Between the historically low unemployment rate and limited job seekers interest in dealership careers, hiring auto technicians has never been more challenging. As Baby Boomers reach retirement age and the labor market continues to be tight, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates 46,000 automotive service technicians and mechanics will be needed to fill roles through 2026.
Given the expected talent shortage, what can your dealership do to ensure you’re hiring auto technicians who are qualified to drive productivity and profitability for your business? Below, we’ve outlined several ways the auto technician hiring landscape has changed in the past decade, and how you can adapt your recruitment and hiring strategy based on these changes. 

1. Hiring auto technicians is similar to hiring computer engineers

Many job seekers and others both inside and outside the retail automotive industry have the misconception that working as an auto technician means changing oil and other greasy, “wrench turning” tasks. While this might have been true several years ago, it’s no longer the case. Most cars today rely on sensors, computers and other advanced technology, meaning auto technician roles require a much different skill set than they did in the past.
Today’s auto technicians have such advanced skills that one dealer even said they have similar responsibilities to computer engineers – meaning prospective employees are also attractive to employers in other industries. While some traditional responsibilities – such as vehicle tune ups – are still required of auto technicians – the role has changed significantly throughout the past decade and it’s important for your dealership to make this clear in your recruitment materials. 
Gone are the days when automotive technicians spend a lot of time poking around car engines to figure out what needs to be fixed. Rather, they tend to use computerized diagnostic equipment and instead of taking several hours to diagnose what needs to be fixed, it can take as little as 30 minutes – giving service technicians more time to actually repair cars. This ultimately leads to increased profitability and heightened customer service for your dealership – and you want to hire employees who are passionate about diagnostic equipment and related tasks. 
Since the role requires skills and knowledge similar to computer engineers, your dealership needs to outline this on your career site and in job descriptions – both to attract auto technicians from other dealerships and from outside the industry. 

2. Auto technician roles offer a cost-effective alternative to four-year degrees 

In 2019, student loan debt hit an all-time high of $1.6 trillion. But as four-year degree costs continue to rise, working as an auto technician offers significant earnings and career growth potential without the costs associated with a college degree. 
A career as an automotive service technician enables job seekers with a passion for computers and technology the opportunity to essentially work as computer engineers without the student loan debt they’d likely incur with similar jobs in other industries. 
While not as much as the costs of a four-year degree, training and tool expenses can add up quickly for auto technicians. Some advanced technicians spend as much as $50,000 on tools over the course of their careers – as they move up the career ladder and automotive technology continues to evolve. These costs alone might be enough to turn away qualified job seekers from your open roles
To stand out and attract top talent in today’s competitive hiring market, one step your dealership can take is providing entry-level employees with the tools they need to succeed – both from a physical tool perspective and a training perspective – and continuing to provide assistance throughout their careers at your dealership. By highlighting the opportunity for tool and training reimbursement on your career site and in your job descriptions, you can attract motivated job seekers who are eager to build long-term careers with your dealership. 

3. Today’s job seekers demand defined career paths 

When it comes to hiring auto technicians – or hiring for any role at your dealership – now more than ever, job seekers want to work for employers that offer defined career paths. Some job seekers might not fully realize the growth opportunities auto technician careers offer. Beyond simply entry-level technician roles, many technicians have the opportunity to hold management and leadership roles at dealerships. For example, former AutoNation CEO, Mike Jackson, started his career as a technician for a Mercedes-Benz Dealership, ultimately serving as president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA, overseeing U.S. sales operation and 311 franchised dealerships before joining AutoNation.
On your career site, highlight all possible career paths for auto technicians and any other relevant roles at your dealership. You can do so by including a visual of each step along the way or by highlighting employee success stories about automotive technicians who have risen through the ranks at your dealership. Defined career paths can excite prospective employees who are researching jobs online about the career opportunities beyond entry-level service roles.
With the right strategy in place for hiring auto technicians, you can attract qualified, motivated job seekers who might have otherwise considered roles in other industries.
This year, Hireology is celebrating 10 years of helping dealers and other businesses across industries attract and hire their best teams. For additional information on how you can attract qualified employees for roles across your dealership, see a demo today.