Pursuing a career in the automotive industry can be a rewarding way to work hands-on with vehicles and technology. If you are considering a career involving cars, it is helpful to understand the responsibilities of various roles. Jobs in the automotive industry span many career segments, including maintenance, repair, design, development, sales and customer service. In this article, we will discuss the 20 highest paying jobs in the automotive industry.
Why work in the automotive industry?
If you love cars, hands-on work and technology, pursuing an automotive related career can be a great way to apply what you love to your job. There are a wide variety of roles available, which allow you to apply your passion and skills to your chosen sector of the car industry. You will also have the opportunity to work with a diverse mix of individuals who share your love of cars. Additionally, since forms of automotive transport are always in use, a career in the industry is likely a stable one.
- Car detailer
National average salary: $11.90 per hour
Car detailers clean the interior and exterior of vehicles by washing, vacuuming, waxing and polishing the car. If needed or requested by the vehicle’s owner, they may also steam and deodorize the carpets, buff the painted surfaces, apply protective finishes to the exterior and shine the wheel rims. Car detailers interact with the customers to determine what services they need and drive vehicles around their shop to complete the work.
- Car rental agent
National average salary: $12.25 per hour
Car rental agents administer and recommend rental cars to guests who need to temporarily use a vehicle. They take customer documentation and ensure vehicles in the rental fleet are well maintained. Car rental agents should be familiar with the operation and technological features of a variety of vehicle types and be comfortable driving them around their lot as needed.
- Tire technician
National average salary: $13.39 per hour
Tire technicians service, repair, and replace car tires to create a fuel-efficient and smooth ride for the driver. They are knowledgeable about various tire types—including snow tires—and recommended treads for various road or off-road environments. Tire technicians can be employed by a tire speciality repair shop or as part of a bigger automotive technician team at a large auto body shop.
- Vehicle inspector
National average salary: $15.42 per hour
The vehicle inspector is responsible for ensuring vehicles meet safety standards—reporting violations and recommending repairs. They check cars for damages and drive them to determine any malfunctions. The inspector also connects the vehicles to mechanical and electrical testing devices to examine the components for damage or incorrect settings. They review the cars’ emission levels and any customizations added to the vehicles and confirm the cars meet all required regulations. If any repairs are necessary, the inspector will review the cars after repairs are completed to ensure they meet quality standards.
- Auto instructor
National average salary: $17.80 per hour
Auto instructors teach high-school or college students about repairing cars, engines, mechanical features and electrical systems. They may specialize in one or two maintenance areas or teach the basics of all vehicle components. They typically work in a shop-style classroom where students are able to gain hands-on maintenance and repair experience. A state teaching license is required for all teachers, including auto instructors.
- Auto body repair technician
National average salary: $20.06 per hour
Auto body repair technicians are responsible for safely and efficiently fixing car frames, suspensions, dents, windows and wheel alignment after a vehicle has been damaged. They primarily focus on the exterior, non-mechanical components of the vehicle and make them look new again. Auto body repair technicians often directly interact with customers in their repair shop and must have strong customer service and business skills to give the customer an upfront estimate of the cost and time required to repair their vehicle.
- Auto mechanic
National average salary: $21.25 per hour
Auto mechanics are responsible for carrying out routine maintenance, diagnostic testing and mechanical repairs. They primarily work on motorized components, including engines, drive belts, power steering, brakes and transmissions. Newer vehicles can be plugged into a computerized diagnostic testing machine, which tells the mechanic what repairs are required. The mechanic may need to recalibrate a motor, rewire parts or replace the entire component. Auto mechanics are familiar with vehicle regulations and technological systems and ensure the vehicle is safe to operate when returned to the owner.
- Auto electrician
National average salary: $25.79 per hour
Auto electricians are responsible for inspecting, repairing and maintaining a vehicle’s headlights, dashboard warning lights, alarm system, circuit boards and starter motor. They often work in mechanical and auto body shops with other technicians but focus on the electric issues within the vehicle. The auto electrician plugs the computerized diagnostic system into the car to determine the issue and develop a plan to fix it. The plan could include rewiring elements, replacing light bulbs or the entire electrical system.
- Tow truck driver
National average salary: $45,513 per year
Tow truck drivers work on call to attend to disabled or damaged vehicles on the road. They are responsible for safely securing vehicles to their tow truck by using a chain, winch, steering locks and affixing indicator lights on the disabled vehicles. They then transport the vehicles to the designated repair shop or junkyard. They should have a basic knowledge of vehicles and various car parts to effectively provide assistance and determine if the vehicle can be fixed without a tow. Tow truck drivers might handle roadside repairs that include jump-starting the car, changing tires and reconnecting parts.
- Car salesperson
National average salary: $61,111 per year
A car salesperson helps customers find the right car to purchase, explains the benefits and drawbacks of different models and begins the payment process. They build relationships with their customers to understand their vehicle needs and encourage repeat purchases with their dealership. A car salesperson also partners with the marketing team to reach out to and engage new potential clients. They promote the sale of their vehicles by encouraging test drives and riding along with the customer while they drive to explain various features of the car.
- Auto sales manager
National average salary: $67,034 per year
Auto sales managers lead a car dealership by forecasting vehicle demand and preferences for their area, maintaining inventory levels and managing the car sales team. They handle initiating and negotiating vehicle trades with other dealerships in the area. The sales manager also oversees and approves promotional discounts, public relations events and advertising campaigns. Their primary responsibilities are to ensure customer happiness and generate revenue for the dealership.
- Auto engineer
National average salary: $85,581 per year
Auto engineers research, develop and design the technical systems in vehicles. They work with the development and design team to utilize sophisticated technology in a safe and user-friendly way in the vehicle’s navigation, warning, control and fuel systems. The auto engineer can continue improving upon previous technologies used in their vehicle or develop new systems based on the current market trends. Throughout the design process, they troubleshoot any problems that arise and guarantee that they are fixed before production begins. They also partner with the process engineer to plan and develop the manufacturing process for their technological components.
- Process engineer
National average salary: $87,000 per year
Process engineers handle the engineering of the plant production process by maintaining automated systems and resolving technical issues. They have strong technical expertise in the automated manufacturing process and use creativity to further develop and pilot new production processes. The process engineers often work independently in overseeing the overall efficiency of the plant, but they also partner with plant personnel to understand what developments would benefit the production line the most.
- Auto designer
National average salary: $89,471 per year
Auto designers are responsible for developing the appearance of the interior and exterior of the car. They combine art, engineering and business to make the car visually pleasing, aerodynamic, functional and cost-effective. They use creativity to seamlessly incorporate all required mechanical, electrical, technical and comfort features into the vehicle. The designer partners with the auto engineer to create and implement the technological systems in an efficient way. They also work with the process engineer to implement an efficient manufacturing process for the aesthetic components.
- Quality testing engineer
National average salary: $90,562 per year
Quality testing engineers are responsible for testing all components of a vehicle to ensure proper function and safety. They typically specialize in a specific area of the vehicle, such as crash testing, electronics, system integration or wireless connectivity. They develop a test case, execute the test and resolve any quality defects. These engineers partner with their cross-functional teams regularly to ensure the entire vehicle meets the highest quality standards.
- Automotive Body and Glass Repairers
National average salary: $41,330
When people are involved in a car accident or get a chip in their vehicle’s windshield, they may need the services of an automotive body or glass repairer. Body repairers focus on identifying damage to parts like the doors, panels or frames of a car or truck. Automotive glass repairers may install a new windshield or take measures to keep cracks in a windshield from spreading. Although formal training in this field can be an asset (and is increasingly preferred by employers), it is possible to become an automotive body or glass repairer with a high school diploma and on-the-job training.
- Transportation Equipment Painters
National average salary: $66,590
The field of painting and coating can entail working with a wide variety of products, but individuals specifically interested in working with automobiles (including cars, buses and trucks) can become transportation equipment painters or automotive painters. These professionals typically use specialized spray guns to paint new vehicles or to refinish older models. Employment as a painting and coating worker usually requires a high school diploma or the equivalent, but there are programs available at vocational schools that train students to paint automobiles.
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- Industrial Designers
National average salary: $40,710
Industrial designers’ work impacts most people’s lives every day because they are responsible for designing and redesigning products to make them more functional or user-friendly than past versions. Industrial designers can focus on a number of manufactured items, including automobiles. They can design a new car model, or they may alter an existing vehicle model to keep it up-to-date with competitors or incorporate new features. Industrial designers can start out in their field with a bachelor’s degree in industrial design or a similar discipline.
- Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics
National average salary: $124,220
Automotive service technicians and mechanics work with vehicles on a regular basis to ensure that they are maintained or repaired. They specifically work with standard-sized vehicles, such as trucks, vans and cars. Their work may involve routine tasks, such as changing the oil or more extensive tests to diagnose and repair a problem with a car’s systems. Automotive service technicians and mechanics need postsecondary training; a certificate or associate’s degree is required, and they may also need certification.
- Diesel Service Technicians and Mechanics
National average salary: $47,350
Diesel service technicians and mechanics perform maintenance and repair work on vehicles that have diesel-powered engines, such as buses and construction vehicles. Although they can learn through on-the-job training with a high school diploma, they may find they have more job options if they earn a postsecondary certificate or associate’s degree that trains them to work with diesel engines. They may perform a range of tasks and need to be familiar with the systems in diesel-powered vehicles.
We believe the information we have shared in this article will guide you on the best automotive job to choose.