The auto industry is a huge job creator in the U.S., and New Jersey is no exception. With over 7 million automobiles on the road in 2015, according to Auto Alliance, New Jersey might be a good place to start your career in the automotive industry. After all, vehicles need constant repair and upkeep to remain operable, and those repairs extend beyond basic engine work. Automotive professionals are also needed to perform body repair to vehicles as well.
Fortunately, automotive schools in New Jersey can prepare you to do all of this work and more. The National Center for Education Statistics lists 17 New Jersey trade schools and community colleges that offer degree programs and certifications in automotive repair and maintenance. To decide which field you belong in, start by exploring the different career options available for automotive workers.
Since cars have so many working components, some automotive professionals choose to specialize in a certain segment of the automotive industry. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lists the following specialties as most common:
- Automotive body repairers use special tools to remove dents and repair car parts after a collision.
- Automotive glass installers and repairers remove damaged glass from automobiles and install new glass. Occasionally, they may also repair damaged glass.
- Automotive air conditioning repairers use their skills and expertise to repair faulty air conditioners and perform maintenance that keeps them in working condition.
- Brake repairers adjust and repair a car's brakes. Some brake repairers also specialize in front-end work.
- Front-end repairers focus on repairing the front-end of vehicles with a focus on brakes, suspension, and steering mechanisms.
- Transmissions technicians work on various parts of an engine's transmission with a focus on keeping transmissions operable.
Automotive Certifications and Degree Programs
The BLS states that a high school diploma is typically the minimum requirement to enter the automotive service field, and most spend years of learning on-the-job to master the craft. However, cars become more sophisticated each year, so employers may prefer to hire automotive workers who have completed a postsecondary education program. Most automotive schools in New Jersey offer programs lasting 6 months or longer, which include both classroom instruction and hands-on demonstrations. Although it's not always the case, some automotive workers earn an associate's degree in automotive repair, automotive mechanics, or another specialty. Courses covered in these programs typically cover topics such as electronics, mathematics, computers, automotive repair and English.
Although certification is not necessarily a requirement, many automotive workers choose to become certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. There are eight areas of certification available:
- Automatic transmission/transaxle
- Electrical/electronic systems
- Engine performance
- Engine repair
- Heating and air-conditioning
- Manual drive train and axles
- Suspension and steering
Becoming certified is usually recognized by employers and could lead to greater job opportunities or higher pay, according to the BLS. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also requires all automotive technicians that work with refrigerants to become certified to do so.
Automotive Salary and Career Outlook
According to the BLS, automotive body and related repairers in New Jersey earned an annual mean wage of $43,150 in 2013, while automotive service technicians and mechanics earned an annual mean wage of $44,440. New Jersey was also listed as the third highest paying state for automotive service technicians and mechanics in 2013. The following regions in New Jersey employed the most automotive service technicians and mechanics in 2013:
- Newark - Union - NJ-PA: 4,800
- Edison-New Brunswick: 4,020
- Camden, 2,790
When it comes to potential career growth, the future looks bright in nearly every automotive career. According to the BLS, the following jobs expect excellent growth nationals from 2012 to 2022:
- Automotive glass installers and repairers: 14%
- Automotive body and glass repairers: 13%
- Automotive body and related repairers: 13%
- Automotive service technicians and mechanics: 9%
If you love cars and working with your hands, pursuing your studies at automotive schools in New Jersey might be an excellent idea. And since cars are everywhere, your skills will likely be in high demand for years to come. If you're interested in getting started, all you need to do is start researching different programs and find one that meets your needs and schedule. Within a timeframe of less than a year, you could easily be on the fast track to your new career.
- Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes493023.htm
- Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/automotive-service-technicians-and-mechanics.htm#tab-1
- Automotive Body and Glass Repairers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/automotive-body-and-glass-repairers.htm#tab-1
- College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?s=NJ&p=47.0604+15.0803
- Long-Term Occupational Projections, Projections Central, http://projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
- New Jersey, Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2013 Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nj.htm#49-0000