Automotive & Mechanics

If you love all things cars, vehicles, hands-on work and technology – an automotive-related career can be a great way to follow your passion!

Automotives, vehicles, and all kinds of transport are a vital part of the infrastructure in a range of other industries – and there’s a lot to explore if you’re interested in the sector.

It’s not just about driving or being a car mechanic – the automotive industry is broad and encompasses a variety of activities, including:

  • Retailing of vehicles, parts and tools.
  • Parts manufacturing.
  • Mechanical and electrical engineering.
  • Repair and maintenance of cars, trucks and heavy goods vehicles.
  • Repair and service of bicycles, outdoor power equipment, marine vessels and motorcycles.
  • Non-car manufacturing.

As the automotive industry continues to expand and grow with innovations like self-driving cars and electric vehicles, more opportunities are entering the market in terms of the types of jobs and career paths available.

The safe and reliable maintenance and management of vehicles directly impacts the ability of others to do their jobs. From the mailmen who deliver your post to delivery drivers in all walks of life, ambulance and medical transportation, public transport and more.

We’ve also seen some exciting career paths open up within the bicycle retail, repair and maintenance sector.

There are multiple ways to get started in the industry, depending on the type of role you’d ultimately like to land. This includes trainee and apprenticeships, degree pathways, and direct employment.

What You Could Do

As mentioned, it’s not all just driving or being a mechanic – there are lots of different ways to explore the industry if you’ve got a passion for all things automotive.

Here’s a look at some of the top jobs you could explore:

Driving Instructor

Combine a love of cars with a love of teaching by becoming a driving instructor. You’ll support a range of individuals to get behind the wheel and gain confidence and knowledge to pass their driving test. It can be a rewarding role but also one that requires lots of patience, exceptional communication skills, and the ability to appropriately manage others.

Tire Technician

Tire technicians service, repair, and replace car tires to ensure an efficient and smooth ride for drivers. They’re knowledgeable about various tire types—including snow tires—and recommended treads for various road or off-road environments. They could be employed by a tire specialty repair shop or as part of a bigger automotive technician team in a large auto body shop.

Vehicle Inspector

Vehicle inspectors are responsible for ensuring vehicles meet safety standards for the industry or sector they’re used within and for general public use. They’re responsible for reporting violations and recommending repairs to get a vehicle to meet set safety requirements. They’ll conduct safety checks using a variety of methods, tools and apparatus to get a full understanding and in-depth checks on all parts. Once repairs and maintenance are carried out, they’ll usually re-conduct their tests and make sure the vehicle passes quality standards.

Auto Electrician

Auto electricians inspect, repair and maintain anything electrical within a vehicle. This includes the headlights, dashboard warning lights, alarm system, circuit boards and starter motor. They use a range of tools and diagnostic equipment to test the different electrical components, determine where faults lie and to make a plan for how to repair them. Auto electricians might work as sole traders or within auto body shops alongside other mechanics and auto engineers.

Auto Mechanic

Auto mechanics are probably who you think of when you think about working in the automotive sector. They carry out routine maintenance, diagnostic testing and mechanical repairs on a range of different vehicles. They usually work on motorised components, such as engines, drive belts, power steering, brakes and transmissions. Like other automotive technicians, they use a range of tools and diagnostic equipment to help, but with older cars, this might not be possible, so they need to have excellent knowledge and problem-solving skills.

Auto Engineer

Auto engineers research, design and develop technical systems for different vehicles. They utilise innovative technology to improve navigation, warning, control, and fuel systems. They tend to work to continually improve previous systems and focus on what specific drivers need to make their driving experience safer. They troubleshoot any problems that arise and work on solutions before new ideas, parts, or systems go into production.

These job roles are only just scratching the surface!

You’ll find the more you explore the sector, the more opportunities you’ll come across.

Graduate Employment and Gender Split

A degree isn’t necessary for many roles within the automotive and mechanics industry unless you want to pursue a career as an engineer. Apprenticeships tend to be a popular route into the industry.

That said, knowing what graduate employment looks like can help set your expectations and make further decisions.

The Graduates Outcome Survey tracks graduate employment across different industry sectors.

Here’s the most recent data for this industry:

  • Engineering (Other) Graduates in full-time employment: 86.8%
  • Engineering (Electrical) Graduates employed overall: 82.8%

Keep in mind that this doesn’t account for graduates who freelance or may have continued higher studies.

*Figures from 2021 survey results.

Gender Split

The gender split depends on the segment of the sector you work within, but it remains a heavily male-dominated industry.

Recent reports indicate the current split as roughly:

  • Males: 80%
  • Females: 20%

There has been a significant increase in the number of women taking up roles in the industry and pursuing an interest in automotive and mechanical-based careers.

Many employers actively encourage women to apply for early career roles.

At Explore Careers, we’re actively working with employers to help them promote Gender Diverse & Gender Positive workplaces.

Average Salary

Current surveys in the sector indicate the median salaries for full-time roles in this industry as:

  • Driving Instructor Roles: $60,000-$70,000
  • Tire Technician Roles: $70,000-$110,000
  • Vehicle Inspector Roles: $68,000-$89,000
  • Auto Electrician Roles: $89,100-$100,500
  • Auto Mechanic Roles: $54,500-$79,000
  • Auto Engineer Roles: $85,000-$125,000

Salaries can be pretty varied, with lower expectations for entry-level roles.

Salaries are also determined by several factors, including:

  • The segment of the industry you work within.
  • Your job title and seniority.
  • The amount of experience you have.
  • Any additional qualifications or certifications that give you a specialist skillset

Industry Growth

According to the Australian Industry and Skills Committee, the automotive and mechanical sector is expected to see significant growth between now and 2028.

Here’s a look at some of the key data around this:

  • The automotive industry contributes an estimated $37 billion to the Australian economy.
  • The sector employs over 356,000 Australians.
  • Significant in-demand skills across the sector include:
    • Fault diagnosis
    • Mechanical & electrical repair skills for modern vehicle systems
    • Design & repair skills for semi-automatic driving technologies, including park assist, lane warning and emergency braking.

While the sector took a dip during COVID-19 – thanks to lockdowns, low travel and stay-at-home orders – the industry is again on the up, with a surge of expected growth between now and 2028.

Technological upgrades and new product developments significantly benefit the automotive industry’s growth and create plenty of career opportunities.

Qualifications and Entry Pathways

Entry pathways are varied and will depend heavily on the type of role you want to get into.

You’ll typically need at least your high school education certificate for most roles and learn on the job while you gain industry-relevant qualifications.

Nationally recognised training for automotive ad mechanical roles are delivered under two regulatory bodies:

  1. AUM – Automotive Manufacturing Training Package
  2. AUR – Automotive Industry Retail, Service and Repair Training Package.

For engineering focused roles, you’ll need to complete a relevant degree program, such as:

  • Bachelor of Automotive Engineering
  • Bachelor of Technology (Motorsports)
  • Associate Degree of Engineering (Instrumentation Control & Automotive)

You can also pursue many roles in the building and construction sector through:

  • Scoring an apprenticeship or traineeship: You can start an apprenticeship and work to gain industry-specific qualifications alongside your certificate of education and work experience.
  • Work experience once you leave school: If you leave school at 16, you can apply for work experience in entry-level positions and work your way up over time.

TAFE and vocational education pathways are ideal for individuals wishing to pursue careers within the automotive sector.

Here are a few of the qualifications you could pursue:

  • Certificate II in Automotive Servicing Technology
  • Certificate III in Light Vehicle Mechanical Technology
  • Certificate III in Heavy Commercial Vehicle Mechanical Technology

Requirements will depend on the type of role you want and the company – so make sure you research.

Whatever your circumstances, grades, or preferred way forward – there’s a qualification pathway that will work for you.

Best Places to Study

Where you choose to study will be dependent on a range of factors, but some top institutions to study automotive engineering and related subjects include:

  • Australian Trade Training College
  • RMIT University
  • University of Western Australia
  • University of Southern Queensland
  • Swinburne University of Technology
  • TAFE (Nationwide)
  • Queensland University of Technology

Your local TAFE and vocational education providers are also excellent places to reach out to explore your apprenticeship and vocational qualification avenues.

Top Skills You’ll Need

Some of the key skills identified to be successful in the industry include:

  • Autonomy
  • Problem-solving
  • Time Management
  • Punctuality
  • Communication
  • Team Work
  • Driver Licence
  • Automotive Knowledge
  • Commitment
  • Customer Service

Where to Learn More

You can learn more about different automotive and mechanical career pathways through professional bodies and organisations advocating for careers in the sector.

Some good places to start include:

And many more!

Each state will also have several professional organisations to help you learn more about the industry, network, and develop your career.