How to get a job in automotive

This is the fourth instalment in our Be ambitious in 2017 series. This time we're taking a look under the bonnet of the automotive industry and the many job opportunities it has to offer.

It's safe to say that there'll always be a demand for the services of qualified mechanics.

[quote]As long as Australians' love affair with their cars and other vehicles continues, they'll always need people to repair and maintain them.[/quote]

You'll also be in good company. Did you know that Queen Elizabeth II got her hands dirty as a mechanic during WWII?

It's also an interesting and varied occupation with never a dull moment. You can be doing suspension work on Monday, building an engine or gearbox on Wednesday and solving an electrical problem on Friday.

So how do you make your break into the automotive industry?

Firstly, there are a couple of check-boxes you'll probably need to tick. Things like a keen interest in motor vehicles and a basic understanding of the internal combustion engine. You'll also need to have a good eye for detail, as you'll be working with the intricate component parts of machines and mechanical systems. You need to be good with your hands and have some basic mechanical aptitude. Plus a good level of physical fitness (this ain't no desk job).

Oh, and you'll find it helpful to have a current driver's licence. How else are you going to test-drive your work?

How do you qualify as a mechanic?

You'll need to have completed secondary school with satisfactory grades in English, maths and science. It's also preferable to have studied trade or industrial arts subjects at school such as metalwork or technical drawing.

The best way to significantly increase your chances of finding an apprenticeship is to enrol for the Certificate III in Light Vehicle Mechanical Technology with TAFE NSW. There are a range of automotive courses on offer with TAFE NSW, but this one is the most suitable for someone just starting out as it has no entry requirements and is suitable for an Australian apprenticeship pathway.

[quote]Did you know you can begin your TAFE studies while you're still at school?[/quote]

This is through the TAFE NSW TVET program. TVET stands for "TAFE-delivered vocational education and training", and automotive is among the industry areas that are eligible. It means you can learn valuable workplace skills and gain hands-on experience while you're still at school, increasing your prospects of gaining an apprenticeship. These units can count towards your HSC. Upon completion of your TVET course you'll be awarded a Certificate qualification or statement of attainment which is nationally accredited and recognised. If you're interested in starting your training while still at school, speak to a career advisor either at your school or your nearest TAFE NSW campus.

[quote]Studying for your trade at TAFE is a great start, but still doesn't necessarily guarantee an apprenticeship.[/quote]

How you can help yourself

There's a lot of competition for mechanical apprenticeships, so you'll need to give your efforts some extra revving to put you ahead of everyone else.  In other words, you'll need to literally put yourself out there by pounding the pavement. That is, personally approaching the garages in your local area and asking if they'd consider taking you on as an apprentice. You never know your luck when taking this personal approach. Not only is Australia currently in the midst of a skills shortage, but employers who take on new mechanic apprentices may be eligible for financial incentives in the form of government subsidies. Taking you on as a new apprentice can be a win-win situation, both for your employer and for you.

What's next?

Think you might be a good fit for a career in automotive industry? Click here for more information and to download your free course guide.