Most of us who get into the mechanic trade do it out of passion. We were the kids who were tearing apart the toaster and putting it back together just to see how it worked. We grew up with a wrench in our hands and all we ever wanted to do was work on cars, trucks, equipment and whatever else we can get our hands on. As we approach the trade with passion we have a tendency to not think about our future, why would we ever want to not be wrenching?
The problem is that the trade will beat you up. As 20 year old’s we tend to work stupid, we lift with our backs, work quickly and don’t ever give a thought about ergonomics or working smartly. I promise this will catch up to you later in life. Even if we are smart and work properly our whole career there is still a limit on what your body will put up with. This is especially true for techs that take on bigger jobs like Diesel Trucks and Heavy Equipment.
It is important that you have an exit strategy, for years I have been telling technicians:
“You want to get off the tools before you have to get off the tools”
I speak to techs all the time that waited too long and instead of enjoying retirement they are trying to manage the best they can with beat up knees and a broken back. Get off the shop floor while you are still in good condition.
Getting off the shop floor can mean a lot of different things, you need to pick what makes the most sense for you. You want to pick something that will utilize your skill set and experience and will also be a role that will make you happy. Know what you are good at and what you like doing. Some of the most popular options for mechanics transitioning off the floor are:
- Supervisory Roles (Shop Foreman, Service Supervisor, Service Manager etc.)
- Tool Sales
- Parts Person
- Service Writer/Service Advisor/Service Coordinator
- Driver/Equipment Operator
I recommend picking a path early in your career and working toward it. This is similar to financial planning you want to start before you are forced into a role. Take steps toward what you want to do while you are still wrenching.
If you want to be a supervisor start taking a leadership role in the shop, start mentoring technicians, let ownership know that you want to move up. Also, make sure you are working with a company that can offer growth potential. For more info on how to get promoted see our article – https://rockstarmechanics.com/5-steps-to-getting-promoted/
If Tool Sales are an interest start talking to your local tool sales guys, know the business, keep in contact with every mechanic you meet (these are future customers.) Start working and building your social media following now so that when you transition you have a platform to reach customers and you are not starting from scratch.
Want to be a parts person? Make nice with the parts crew, pay attention to what they actually do, keep a good relationship with the Parts Manager.
If you want to be a driver make sure you keep an active CDL. Want to be an operator? Start practicing now.
If instructor is your goal then make sure you stay in touch with the colleges, offer to help them when needed so they know who you are when you apply. Also, make sure to take every training course you possibly can over the course of your career. When in training pay attention to how the instructors conduct themselves, pay attention to the lesson and how it is taught to give your self an idea of how you would want to teach.
Whatever you do, don’t wait too long and get off the floor while you can. If you are looking for a role to transition to feel free to give us a call or check out our job board to see what is available – www.rockstarmechanics.com/jobs
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