Study, work hard, attend classes and you'll make a buncha money!
The myth: The more a tech knows the more he/she will be paid.
I suspected early in my career that the dealers (and sometimes the independent shop owners) who would promise a "six-figure income" for the smartest tech, would never pay that person those numbers. It became more obvious as time went on, the tech who managed "some how" to turn the highest numbers got paid the most, smart or not, and yes some actually saw over $100k.
I took it upon myself to become the best tech I could be. I'm still sacrificing a personal life to this day to maintain my edge. Being this smart a tech never provided me a six-figure income - unless one includes the figures to the right of the decimal place ;-). Truth be told, if you expect to make Wall Street wages you're in the wrong business.
I call it a myth!
I have to agree with you, why didn't I listen to my Dad? Made damned sure my son listened to me!
It is not a myth, many in this business that train and know what they are doing make six figures. But no it is NOT EASY, most techs undersell themselves when they are working out terms of employment, and think the money will just show up by magic, no you have to insist on it.
Is that you? Good to see you. Long time. I agree. I know I busted my behind for many years turning over 70 billable hours week in and week out and never made it to half of six figures. Btw. I need someone with your highly skilled OCD to organize my shop. Lol.
Hi Mickey! Long time no see.
BTW, in MY world, it's CDO... Same as OCD but in the correct alphabetical order!
Gotta be impossible for anyone with attention to detail to make money flat rate. Glad I never had to try it. I've heard stories from a couple guys that used to work at dealers. They cut so many corners the cars looked round when they were done!
in a 40-45 hour work week, I would have to agree. But I think the market you live in has a lot to do with it. I am about 40-45 minutes outside of Chicago. I know of a few who do it. And I do know of 1 shop that employs a diagnostician who makes it.
It's up to the tech to negotiate their pay. It's not only car smarts that gets you there, but also business smarts. If an owner can pay you half to do work that you will gladly do at that wage, they won't care. A lot of things go into making that kind of money, location, market, skills, having the told and equipment etc. But ultimately you probably agreed to what you are getting paid. I negotiated hard, and it's up to you to prove your value, If the shop can't afford you, and you know you are worth more, maybe it's time to find a shop that values skill, and is willing to pay for it. So in my experience it's not a myth, everyone I know that makes that much is no dummy. And I know of no dummies making that much, whether they're crooks is usually the determining factor.
I've worked in major metropolitan areas, small towns and everywhere in between.
Negotiate all you want - but if I were to ask what it would take for me to make 6 figures ("up to the tech to negotiate their pay"), I couldn't find an employer willing to pay it within a 100 mile radius. I was promised on several occasions "you have the potential to make..." but they couldn't maintain the car count needed for that to come true, or they'd institute some rule about come-back / charge-back (even when it was a parts failure), or (fill-in-the-blank-excuse) why it never happens. Negotiate all you want, that part's is a fallacy. Find me one shop in Florida willing to pay 50% labor that doesn't make up the difference elsewhere - like 1099'ing the tech. I guess you might find ONE, but not many more than that.
You're correct about other factors making it more likely, but let's look at it realistically... The TECH who makes that much money (not talking about any other position here) is either actually seeing what was promised (extremely rare), related to the owner(s) or what you described in your last sentence.
Man that's a pretty negative response.
Btw, when i said half, I didn't mean half the labor rate. I meant half your worth.
If you are the top guy in a shop that makes over 2 million a year, and you don't get paid that, YOU'RE IN THE WRONG SHOP. PERIOD. It seems you've only done flat rate by what I read in your post. I'm not flat rate, anymore(Those owners tend to be worse than a well established salary shop ). If you are the guy getting the jobs no one else would touch, and you do just about every diagnosis in that shop, then you, sir, are the top guy. I'm sorry about your location, but there are shops(including) body shops that will pay that much for quality. Now I will be totally up front, I don't make 100K a year, but I'm pretty close. And yes I fought my way up there. Am I the best tech in the world? far from it!(I mean crazy far from it) But I at least know my value when I see tons of techs rolling through the shop, plus I get hit with most of the diagnosing, and I have to diagnose other techs misdiagnosed cars. My goal is to make 100K, and although I'm not there yet, the last thing I'm going to do is spread word that it's unattainable. No, it's not. That is, unless, you've given up first.
Thank you for the clarifications Mario. I'm still unsure about some of your statements (meaning not clear to me) but I think I get your gist.
Thankfully, I'm not a "tech" anymore; I'm more of a businessman who happens to do Tech stuff every now and then. I never worked as a tech when shops started paying salaries until my last gig, when I worked for Steve Brotherton. So, yes, my negative attitude stems from a lifetime working in Flat RAPE pay systems, from personal experiences in family-run shops and from talking with other techs around the country with similar experiences.
BTW, I hope you EXCEED your goal (not just achieve it). There's no reason a savvy person who continues to improve his/her knowledge these days shouldn't be able to do what us old-timers were unable to. I am glad you're in an environment where shops respect your investment of time to better your skill set(s). An overwhelming percentage of shops in central Florida are just the opposite. Sadly, they keep the myth alive.
"Man that's a pretty negative response." (To Jaime.) Don't forget he has 39 years experience. You'll think the same one day too. :-) Wages in this industry stagnated twenty years ago.
But for now; Are you the "Super Mario Diag" channel on YouTube? I just found that one. I got a GoPro for my birthday and want to start doing videos too. Seems like a good way to make the job seem fun again. I've seen everything Paul Danner and Eric Obrochta have done since the start. Gotta figure how to tell if the headband mount makes the camera point where I am looking.
I pretty much try to watch every video that I can cuz out here (West Maui) I might only get one diag every few days, even though I am THE diag/electrical guy at this shop. Car owners are all like ffffing high school kids out here, even at 50 years old. They suck!
The one I always liked was when the employer came up to me unannounced (usually because he was paying me more than he intended) and said he was coming up with a new pay plan that was designed to make me even more money.
I give them an "A" for ingenuity when it comes to stuff like that.
The problem that I have seen is the six figure techs are great part hangers. Let's face it, the big dollars are in brake jobs, CV axles, clutches, tune-ups and anything you can learn to do fast.
When we talk about a Master Technician and especially a diagnostic technician, we find that many service advisors have no clue as to what it takes to properly diagnose a vehicle. You should be able to diagnose anything in an hour, right? So the more classes you attend, more electrical experience you get, the more headaches you inherit. So you go from flagging 70 hours to 35 hours. I made a six figure income as a technician in 2008, just one year. It was a very hot summer and I made most of it on A/C. The next year year the boss made changes in shop structure, took away all the gravy and handed me the "high level" repairs and diagnostics. No more A/C work, brake jobs or CV axles.
The best thing a technician can do is find a shop owner that is willing to treat him as an equal or even as his hero. Negotiate a fair wage and take part in the estimate process. If that is not an option and you have a back up, you can offer your services as a mobile diagnostic tech. You then become the one to say what you are worth. I can tell you from experience, you will starve before you get to your potential. A few key accounts and you are off and running.
So I would say it is a myth that being smart and learning all the time will bring you $100K as a tech. $100K is possible if you learn business acumen, become the best diagnostic guy and sell your services to other shops. I am still refining that part.
Michael Christopherson, yours and my experiences are almost identical, right down to the great year I had involving a lot of AC work. I too have found my niche, and as a mobile tech, one who is often times a shop's last resort, am making what I want (unlike the past - NOT making what was promised).
My education, the one obtained throughout my whole career, until recently was abused by employers that knew I was more valuable than what they were paying me. I too was given the "tough" jobs, barely eeking out a living while watching neanderthals in the next bay over raking it in. I couldn't buy my groceries though by beating my chest (Look what I accomplished!).
Throughout my children's upbringing, I'd tell them that "Everything you've done up until this point, has added up to make you who you are today". These days, I'm heading my own words, and using them for my (financial) benefit.
To make big bucks on flats rate you have to be "stupid"...so all the crappy work goes to the other guys.
It seems to help get into the door, but it still comes down to how much one can make for the employer - therefore, a good mechanic without any certifications normally make more than the most certified technicians.
I’ll have to stick with a myth since I haven’t seen it for myself... Yet lol. when I first started in 09 at the School the teachers would all talk about making 6 figures at the dealer. I want that too!! How do I get it? Their answers were all the same. You need more credentials, You need more experience, and you need to find someone who will value you..... Well I went for a journey and I hunted for almost 10 years. I spent thousands of $$$$ buying Tools and countless hours of work and studying Only to be making less than 30k. Seems like every independent shop in south Florida wants to pay their techs $500 a week take home. It’s so depressing at times. but I snap out of it and keep going I have a 5 year old daughter. When I have to take care of situation with my daughter all they wanna do is doc pay.... I must‘ve worked at like 30 shops Lol. I’m kind of ranting on I feel like now. I’m a Master tech btw. Ive been attending every CTI class for the past 2 years and went to couple WTI classes so far but will do as much as I can afford...
I was at Automechanika Atlanta and took 3 classes there.
past 2 years have been amazing and the people that I’ve met along the way even better. You guys posting and commenting has my eyes ears and mind open. Thank you
Brother, there are plenty of shops that will pay good money in South Florida. Rise above it man. I know of a couple of shops that will pay double that plus commission. If your worth your salt. And if you are the tech i think you are, it should be a piece of cake.
I‘m not from Missouri but show me!
Mario, There isn't enough money in the world that would motivate me to move BACK to S.E. Florida. I was born and raised in Miami, went back after my stint in the US Navy, and have been nothing but damn GLAD ever since I moved away. You may be right, that some shop owners there might be willing to pay $100k or more, but it's not worth it if I had to live there. Thanks but, no thanks.
(Edited to include this)...
Let me tell you about the time when I, along with 4 or 5 other techs were making good money at a Miami Chevy dealership. It got bought out and within a month, all of us were asked to stand in a line, and march out the door. The reason? The new owners claimed their company policy required every employee to speak SPANISH (not just be bi-lingual) and none of us did so very well! The conclusion we came to - we were making more than the hispanics who also worked there!
So, tell me all about how I can make good money in Miami again??? No, please don't try. Thank you.
Good for you 👍 good luck! I think I understood you from your first response :)
The US Department of Labor's 2017 statistics tend to support your myth.
I know the average tech pay is lower than it should be, and some of that has to do with our labor rates are lower than they should be. But I think those statistics are lower than what the average tech pay really is because they have lube techs and tire techs included.
Ed, as does the State of Florida's statistics.
I have been into the six figure club for ten years now. All it took was moving halfway across the country, and ditching automotive for the heavy truck industry.
I think it is very possible but like it has been covered there is not a sign on every street corner for techs to come make 100k here. I think the big key is finding the right employers to work for and for me that would be a family type owned business. There probably is a little luck involved and being in the right place at the right time but i have accomplished this goal and so have others that i know around my area. I hope everyone sees this as a goal! Good luck
The truth remains. When you work for a small shop or a large corporation your value is determined by what they are willing to pay. I had a great deal at one shop for a while until the boss made changes that improved his life and made mine worse. When you take the risk and become your own boss, you have nobody but yourself to blame when it comes to income. I make far from six figures right now. I am happier than ever. I choose what I want to work on. I can fire my customers any time I want. When you are able to bill the customer what you feel is appropriate, that is when one feels worthy and valued. At the end of the day, do you want to be controlled or to have control over your own destiny?
I guess my next question towards this would be are we talking about just techs or would a shop foreman fall into this subject as well? If I dont want to work on something or someones car i wont but that rarely happens. As far as the customer getting charge what i think is appropriate I think everyone should be doing that on every job but I do realize most techs are not in control of what is going to be charged for what job. I personally am not in this business to give away my work for free. At the end of the day even though i am employed by someone i do believe i am in control of my own destiny by no means am i controlled. Have a good one this is a great topic !
Hey Chris, If you are happy with your career then that is what matters.
A six figure tech actually has a huge measure of control. At the end of the day, all shops must fix cars, and do it efficiently. There is a massive skilled tech shortage, and quite a few shops are hurting quite bad because they cannot deliver thier basic fundamental purpose: fix cars. Find a shop that is buried, step up and knock their entire workload out and their attitude changes immensely.
During the wage negotiation process, remember these shop owners have “heard it all”. They have been lied to so many times they loose faith. they don’t believe you, and you must show them.
Here is the magic recipe for 6 figures:
- the shop has to have a massive work load. Look for shops that have 4 or 5 techs and an owner complaining they flag maybe 20 hours a week.
- pull every ticket, especially the ones the gravy suckers do not want. Pull the diesels, pull the euro trash, pull the hybrids, aka pull EVERYTHING. Now smash them. If you loose time, stay late and catch up.
- your diag had better be close too 100% accuracy and you have to do that in under an hour. You should win 90% way under that hour to compensate for the 10% that is going to test your sanity. Shops have a very hard time billing 5 hour diag for current ramping and voltage dropping fuel pump circuits. We know what is professional level diagnostics, and we also know what is reasonable to bill. You need to prove your not only smart, but that your efficient. Efficency is tough if your not seeking to expand your skillset, and your skillset alone doesn’t justify top pay.
- NO Comebacks, no excuses. Look the vehicle over very well: those courtesy inspections will save you a comeback and being blamed for something you didn’t do.
- Now you negotiate not only your pay, but what you work on. Now it’s not necessary to go 15 hours deep in a ford diesel. Now you don’t have to take all the junk tickets. They will feed you. Now you have control AND you make 6 figures. You have to prove yourself by doing what most can’t or won’t do. This doesn’t just mean diag, or heavyline, or diesel guru, I mean ALL of it. None of those skill sets By themselves justify the top pay in our industry. You want big money, you do it all.
- Your toolbox has wheels for a reason, there are hundreds of thousands of shops across this country hurting real bad for skill, efficient techs. Next shop will even pay the wrecker bill to move your set up.