This article covers the following jobs:
- Automobile Engineer
- Automobile Engineering Technician
- Car Valet
- Construction Plant Mechanic
- Heavy Vehicle Mechanic/Technician
- Light Vehicle Mechanic/Technician
- Motorcycle Mechanic/Technician
- Tyre/Exhaust Fitter
- Vehicle Body Refinisher
- Vehicle Body Repairer
- Vehicle Breakdown Engineer
- Vehicle Parts Salesperson.
The job descriptions are only a brief summary. It is recommended that you do further research on jobs that interest you.
Video: - Various: Vehicles
Automobile engineers design, test, develop and manufacture automobiles, such as cars, vans, lorries and racing cars.
They help to produce vehicles that are safe, environmentally friendly and fuel efficient.
Designing and developing a vehicle demands a wide range of scientific and engineering knowledge, including mechanical engineering, combustion, materials, structures and aerodynamics.
Some automobile engineers specialise in design, using computer-aided design (CAD) technology, and take into account factors such as strength, safety, efficiency, appearance, and the cost of parts.
Other engineers specialise in development, working on issues such as safety testing and passenger comfort (both are aspects of ergonomics), fuel efficiency and environmental pollution.
The usual requirement for this career is a relevant degree or HND.
Automobile engineering technicians generally support the work of automobile engineers. They may be responsible for engineering design or detail drawing (draughtswork), vehicle testing and development, or quality control, for example.
Entry as a technician apprentice is usually with four GCSEs at grade C or above, including English, Maths and a science, technology or engineering subject.
Mechanical and electrical work
People working in vehicle mechanical and electrical work carry out repairs and servicing on various types of vehicles:
- Light vehicle mechanics and technicians work on light or small vehicles such as cars and vans.
- Motorcycle mechanics and technicians work on motorbikes, mopeds and scooters.
- Heavy vehicle mechanics and technicians work on heavy or large vehicles, such as trucks, buses and coaches.
- Construction plant mechanics work on equipment and machinery used on construction sites, such as bulldozers, diggers and cranes.
Whichever type of vehicle they work on, their duties are similar. Technicians are more skilled in diagnosing faults.
In repair work, mechanics and technicians start by finding out what the problem is. They ask the person who has been driving or operating the vehicle what they have noticed about the problem - there could be an unusual noise or the engine may not have been running properly, for example.
They would remove some parts and take them to pieces, making sure they are not damaged or worn out.
Vehicle servicing involves making sure that everything on the vehicle is working properly, replacing old or worn out parts, and checking or changing the oil.
Vehicle mechanics and technicians carry out servicing when a vehicle has reached a certain mileage, or after a period of time set by the manufacturer.
Mechanics and technicians increasingly deal with electrical and electronic systems during the course of their work. They use computer-aided diagnostic equipment to find faults in a vehicle's electronic systems, and hand-held computers to measure things such as engine and brake performance.
There are no minimum academic requirements for entry to this job. However, many employers look for evidence of a good standard of education, for example, four GCSEs including Maths, English and a science, technology or engineering subject.
Trainee technician-level entry is usually with four GCSEs (A-C) in the above subjects.
Tyre/exhaust fitters replace worn and damaged tyres and exhausts. They may work on large vehicles such as trucks or coaches, or small ones like cars and vans. The job involves removing the old tyres or exhaust, putting a replacement on and fitting it to the vehicle. They also check for faults and damage, and use a wide range of tools in their work.
There are no minimum entry requirements, although employers may ask for four GCSEs, including English, Maths and a science, technology or engineering subject.
Auto-electricians find and diagnose faults in the electrical wiring and electrical/electronic parts of motor vehicles. This involves repairing or replacing wiring or complete units such as alternators, starter motors and headlights.
Auto-electricians use computer-aided diagnostic technology, for example, they plug a laptop computer into a vehicle's electronic systems. The computer is able to find and report back information on the fault.
Auto-electricians usually need at least four GCSEs including English, Maths and a science, technology or engineering subject.
Vehicle Breakdown Engineer
Vehicle breakdown engineers provide a roadside service to motorists whose vehicles have broken down or been damaged in an accident. They must be able to diagnose and fix the problem as quickly as possible.
They tow vehicles to a garage when they cannot repair them at the roadside. Vehicle breakdown engineers must be able to reassure the motorist and any passengers. They must be aware of road safety when they carry out repairs at the roadside.
Large national motoring organisations employ vehicle breakdown engineers.
Vehicle breakdown engineers usually qualify first as motor vehicle mechanics/technicians, gaining at least three years' experience on most types of vehicle, or five years' experience in engineering.
The bodywork of a vehicle is its outside shell. Jobs in this area generally involve repairing damage caused when the vehicle has been in an accident.
Vehicle Body Repairer
Vehicle body repairers mend anything from scratches, dents and rust to major accident damage.
They mend small areas of damage with special filling material and sand them down when dry. They may need to hammer out larger dents before they can fill them. They also replace parts such as body panels, doors, bumpers and windscreens on badly damaged vehicles.
Repairers need to know whether the damage is likely to affect the safety of the vehicle and if so, report this to a mechanic/technician. In small garages, the vehicle body repairer might also respray the repaired area. In larger garages, vehicle body refinishers carry out this work.
There are no formal entry requirements to become a vehicle body repairer. However, most employers will look for at least four GCSEs, including English, Maths and a science, technology or engineering subject.
Vehicle Body Refinisher
Vehicle body refinishers carefully inspect the repaired area. They sand it down until it's completely smooth and ready to be painted.
The paint must match the colour of the vehicle exactly. This may mean that the vehicle body refinisher has to mix paints together until they get the exact shade needed. They may use computerised paint mixing technology to help in this process.
The vehicle body refinisher applies the paint using a spray gun. When the paint is dry, they polish the surface so that the sprayed area blends with the original paint.
There are no formal entry requirements to become a vehicle body refinisher. However, most employers will look for at least four GCSEs, including English, Maths and a science, technology or engineering subject.
Mechanics and members of the public buy spare parts for vehicles from specialist shops and dealerships.
Vehicle parts salespeople/advisors take orders from customers over the phone, by email or in person, and advise them on the parts they need. They have to find out from the customer the exact model and year of the vehicle.
They identify the part number, usually using a computer, and select the parts from the warehouse. Parts salespeople issue invoices for sales, handle cash as well as credit and debit cards, and order stock.
To become a vehicle parts salesperson, you will need basic English and maths. Some employers ask for GCSEs at grade C or above in these subjects, together with Science and/or Engineering or ICT.
Cleaning vehicles, mainly cars and vans, is a specialist job called valeting.
Car valets clean the inside and outside of cars and other vehicles. They clean the bodywork of the vehicle using special cleaning fluid and high pressure water jets.
They then polish the paintwork, perhaps using wax which makes the paint shine. Car valets clean the inside of the car with a vacuum cleaner, special cleaning solutions and upholstery/carpet shampoo. They might also clean the engine and wheel arches using a steam cleaning machine.
Car valets are sometimes responsible for checking the levels of oil in the engine and water in the radiator. They could work for specialist car valeting companies, car dealers or car rental companies.
To become a car valet, you don't usually need any qualifications. Training is on-the-job with an experienced valet.
Address: 246 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EX
Tel: 020 3206 0500
Transport Training Services Ltd (TTS)
Address: 15 Dundrod Road, Nutts Corner, Crumlin, County Antrim BT29 4SS
Tel: 028 9082 5653
Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI)
Skills for the motor industry
Address: Fanshaws, Brickendon, Hertford SG13 8PQ
Tel: 01992 511521