Boots & Lipstick
I like the Sunday funnies. There are about a half dozen different titles that I could've used for this post. They all would've come down to the same thing. If you can't baffle 'em with brilliance, befuddle 'em with bulls.... It could be the color of my hair shading my take on things. While I'm not quite get off of my lawn, I've got cattle out my back door and have been to Texas. I know BS when I see it.
Frankly, I was surprised that this didn't start with PRNewswire or something like that. msn.com/en-us/money/ca…
You may say, so what. Fair enough. But has anyone really looked into the pablum being shoveled? Let's take a quick looksie. The BLS statements are a good start. bls.gov/ooh/installati…;
The Summary seems straight-forward, right? Let's get into the weeds a tad. What do techs do? Depending on the locales, who buys what should get an asterisk. A lot of my government and industrial customers supply all tooling to the techs. They are also an anomaly. The Work Environment is news to me and a nice touch. "and they typically work in well-ventilated and well-lit repair shops." Lipstick on a pig?
How to become one? I find the BLS take on this to be interesting. Let's put an asterisk on the Education part and the training part. (Please note that mathematics is mentioned twice. We'll come back to that.) I wonder how Pay looks. Yup, that gets an asterisk. Hell, make it two. Why? Take a look at the conflating of "commission" and "flat rate".
Job Outlook? That gets an asterisk. (I'll get back to that one later, also.) State and area data? Please note that the Unemployment Office appears to be the source. Yup, we'll definitely get back to that one. Similar occupations? That's too funny. The old line about lies comes to mind here. There are 3 types of lies; Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics. Yeah, we'll get back to that one.
More info? Come on, click on a link. You know you want to do it. Let's look at Master Mechanic. When was the last time that you relined brakes? Arcing shoes? What? You're not doing that? And you call yourself a Master? Pffft! What software are you using? You're not using this: "Blue Streak Electronics Buell Diagnostic"? Do you know what it is? Let's ask our friend, The Google. Hmm, the hits go back to job agencies, schools and the squatting spider/s. (There were a few that I won't click on because they may put something on my ass that Ajax won't take off.) They all seem to be pretty much the same blurb. Think that deserves an asterisk? If a circle jerk like this was seen for any other piece of "information", people should scream potential/probable "HOAX".
If you look at the Utah's statistics, the shortage doesn't appear to be as acute as spouted. Why do you care about Utah? Because they put it together. projectionscentral.com/Projections/Sh…
OK, so what do we know? We know that, for years, people have been saying there is a shortage of techs. We know that because they tell us so. :) As I mentioned before, I'm a very trusting person. Those asterisks? Let's look at them. Who pays for the education? If OJT isn't required, where does the "JT" come from? Who is paying for that? In some …es, the shop owner will pay for the seat but the attendee isn't getting away scot-free.
How about the pay? I work commission. If we don't sell, we don't make anything, period. When we do sell, we make a percentage of the sale. That's commission. Flat rate isn't commission and in some states, there is a legal definition of each. One thing people will hopefully learn when working is that it is not how much you earn but how much you get to keep. So, in this …e, we have someone who may make $40K using the BLS numbers. Of course, any education and tooling loan payments must be subtracted from that, neither of which are deductible for an employee any longer.
I have an excellent grasp of the obvious, right? Well, if mathematics is important then it should be important here too. Aircraft techs don't buy tools but make more. Small engine techs make less but have a lower "investment". If math is important then most auto techs are unqualified to be in this field to begin with.
That job outlook? I used PA since I'm fairly familiar with the lay of the land in my neck o'the woods. I'll be very surprised if what I saw for PA (and a quick look at NJ and DE) doesn't hold for other states. I did notice one difference between PA & NJ. The AAA posting that I saw in in NJ for a "C" Tech doesn't have this minimum requirement. "Ability to train and mentor other Repair Technicians and Service Associates."
What I also saw is that the postings are duplicated. In many …es, there is a posting for the unemployment office with a job code and then another posting without a job code. The second posting may also change the corporate name though it is the same job. In other …es, it's an out and out duplicate. While I didn't go through every one, I won't be far off of the mark if I cut the number of posting in half to arrive at a real number. (I wonder what an Auditor General of Attorney General [State's Attorney] would think about that. Perhaps nothing since they are elected positions. Then again, stranger things have happened around election time.)
So, what's the conclusion? There are a few.
1: The mobile guys are in the catbird seat and will be for a while. So are the good shops. But they know this.
2: The people spouting the shortage of tech li(n)es are full of it. There may be a shortage of qualified techs but no shortage of bodies. If there is a real shortage, it is at least 50% lower than what is being spouted. This is just at the unemployment offices. I wonder how many thumbs are on how many other scales. The question becomes if there is a bit of a conspiracy in getting their shortage message out and whether any laws are being broken doing so. (Many states offer tax incentives for jobs through the unemployment office.)
3: Are the schools (for profit and otherwise) going along with this complicit or just incompetent and negligent? Is tax-payer money involved? Depending on the answers, that may leave a mark.
4: Anyone capable of performing basic mathematics wouldn't touch this trade with a 10 foot pole. Either things improve or we teach "situational mathematics". (Because I'm the mommy! Do as I say, not as I do!) Until that changes,... One nice thing about the younger generation is that they aren't as apt to buy a pig in a poke. With other types of jobs out there, they don't need to. In some locales, someone can make more working at Mickey D's than AAA is showing in their posting.
5: For the most part, the companies using the unemployment office aren't known for not eating their young.
6: My shallow dive, though some may say screed, isn't directed at good shops. If they don't know this then, perhaps, they may not be as good as they think they are.
7: Once those types of issues are addressed, the real reasons for any possible tech shortage can be looked at. If you avoid the 3 card Monte game, you'll see which end is up. Why you should care is that you can "guide" a potential tech towards accurate information and show them how to tell if someone is trying to blow smoke up their skirt. I think it is a terrible thing to allow someone with potential to be eaten alive by the meat grinders.
So many different things to go with here, however I'm going to stick with the most amusing ones to me. The median pay (meaning in the middle, not mean and not average) for a mechanic is $39,550 and yet I've seen multiple articles, including the one you linked, that cite pay up to or exceeding $100,000 a year; only requirement being master tech certification and 5 years in the industry. That
Good thoughts Guido. After being in this business for longer than some of you have been alive I only have one thing to say, youtu.be/3mKkTm38w3E Although, I have never worked for anybody other than myself. I still love this job, although what I make doesn't even match what the government says people make.
Hello Albin, I would consider you to be one of the top techs in the country. Why would you not match what the government says people make? Do you feel the expectations of what technicians want to make is out of line with reality? I don't make what the government says people make either, but I am sure as heck trying to change that.
Big paychecks & being self employed don't usually go together, especially when I work by myself. I do OK for myself, although I am several years beyond my prime.
"If math is important then most auto techs are unqualified to be in this field to begin with." Bam! You could clean up the double negatives though: "5: For the most part, the companies using the unemployment office aren't known for not eating their young." LOL Seriously though; I don't find much to disagree with here. Ciao!
Hi Jeff: Without the double negative, I could be accused of impugning someone's character. With it? I guess that we may never know. Guido
Hi Guido, I enjoyed reading your article about automotive technicians. It is hard to tell how you feel about being a tech as a career? Are you saying we need to raise the bar on wages for experienced master technicians or just give up and do something else in a related field? I am interested in your take on $40K on median salary? There are two shops in my area that pay well. Top tech at one
Hi Mike: I fixed a car once. I liked it. My post was primarily addressing FNGs, not established techs. As a career, being a technician can be a fine choice. Just like anything else, there will be pluses and minuses. You ask two important questions. I'm not going to answer them. I'm not blowing you off though. I don't think they are the questions that you really meant to ask. OK, they're not the
Guido, When I was young and settled in as a tech I was starving as you have described. I hated the days where I had to choose what bills to pay. I did side work in my driveway 12 months a year to help pay my bills. I remember using a broom to move the snow in the winter and hosing off the car in the summer so I did not burn myself on the fenders. Many nights and weekends were spent doing this
Hi Mike: I hope that everyone keeps you in mind if they'd like to place someone with potential. This is kind of the bottom line in my OP. If we let them go the traditional route, they'll get chewed up and be spit out. I have 2 points that I need to make. One is a clarification, the other a correction. The $8.85 was just the minimum wage standard in NJ. I wasn't espousing someone do this at