By Debbie Holden 04 Dec 2017 7 min read

Automotive jobs: The complete guide

There are many roles available in the automotive industry, from fleet managers to breakdown engineers, and you’re sure to find one that matches your skillset.

It can sometimes be difficult to navigate your employment options, especially if you’re at the start of your career, so we’ve put this guide together to help get you started. It takes you through some of the top roles in the industry and explains the responsibilities, qualifications, and skills for each. It will also give you an idea of the salaries that employees take home for each role.

If you’re interested in working in the automotive industry but aren’t quite sure what job is for you, this is a great place to start. Whether you’re interested in business, manufacturing, or even sales, find a role that suits you here.

Car mechanic
Automotive electrician
Breakdown engineer
Fleet manager
Automotive sales
Service advisor
Vehicle fitter
Vehicle manufacturing worker
Paint sprayer
Panel beater

Car mechanic

Car mechanics usually work for automotive manufacturers or for independent garages. They are required to carry out services and MOTs on vehicles. They also diagnose and repair any issues that arise with vehicles between services.

  • Carrying out vehicle checks
  • Making any necessary repairs
  • Testing repairs
  • Carrying out MOTs
  • Carrying out vehicle services
  • Estimating time and cost of work
  • Maintaining vehicle records

To qualify for a role as a car mechanic you will need a Light Vehicle Maintenance and Repair qualification at level 2. This is usually obtained through an apprenticeship. A good set of GCSEs and work experience will improve your career prospects.

  • Attention to detail
  • Good problem-solving skills
  • A good level of coordination
  • Communication skills
  • Technical ability and mindset

Average car mechanic salaries (£)*

Automotive electrician

Automotive electricians look after the electrical components of vehicles. They are responsible for diagnosing any faults, making repairs, or replacing broken parts if necessary. As the amount of electric and hybrid cars rises, the demand for electricians will also increase so the prospects for this career choice are positive.

  • Diagnosing faults with testing equipment
  • Carrying out repairs
  • Replacing broken electrical parts
  • Testing repairs
  • Maintaining repair records
  • Estimating time and cost of work to be carried out

To become an automotive electrician, you will usually need to complete an apprenticeship. You could also take courses in Vehicle Maintenance and Repair at college level to help strengthen your application for a job.

  • Communication skills
  • Problem solving skills
  • Attention to detail
  • A good level of coordination
  • A technical way of thinking

Average automotive electrician salaries (£)*

Breakdown engineer

Breakdown engineers are on hand to help those who have broken down on the side of the road. They travel to where the vehicle has broken down and repair it on site if possible. In some cases, the vehicle will need to be towed to a garage to carry out the necessary repair.

  • Travelling to broken down vehicles
  • Ensuring the safety of the passengers
  • Diagnosing the cause of the breakdown
  • Carrying out repairs on the roadside or at a garage
  • Keeping records of repairs

You will need a valid driving licence and a licence for the type of vehicle you will be repairing. The usual qualification route for this job is through an apprenticeship. You could also qualify through working as a mechanic or engineer at a garage.

  • Communication skills
  • Problem solving skills
  • The ability to stay calm under pressure
  • A good level of coordination
  • Computer skills

Average breakdown engineer salaries (£)*

Fleet manager

Fleet managers are responsible for looking after the vehicles owned by an organisation. They look after the scheduling, maintenance, and the records of vehicles. They are also responsible for managing drivers.

  • Organising schedules and budgets for the fleet
  • Purchasing the appropriate vehicles
  • Ensuring the vehicles are correctly maintained
  • Arranging insurance for the fleet
  • Managing client contracts
  • Managing drivers

There are no set qualifications for this role, however, experience in administration or logistics could help your prospects. Experience in a managerial role will help to prove that you are capable of organising a fleet. Qualifications such as degrees in marketing or business are valued by employers.

  • Communication skills
  • Managerial skills
  • Computer literacy
  • Negotiating skills
  • A high level of organisation

Average fleet manager salaries (£)*

Automotive sales

An automotive salesperson is responsible for helping customers view, test drive, and ultimately buy a vehicle. They will usually work in a showroom, sometimes on a shift basis. They are also responsible for accompanying customers on test drives.

  • Speaking with customers to understand what they need
  • Suggesting vehicles
  • Accompanying customers on test drives
  • Negotiating prices
  • Keeping the appropriate records for each sale

There are no set qualifications for this role and most dealerships will offer their own training when you start. More important are things like a good work ethic, customer service skills, and the ability to communicate well.

  • Negotiation skills
  • Communication skills
  • IT skills

Average automotive sales salaries (£)*

Take home pay can be significantly higher with commission.

Service advisor

Service advisors are the line of communication between the customer and the mechanic working on their vehicle. This is a customer service role and the main duty is to ensure that the quality of work meets the expectations of the customer.

  • Taking bookings and answering questions from customers
  • Giving advice to customers on the servicing of their vehicle
  • Selling additional products to customers
  • Updating customer records and servicing details
  • Taking payment and explaining the cost of the work carried out

You will need GCSEs in English and Maths. Further education to college or even degree level would help you stand out to potential employers. Experience in a customer service role would be very valuable for this role.

  • Customer service skills
  • Good communication skills
  • Some ability as a sales person
  • Good organisation skills
  • The ability to explain technical details

Average service advisor salaries (£)*

Vehicle fitter

A vehicle fitter will replace or repair vehicle parts that are worn or have been damaged. This can involve working on vehicles from motorcycles to HGVs and typically involves working with batteries, tyres, and exhausts.

  • Diagnosing issues with vehicles
  • Advising customers on the best course of action to repair their vehicle
  • Repairing parts
  • Replacing parts
  • Carrying out tests on the repairs that have been made

You could qualify for this role via an apprenticeship which will teach you all the skills you’ll need for the job. The company that offers you the apprenticeship may take you on after you have finished your training. There are also vocational qualifications that you could take at college level in courses relating to vehicle maintenance and repair.

  • Problem solving skills
  • Communication skills
  • Logical way of thinking
  • Good coordination and level of general fitness

Average vehicle fitter salaries (£)*

Vehicle manufacturing worker

A vehicle manufacturing worker will usually be responsible for part of the production line at a vehicle manufacturing factory. This can require a range of skills depending on what part of the line you’re working on.

  • Preparing parts for the production line
  • Assembling parts prior to fitting to the vehicle
  • Fixing parts to the frame of the vehicle
  • Carrying out quality control checks
  • Paint spraying

You will need GCSEs in English and Maths and a vocational qualification at college level in a subject such as vehicle maintenance could help your application stand out to recruiters. Manufacturers will offer in-house training so previous experience is not necessary but could help to strengthen your application.

  • Good teamworking skills
  • Organisation
  • High level of accuracy
  • Good coordination

Average vehicle manufacturing salaries (£)*

Paint sprayer

Paint sprayers are needed in the maintenance and repair of vehicles to repair chips and scratches to the bodywork of vehicles. While most cars are sprayed by machines when they are manufactured, customised cars are usually sprayed by hand.

  • Preparing and mixing the paint
  • Preparing the bodywork of the vehicle to be sprayed
  • Applying several coats of paint and finishes to the body of a vehicle
  • Maintaining equipment and storing paints correctly
  • Maintaining stock levels of paint

You could qualify for this role through an apprenticeship. Alternatively, work experience could help your application stand out to recruiters. There are also courses in vehicle body and paint operations that can be taken at college level.

  • An eye for detail
  • Normal colour vision
  • Good level of coordination
  • The ability to concentrate for long periods

Average paint sprayer salaries (£)*

Panel beater

Panel beaters are responsible for repairing the bodywork of cars with dents or rust. They will use a variety of metalworking skills to repair rusted sections, remove dents, and finish bodywork to match the rest of the vehicle.

  • Removing dents from a vehicle’s bodywork
  • Repairing rusted panels
  • Replacing any panels that are beyond repair
  • Finishing the repair to match the rest of the vehicle
  • Briefing paint sprayers
  • Maintaining records of the repairs carried out

You will need a minimum of GCSEs in English and Maths. There are apprenticeships available for this role, or you could take a vocational qualification in vehicle maintenance and repair at college level.

  • Attention to detail
  • Problem solving skills
  • Good coordination and level of general fitness
  • Good communication skills

Average panel beater salaries (£)*

*Please note that all salaries are intended as a guide.

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