Guide to 14 Automotive Careers (With Duties and Salaries)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 6 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A career in the automotive industry offers a variety of opportunities to work with vehicles and the latest technology. Careers in the automotive field cover many career paths, such as sales, customer service, design, repair, maintenance and teaching. If you're interested in a career that involves cars, it may help you know what options are available to you and what those jobs involve. In this article, we list 14 different automotive careers that you can pursue.

14 automotive careers to explore

Here are some automotive careers you may want to pursue:

1. Car detailer

National average salary: $51,802 per year

Primary duties: A car detailer cleans the exterior and interior of vehicles. Interiors require vacuum cleaning of footwells and seats and wiping down of interior surfaces to clean, restore and protect them. They can also wash and polish the exterior of the vehicle. Other services may include steaming and deodorising carpets, buffing paintwork and applying protective finishes to the exterior. Buffing wheel rims and blackening tyres may be part of the treatment. Car detailers communicate with clients to determine what services they would like. They may drive client cars around areas of the workshop to complete the work.

2. Car rental agent

National average salary: $60,540 per year

Primary duties: Car rental agents help clients who need to use a vehicle temporarily. They check that all a client's paperwork is correct and advise them on which car to choose. They perform vehicle checks before the car leaves the lot and on return to make sure there is no damage to the vehicle. It is useful for car rental agents to be familiar with the technological features and operation of a variety of vehicle types. Being comfortable driving different types of cars around the lot is a helpful skill for a rental agent.

3. Tyre technician

National average salary: $113.407 per year

Primary duties: Tyre technicians repair and replace car tyres. They may also check wheel balancing and alignment after replacing a vehicle's tyres. A tyre technician will know the specifications of various tyres, including specialised tyres such as those for off-road environments. Tyre technicians may work at a tyre repair shop or in large auto body shops as part of an automotive technician team.

4. Vehicle quality assurance inspector

National average salary: $60,299 per year

Primary duties: Vehicle inspectors check vehicles to make sure they meet safety standards by recommending repairs and reporting violations. They drive cars to check for malfunctions and examine them for damages. Using mechanical and electrical testing devices, a vehicle inspector examines components for incorrect settings or faults. They check any vehicle customisations to make sure the car still meets the required regulations. They also analyse a vehicle's emission levels. If repairs are necessary, the vehicle inspector will check the cars again after repairs to ensure that the repaired vehicle meets quality standards.

5. Automotive technical trainer

National average salary: $92,343 per year

Primary duties: Automotive technical trainers work in high schools or universities to teach students about fixing engines, mechanical features and electrical systems in cars. They may specialise in a specific maintenance area, or teach the basics of vehicle components and workings. Usually, they work in a shop-style classroom. In this setting, students get hands-on experience in vehicle repair and maintenance under the guidance of their instructor. To work as an auto instructor, you'll need state-specific teaching qualifications.

6. Panel beater

National average salary: $70,789 per year

Primary duties: Panel beaters work to fix and restore damaged vehicles. Their focus is on the body and appearance of the vehicle and not on the mechanical components. They take damaged vehicles and make the exterior look new again by removing dents, scratches and other imperfections. They respray the vehicle with paint tinted to match existing paintwork. Strong customer service skills are important for panel beaters as they interact with customers directly. Panel beaters with business skills and experience may provide customers with upfront estimates of cost and time.

7. Auto mechanic

National average salary: $67,324 per year

Primary duties: Auto mechanics perform diagnostic tests, mechanical repairs and routine maintenance on cars, small trucks and vans. Maintenance covers things such as part lubrication and fluid changes, as well as checking and updating the car's electronic system. Mechanical repairs involve diagnosing engine faults and replacing or calibrating faulty parts. Newer vehicles can have issues diagnosed through computerised diagnostic machines. An auto mechanic usually provides quotations on the work they undertake before starting.

8. Auto electrician

National average salary: $51,261 per year

Primary duties: Auto electricians install and maintain car electrical systems that control vehicle systems such as headlights, dashboard lights, circuit boards, starter motors and alarm systems. They diagnose electrical issues and repair faulty wiring or electrical systems. Communicating with customers is part of their job description, firstly to gather information to help with the diagnosis, secondly to give an estimated time frame and cost. They often work in mechanical and auto body shops along with other technicians, although they focus on their specialisation.

9. Tow truck driver

National average salary: $62,125 per year

Primary duties: Tow truck drivers respond to emergency call-outs to attend to damaged or disabled vehicles on the road. They assess the scene and decide on the best way to get to the vehicle. With an accident, getting to the vehicle to attach to the tow truck can be challenging and the tow truck driver makes use of good judgement and experience to extract the vehicle safely.

They attach the immobilised vehicle to the tow truck either by chain or tow bar to take it away, usually to a designated repair shop or to the yard. A tow truck driver has a basic knowledge of vehicles and can perform simple functions such as jump-starting, reconnecting loose parts or changing a tyre to get the vehicle going again when possible.

10. Car salesperson

National average salary: $82,670 per year

Primary duties: A car salesperson deals directly with customers to help them buy the right car for their needs. They have a broad knowledge of the differences between makes and models of cars. A knowledgeable salesperson can explain the features of each car to help potential buyers make an informed choice. They build a rapport with their customers and ask the right questions to gain understanding of what the customer is looking for in a vehicle. A car salesperson may work closely with a marketing team on strategies to draw in and engage with new clients.

11. Automotive sales manager

National average salary: $92,286 per year

Primary duties: Auto sales managers are in charge of car dealerships with a primary focus to generate revenue and ensure customer satisfaction. They use their experience to estimate vehicle demand and preferences for the area to maintain inventory levels. They also manage a team of car salespeople. Auto sales managers work with other vehicle dealers to initiate and negotiate vehicle trades and approve discounted vehicle prices for promotions. The sales manager works with the marketing department to organise public relations events and advertising campaigns.

12. Automotive mechanical engineer

National average salary: $89,238 per year

Primary duties: Automotive mechanical engineers aim to make vehicles more efficient through new technologies using the principles of fluid dynamics, mechanical engineering and aerodynamics. They combine research, development and design to improve the technical systems in vehicles. Working with designers and engineers, they develop new technologies for fuel, navigation, control and warning systems.

An auto engineer may improve on existing technology or develop new designs inspired by market trends. Part of the design process is to troubleshoot any problems and resolve them before production begins. Auto engineers work with process engineers to work out the most effective manufacturing process for the components and parts.

Related: What Does an Auto Engineer Do? And How To Become One

13. Vehicle testing engineer

National average salary: $96,630 per year

Primary duties: Vehicle testing engineers work with engineers throughout the vehicle development process. They test prototypes of components and parts in the early design stages. Test engineers work alongside process line engineers to make sure every component operates up to standard. Closer to launch, test engineers work with quality engineers to analyse results to ensure the fully assembled vehicles are up to the expected level of quality and safety.

14. Driving instructor

National average salary: $44.12 per hour

Primary duties: A driving instructor teaches learner drivers how to drive a vehicle safely and incorporate all the rules of the road practically. They teach their students theoretical knowledge and practical skills to equip them to be safe, competent drivers. This may include driver skills such as the different methods of parking, how to enter traffic from a hill-start safely and emergency braking. They evaluate a student's progress and provide feedback on their performance. A driving instructor prepares their students for taking the driver's test and operating a vehicle safely and confidently.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries and the quoted websites at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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