Many auto technicians find 40 hours a week is all the time they want to spend working. Others, however, leave their main job at day's end to work elsewhere.
Part-time jobs for skilled technicians abound, and many techs take advantage of these opportunities by plying their trade in the evening and on the weekends. Often, they moonlight in their own garage. This can add to their income as well as create a springboard that makes starting their own full-time garage easier, if they should ever want to take that step.
But not all part-time jobs held by auto technicians involve repairing vehicles. The skills and knowledge you use on the shop floor also translate to other fields.
Often, these side jobs will require other talents, too. Fortunately, acquiring these additional capabilities can make your career more interesting, allow you to make new contacts and even make you more valuable to your full-time employer.
Teaching requires intelligence, above-average communication skills and enthusiasm. Teaching auto technology also requires a thorough working knowledge of the subject, so your on-the-shop floor experience is invaluable.
Lois Gottlieb of the Vernon Continuing Education Department in Vernon, Connecticut, employs experienced mechanics to teach classes in automotive and small-engine repair. "Adult students taking these courses are happy to be getting some direction from people in the industry," she says.
Opportunities in auto instruction range from beginning adult-education classes to seminars for skilled professionals. In between are opportunities at technical schools and colleges. Many full-time faculty members in auto technology started teaching part-time while working full-time as auto technicians.
Even technicians who fall short of the elite master level may succeed in the classroom. "Teaching definitely requires interpersonal skills that almost have to be natural," Gottlieb says. "People who teach do not have to be the best at doing what they do in order to be wonderful instructors."
Technicians as Writers
In some ways, writing is simply another form of teaching. Skilled auto technicians have built interesting part-time careers writing about what they know best for newspapers, magazines and Web sites.
Many newspaper readers enjoy reading question-and-answer-format columns. Mass-circulation magazines occasionally publish articles on the subject of auto repair and maintenance. Add the large number of automotive Web sites, and the opportunities for an auto tech to take pen in hand and earn an extra dollar or two are numerous. Many writers for magazines that focus on your trade are full-time technicians.
Techs on the Radio
Most radio markets have at least one automotive program, many of which are syndicated. Whether heard on one station or 100, the one thing these programs have in common is the need for a knowledgeable auto technician behind the microphone. Why shouldn't you be that person?
Neal Kwort, who owns his own garage and has worked in auto repair for years, began his radio program after attending broadcasting school. He has been hosting a radio show for more than six years on WTAG in Worcester, Massachusetts, as well as comparable shows on other New England radio stations.
"I started as a guest and then got my own show," he says. "I enjoy it very much."
You Fix Cars; Why Not Sell Them?
While it may not happen often, occasionally a technician or service writer crosses over to sales.
The fact that you know cars doesn't necessarily mean you can sell them, of course. However, product knowledge is essential for any salesperson. In addition, the credibility that can come with having fixed the vehicles you sell may go a long way in helping you succeed with many customers.
Other Part-Time Possibilities
Many auto technicians have transferable skills suitable for the following part-time jobs:
- Driving instructor
- Printing-press maintenance and repair technician
- Computer-repair technician
- Emergency medical technician (EMT)
If becoming an EMT seems like a stretch for you, remember that EMTs, like auto technicians, need to diagnose problems before trying to fix them.