kicks my ass at times lol and just some music the Right tools and I zone into that engine removal or what not
Did making the switch cost you money, was about the same or is more?
People say they change things up and enjoy less stress etc,but usually at a lower pay rate. I understand that.
Unfortunately for me,my financial obligations cannot be met with less stress.
So I kinda want to go in that direction later down the line, maybe in my mid 50s or so......
Yes, my starting salary is a definite hit in the wallet, but I had to weigh it against the benefit package and advancement opportunities. They also allow me to develop class material and travel and teach. Hopefully soon I will be making more than what I was doing at the shop while not killing myself. I also don't miss the lungs full of brake dust.
Hey guys, great discussion so far. I grew up like many of us holding the drop light for dad. The parents knew I was going down the same road of working on cars so they made sure I at least went and got an education in it. Worked at a handful of independent shops out of high school while making my way through tech school. Got myself into a dealership and stayed there for about 10 years making my way up to foreman and winning some prestigious awards through manufacturers along the way ( Kia and Subaru). Like many of us I spent alot of time in training, some great instructors and a few not so good along the way. Always thought to myself "I can teach classes". So the combination of wanting to be a good instructor and the thought of lasting physical ability to work flat rate pushed me towards an instructor position. In 2013 I would like to think I was in my prime as a flat rate dealer tech when the offer came in to teach. And it was to teach at the same school I graduated from! It was a very large pay cut to move out of the dealership and into teaching. The Insurance coverage and retirement were a good reason to make the switch (funny where your priorities end up as you get older). To make up the difference in pay I began doing a lot of mobile diagnostic work and helping local shops that couldn't justify a good diagnostician on the payroll 40hr/week. That mobile diag work has turned into a great learning experience and keeps me sharp and up to date on new vehicles and problems seen everyday in the shops. I will say there are many days where I am more exhausted after teaching then I ever was running around flat rate. Teaching a shop full of green technicians is a very mentally demanding task and my respect goes out to all instructors. For all of you that have never taught a class but thought an instructor did a good job, thank them! If you've ever thought teaching was easy and instructors don't work hard I challenge you to take some time to find a part time teaching position. It is more difficult then you will ever imagine! That being said, I love teaching! It may not be a job for everyone but if you enjoy it then it can be a very rewarding position.
Would I ever go back into a shop? There are many days I would love to, and I believe I can still at this point. But I also feel If I can turn out a handful of new technicians every year then I am more valuable in the classroom then the shop!