Hey guys, it feels like an eternity since I’ve been on here, never mind posted. I’ve been going through some big life changes, including the huge one that this post is going to be about.
Before I was an automotive tech, although I always had a love of cars, I had a love of computers as well. I was always of the belief that these two entities should be kept separate however as the old cars were always my true passion for their purity and style. I worked full time as a computer repair bench technician at about 11 dollars an hour in my late teens. No college degree and no certifications, only self-taught experience. All the while I worked there, I was working on my own vehicles and wanted to turn my hobby into a career just as I did with the computers.
I had romanticized about the idea of working more with my hands, watching all the old 50s,60s,70s based TV shows and movies making the trade look appealing. Typically the mechanics would be working with purely mechanical and hydraulic systems in stylish classic American cars. This ignited my interest into a roaring flame.
So I went to a great, expensive technical college where I live for automotive to get some credentials.
I graduated top of my class with an associate’s degree in auto tech along with multiple certifications.
Upon graduation, I got my first job in the field a GM dealership. I was ecstatic. I was started at 10 dollars
an hour(which I was semi shocked at but at the time I didn’t care), I was promised a raise within the first two months to 12 bucks an hour. This promise never came to pass, even as I started doing a lot of the electrical work because that was my greatest strength I had over the other guys. 6 months had passed, and I was upset. I was making less than I did at an entry level computer repair position with no degree or credentials. The work was also not what I wanted. PDIs galore as well as tires, oil changes and warranty work aside from the occasional electrical stuff. Not the beautiful romanticized vison of the field I had in my mind.
My boss, the service manager told me to take it up with the general manager and so I did. I gave my two weeks’ notice, without having another job lined up. Luckily I didn’t live on my own and had minimal bills as well as a side job I had been working since my early twenties to fall back on.
Techs I had known for that short 6 months actually begged me to stay because of my electrical ability and my overall helpfulness, but my mind was made up. I will not work like a dog for nothing I told myself.
I put my resume out there while I worked the side job as well as doing automotive work by referral.
It didn’t take long before I was once again contacted for a job. This time it was at an independent shop for 15 dollars an hour. Initially I was very happy, but the boss and I truly never got along and it turned sour quickly.
So I went back to what I had done before, send resumes out and work on the side. I got a job at firestone shortly after, for 11 dollars an hour, the same amount from years prior as an entry computer tech with no credentials. Again, there was no raise involved and even the flat rate hourly pay was horrible. We were also treated worse than monkeys and had no respect. I left after about 5 months when I received a call from an independent shop I had put a resume in 2 YEARS PRIOR as if there were a waiting list to get into this place.
I was offered 13 dollars an hour and took the offer to simply return to the independent shop experience as I have to say, aside from fleet is the best route. However, months down the line the shop owner started to nitpick every little thing I did from where I parked the cars to what type of clamp I used.
I was sick of him trying to tell me how to do my job and I spoke out. I was let go on the spot.
That was the final straw I then compiled a list of reasons to leave the career for good and made a decision to return to school for computer engineering which I have about a year and a half left before I graduate with my bachelor’s degree.
Here were my reasons for leaving this field for good and getting a higher degree in Computer Engineering:
1. The physical strain on the body which damages you
2. The toxic chemicals which damage your health
3. The treatment of the mechanics by management/shop owners
4. The lack of pay for work and time put in
5. The amount needed to be invested in tools when in engineering the company pays for everything including a cubicle or office.
6. New cars being the way they are, more work for less pay and because my real passion is old cars from the 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s. Newer cars don’t excite me.
7. Lack of respect by the general public when they hear I’m a mechanic
8. I’m getting engaged and want kids and a nice house…Hard to do on a mechanics salary.
9. I want to be around for said wife and kids on a NORMAL work schedule and not be physically tired when I get home from work so they can have my attention
10. I want to be able to fund my hobbies of computers AND cars
11. I’m basically working on a rolling computer, I might as well get paid for working with computers.
12. I have more of an engineering mind, which can cause me to overthink things, which is counterproductive to pushing cars through the door at a fast pace. My mind is better suited to design and build rather than work on impulse and tactile feedback.
13. Being a mechanic as you know it may come to an end soon enough. I don’t like it as much as the next guy, but automation, self-driving and hydrogen powered cars are coming. Cars will be complete throwaways before you know it and require a electrical engineering degree to work on. Unless you just want to do tires. I would rather be the guy programming and designing computer systems so I have job security.
14. It was RUINING the hobby for me and making me resent cars to the point where I wouldn’t work on my own.
Overall, I feel like I made the right choice. This trade was not a good match for me, however, quite a few of these reasons are applicable to many of you.
Consider your escape plan. That is my recommendation to you. And to anyone thinking about getting into this trade, consider your options….please. I would recommend you avoid it if you can.
Thanks for reading!
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