Who works in your shop? Master techs? Techs just out of school?
Someone in between? Most shops have technicians at all levels of
skill and experience, from the expert to the newbie. Successful
shops find ways to share knowledge and cross-train to create a
solid team. But there’s always room for improvement.
We asked technicians from across North America what advice they
would give to new technicians. What skills should they hone? What
knowledge should they focus on? What will help a new tech be
successful at the beginning of his or her career? We received
dozens of responses and we’ve gathered the best of them here.
Whether you’re a new tech just starting out or a seasoned
technician with many years of experience, you’ll find something
useful in this list.
Top Tips for New Technicians
1. Area of Interest—Mechanics (a.k.a. How Things Work) Must
Have Skills Include:
Be interested in and have an understanding of how car
systems work – both separately and together.
Take the time to learn how components operate. Learn
multiple ways to fix things, because there is usually more than
Think “outside the toolbox.” When you have natural
curiosity and interest in figuring things out, combined with
knowledge of how systems work, you will uncover answers others
Focus on diagnostics. Especially as vehicles become more
complex, it’s important to think diagnostically and use the
correct tools to gather information. Once you have that
information, you can determine how to best repair the issue.
2. Area of Interest—Electronics, Must-Have Skills Include:
Electronics are driving the complexity of today’s vehicles,
so a solid understanding of electrical theory and diagnostics
This goes beyond understanding systems and how they work to
an understanding of the vehicle as a whole. Many vehicles are
run by on-board computers so knowledge of electronics is
essential to be able to diagnose and repair issues.
Make sure you are able to effectively use scan tools and
computer systems. These will be invaluable as you work in the
back or the front of the shop.
3. Continuous Learning and Education.
A smarter approach to solving issues is needed as vehicles
get more complex—and that smarter approach includes ongoing
learning. The automotive industry is constantly changing and
you must change with it.
It is essential to keep your skills and knowledge
up-to-date on current vehicles, technologies, tools and repair
Attend training sessions, read as much as you can, and
participate in online forums and discussion threads. Ask for
help when you need it. Chances are, someone somewhere has
resolved the issue you’re facing.
Consider working toward industry certifications, such as
ASE Certification. This industry standard shows you have expert
skills and knowledge and increases customer trust.
Continual learning takes time and effort and may take you
away from hands-on vehicle work—but it will pay off for you,
the shop and your customers.
4. People Skills.
Remember that your customers are the reason you are there
and demonstrate genuine concern for them. Put their needs
first—ask questions, and understand the issues, constraints,
and when they need their vehicle back.
Be polite, helpful, friendly and respectful to
everyone—customers, fellow technicians, service writers, shop
owners, assistants, interns—everyone. It doesn’t take much
effort and makes a big difference in the atmosphere of the
Listen to, and learn from, those around you. Ask questions
when you need help and offer help when you are asked. Work as a
team with your fellow shop mates because remember — the
customer comes first!
Work hard and show integrity. Whether it’s your first job
or your last, do your best work on every vehicle. Don’t cut
corners to save time. The customers’ safety and trust in the
shop are paramount and not worth risking to save a few dollars.
Take pride in your work. You are essential to your
customers’ daily lives, whether they recognize it or not.
Customers rely on their vehicles for so many daily activities
that they are in trouble when their vehicle isn’t working. You
can fix that and improve their day.
Thanks so much to everyone who offered insight and advice.
Working together is the best way to make everyone successful—and
you helped make a few more people successful. Best of luck to all
the new technicians out there. As both President Harry Truman and
Coach John Wooden were fond of saying, “It’s what you learn after
you know it all that counts.” Keep learning and make it count!
The ALLDATA Training Garage can provide additional learning tools
and help new technicians become ASE Certified. To request a demo,