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Most people don't realize what it takes to diagnose and repair today's vehicles.  If they did, their perception of the person who fixes them would be a lot different.

An automobile technician's job is to find and repair things that the vehicle manufacturers haven't perfected, the laws of nature have destroyed and the forces of motion have worn out.  Technicians must have a good working knowledge of the technologies found on ALL motor vehicles in order to diagnose and repair them.  That range of knowledge, skills and insights is probably greater than what is possessed by most people, yet many still perceive that automotive technicians work with their hands and not their heads.  So for all people who still harbor this perception, here is a dose of reality.  The first step in solving the qualified automobile repair technician shortage is understanding the vast amount of skills, knowledge and training required in order to attain qualified technician status.  Below are some of the skills and knowledge a qualified technician uses every day to diagnose and repair a vehicle.

Today's automotive technician must be:

  • Part mechanical engineer, with an understanding how internal combustion engines, mechanical systems and thermal dynamics work and how laws of physics and motion cause parts to mal function or wear out.
  • Part chemical engineer, who can identify fluid contamination and it's source, and an understanding of how the oxidation process uses carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen to create new compounds and how to use that information to diagnose an engine malfunction.
  • An expert in hydraulics and pneumatics in order to diagnose brake, transmission, ride-leveling, power steering, air conditioning and vacuum controls correctly.
  • Knowledgeable in basic geometry and algebra, which is required to Wheel alignment, suspension repair and evaluating abnormal tire wear patterns.
  • An accomplished electrician that tracks down and repairs not only open and short circuits, but also identifying values that are not within a specific range for a specific condition and finding the cause.
  • Computer literate, with a sound knowledge of software and internet application in order to operate today's sophisticated diagnostic equipment and on-line repair information.
  • An expert mathematician who can interpret readings on gauges, dials and micrometers and can machine or adjust parts to specific tolerances.
  • Proficient in both the Metric and SAE systems of measurement and be able to convert both systems in their head (a skill that most people have not yet achieved).
  • Knowledgeable in and able to explain State and Federal consumer laws, especially when participating in State Inspection Programs.
  • Able to read and comprehend detailed repair information written at college-level English.

Automobile technicians must also use their senses of sight, smell, hearing and touch to find the source of problems.  As they go about diagnosing problems, they must analyze inputs, outputs and symptoms on a vehicle they did not design and do not use on a daily basis.

In addition, the average qualified automobile technician owns about $20,000 worth of tools paid for out of their own pocket, must update project knowledge every year, usually works in less than pristine conditions, gets maligned constantly by the media and has his or her ethics challenged on a regular basis. 

And when it comes to an automotive technician's personality profile, the public demands the patience of Job, the compassion of Mother Teresa, the honesty of Abe Lincoln and the speed of Flash Gordon but cannot understand why that technician should earn more than the pizza delivery man. 

Is it any wonder why there is a shortage of qualified technicians?