What Makes a New Technician Tick?
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Opinion

What Makes a New Technician Tick?

I recently saw an article about a student pursuing the automotive maintenance field, and it made me ask questions.

technician working under the hood

I often wonder if I am losing touch with the younger generations. I’m not interested in any of the technology, fashions or fads that they are into, and I guess it just makes sense. Normally it’s not something I think about, but I recently saw an article about a high school student who was going to pursue the automotive maintenance field, and it made me realize that I don’t know what attracts them to this industry.

What do they see in it, and what do they enjoy about it, I pondered? Naturally, when you question the motivation of others, you wonder if you can clearly define your own. For me, it wasn’t a conscious decision.

I grew up around old cars. When we traveled, it was in a late-’70s Ford Country Squire wagon. We played in the back and sat in the third-row seats that folded up out of the floor. I don’t know if the A/C didn’t work or if my parents were convinced it would kill the fuel mileage, but we lived with 4-55 A/C for hundreds and hundreds of miles.

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“We’d pull into a service station and sit in the waiting room, taking in the aroma of the gas pumps, burned coffee and the oily smell of the shop, sometimes for hours on end, until the car was fixed.”



If we had mechanical trouble (which we did from time to time), we’d pull into a service station and sit in the waiting room, taking in the aroma of the gas pumps, burned coffee and the oily smell of the shop, sometimes for hours on end, until the car was fixed. I’d listen intently when the mechanic would come out and explain the problem. Even then I wanted to know so much about cars.

I didn’t have an influence that got me interested in cars. I just was. Perhaps Mattel was a bigger influence than I realized, but whatever it was when I got my first car, I wanted to know everything about it. I was determined that I would be able to fix every single thing, from bumper to bumper, literally. When it came time, my career choice wasn’t a choice. It’s just what I did.

I wanted to rebuild engines, transmissions and rear ends. I wanted to rebuild carburetors and do tune-ups. It never remotely crossed my mind that someday my most used tool would be something called a scan tool. Or that I might have to pair something called a smartphone to a radio that had a feature called Bluetooth. What was wrong with the two-knob system anyhow? And how many of you out there could time the fast-forward on your cassette player almost perfectly to the next song?

But that’s my generation. So, what makes a new technician tick? Are they attracted to the challenge of automotive repair? Do they like the electronics? Are they interested in a diagnostic edge, or the fundamental mechanics behind everything? Is it also their hobby, or strictly a career path? Those are interesting questions to me. Maybe they simply like cars for the freedom they represent and the individuality you can express with one, just like me. I’m not sure of the answers. Maybe I’ve lost touch. If you want to share your story, I’d love to hear it! TS

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