As an automotive electrician, you will be responsible for assessing the electrical systems of vehicles and making repairs where necessary on the likes of headlight, diagnostic lights, alarm systems, circuit boards, alternators and starter motors. You will also install new electronic equipment.
Automotive electricians will usually specialise in a type of vehicle. These could be light vehicles, including cars and motorcycles, or heavy vehicles, including buses and lorries. You could specialise further and work on a specific model.
The electrical systems of modern cars are becoming more and more complicated and with the number of electric cars being produced on the up, the need for automotive electricians is also increasing. If you are practical, have good problem solving skills, and have an interest in the automotive industry, a career as an automotive electrician could be for you. Read on to find out more.
What does an automotive electrician do?
Day-to-day responsibilities might include:
- Assessing the electrical system of a vehicle using diagnostic testing equipment.
- Using readings to diagnose faults and decide how best to repair them.
- Carrying out repairs or replacing broken parts.
- Using electrical diagrams to help find faults.
- Carrying out tests on the vehicle to ensure that it has been properly repaired.
- Discussing the work to be carried out with the customer.
- Estimating the cost of the work to be carried out and how long it is likely to take.
- Keeping records of the work that has been carried out and updating the vehicle documents.
What qualifications do you need to become an automotive electrician?
The usual route into this career is via an apprenticeship. To get an apprenticeship, you will usually need at least four GCSEs at grades A*-C *(9-4). Work experience in a garage would strengthen your application.
There are also courses available at college level which cover automotive electrical work. You could also take one of the courses offered by City & Guilds, such as Vehicle Maintenance and Repair, Technicals in Automotive, and Advanced Auto Diagnostic Techniques. These will help prepare you for an apprenticeship or help strengthen your application for a job.
What skills do you need to become an automotive electrician?
Problem solving skills: You will need to be able to think logically when diagnosing issues with electrical systems and deciding how to fix them.
Communication skills: You will need to be able to explain technical issues to your customers and help them make decisions about the work required for their vehicles.
Attention to detail: You will need to have an eye for detail and be very accurate when making repairs.
Coordination: Some tasks may be quite delicate and will require good hand-to-eye coordination.
Desire to keep up with technological advances: The automotive industry is evolving rapidly and you will need to learn new skills as and when required.
How much does an automotive electrician earn?
Starting salary: £15,000 – £18,500
Experienced: £18,500 – £29,000
These figures are intended as a guide and come from the National Careers Service.
According to our most recent annual report, the average salary for an automotive electrician in 2019 was £30,250.
Take a look at the map below to find out what the average automotive electrician salary is in your area. The figures come from 2020 InAutomotive data.
What are your career prospects as an automotive electrician?
You will take on more responsibility as you gain experience and could start leading a team of electricians as a supervisor or manager.
You could become a specialist in a type of vehicle or use your skills to start your own business.