Opportunities abound in the automotive aftermarket. All you have to do is stand back, take a wide view of the situation, analyze what your true drive and desire is, and then put together a plan of action. The automotive aftermarket, which I define as anything not dealership-related, is an industry that is so broad and inclusive that it is virtually impossible to define in a few paragraphs. Essentially, it involves the most obvious areas of automotive aftermarket repair shops and the technicians who work in them. Because they are really the backbone of the industry, jobs abound within the area of aftermarket repair and include service managers, store managers, service sales write-up people, parts specialists and so on. Along with general repair shops there are specialty repair shops with their accompanying technicians and write-up people.

The parts industry is also very vast and broad. Within the parts industry itself, and specifically the national marketing warehouses, you’ll find a variety of experts within certain subject areas. You’ll also find buyers in these warehouses, stock people, delivery drivers, forklift drivers, inventory control specialists and others.

The aftermarket also includes the various manufacturers of individual component parts, their design people, their new-product development people, their customer service people and a wide variety of job opportunities. In addition to all of these areas you will find independent consultants in the business end of the industry who address everything from financial advice, to how to sell service, to what type of sticker you should put on a car when you do an oil change.

Within the automotive aftermarket industry there are also many companies that specialize, promote and develop specific repair functions such as transmission and power-steering fluid-testing products. Friction material is an area of somewhat specialized expertise. The engineers who design and develop a particular brand for a brake pad and its operating parameters, along with the people who build the prototypes of those pads, do field-testing, run brake dynamometers, publish marketing data and put on training seminars for major brake manufacturers, are all major players in the automotive aftermarket.

The thing is, the automotive aftermarket can be extremely physically demanding. This is particularly true in automotive repair shops. It’s not easy to bend over or lift heavy objects, have your hands in a variety of solvents or chemicals or breathe in air with a variety of possible contaminants in it year after year without experiencing some effect. As a result, you don’t see the same number of older technicians in the industry that you possibly should. It’s not that they can’t keep up. It’s not that they aren’t still interested. It’s that they physically have issues with being able to perform the job tasks every day. This article is written primarily for those folks or others who need to change jobs within the automotive aftermarket for whatever reason.

Perhaps you are someone who still has children at home and a wife who works during the day and you simply can’t afford the cost of daycare. Getting a job in an automotive-parts warehouse where you can perform a variety of duties and tasks is a possible option, particularly on a shift opposite that of your wife’s so you will not be putting out almost as much for childcare as you are currently making.

In my travels over the years, I once visited a shop where we did a training session that ended at 10 o’clock at night. As we were getting ready to leave, an older gentleman came in, greeted the owner of the shop and said, “Yeah, I’ll be sure to lock up when I leave.” I asked, “What’s this guy doing? Is he a cleaner for you?” The place was immaculate. The owner replied, “Our shops are in a highly regulated state and we get fined if we supposedly perform some kind of service that isn’t really needed and don’t do things correctly.” So, this gentleman, who had been a technician for many years, was hired on a daily basis, meaning he might work 15 minutes or he might work four hours a night. His job was to gather all the scheduled appointments, the vehicles listed for these appointments, including license numbers, VINs and any other pertinent information, along with the proposed repair. He would then access an online repair technical reference service for available bulletins, recalls, technical tips and information. When the technicians got the write-up work orders in the morning, they would also get all that information. The owner said he gave this man a decent wage but made his wage back every day and sometimes over. This is a creative way for this employee to stay in the automotive aftermarket, plus he’s able to track and stay up to date on trends. He is often a resource for the company on what they possibly should be stocking or looking at on various vehicles.

Creativity and common sense are things that, depending upon what generation you fall into, other generations may or may not have. The point is, don’t limit yourself to the job you are doing today when the time comes that you can no longer do, or desire to do that job. Heck, perhaps you could actually start writing magazine articles on automotive aftermarket repair and operations. There are many opportunities that are limited only by your imagination, creativity or desire to seek them out. Open your eyes and look at the wide range of opportunities and decide where you want to be tomorrow and a few years from now. You may amaze yourself. If there is a vehicle line of aftermarket performance parts that you install on your own car or if you are involved in racing or have a hot-rod hobby, perhaps you should look at doing some work with that manufacturer in the future. The automotive aftermarket is limitless. Its opportunities abound. Take advantage of them and enjoy yourself in this wonderful business.