Auto tech: How to turn your obsession with cars into a career

Aug 17 2018, 12:42 am

You know cars. You know them inside and out, and you’re always looking for someone who is on your level, who can speak your language. You’re obsessed, in the best way.

So why not consider turning your obsession with cars into a career?

Everyone learns in different ways. And when you’re passionate about something, you learn a lot faster — because it doesn’t feel like work at all.

There’s no shortage of work for automotive service technicians. Provincial government statistics forecast over 6,700 job openings in this career between 2017 and 2027 in BC. Of course, the development of technology in this respected field means you would be using computer systems to repair and modify cars, and this technology is only going to become more enhanced as time goes on.

Getting the training now by starting an apprenticeship with the help of the Industry Training Authority (ITA) means that you’ll be on the right path to kickstart your career.

What an automotive service technician does

The role of an automotive service technician is much more diverse than you may think. You could work in a garage or on a factory floor with vehicles of all shapes and sizes; everything from a vintage roadster to a brand-new Tesla.

And as each model has its own set of requirements and specifications, you’ll need to learn the nuances of each, and be able to quickly isolate the problem, find a solution, and send drivers safely on their way.

Car repair/Shutterstock

Theory in practice at one of North America’s biggest ski resorts

At Whistler Blackcomb – one of the biggest ski resorts in North America – there are a number of automotive service technicians who maintain the resort’s fleet of automobiles, snowmobiles, and other vehicles. Much of this work is hands-on; however, the increasing computerization of automobiles combined with other advances like the emergence of hybrid vehicles has increased the need for technicians to embrace new technology.

In fact, all automotive service technicians now need to have some understanding of computer science. Dan Moody, an automotive service technician for Whistler Blackcomb, says: “With the automotive industry, the average car has between 25 and 50 central processing units which include computers on it, modules and sensors. They all network and talk to each other, and they all use each other as assets to achieve a common goal.”

Moody is describing the Controller Area Network (CAN), a set of connected computers, also known as Electronic Control Units (ECUs). Each ECU has sensors and switches that detect changes in temperature, pressure, voltage, speed, acceleration, and other information about a vehicle’s performance. ECUs transmit and listen to each other for these changes, using the input to help perform their specific duties, such as rolling up the windows, controlling the engine, and controlling the transmission. The CAN facilitates the flow of data.

Automotive service technicians need to understand how the CAN works, and sometimes they program changes into its software to solve performance problems.

The computerization of vehicles and emergence of hybrid vehicles means technicians need to be trained annually to stay on top of advances in technology. “Technicians need to stay on top of the new technology so our training is still relevant. Otherwise, you get left behind,” says Moody.

New approaches to technology are now covered in many automotive service technician apprenticeship programs. Visit ITA now to find out how you can take to the road today in this exciting career.

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