Breakdown engineer job

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Barry Shaw is undertaking an HGV (heavy goods vehicle) Technician Apprenticeship with a company which deals with new and used vehicle sales, recycled parts and accident repairs. Barry spends time at the manufacturer's training centre as part of his training.

What does your Apprenticeship involve?

I work with qualified technicians who show me the correct way to complete tasks and thoroughly check every job that I do. I may be checking new vehicles before delivering or helping to repair and renovate used vehicles. I may also have to go out to accidents and breakdowns with the technicians.

Do you have a typical day?

No – every day brings new challenges. You never find two vehicles the same so the problems can be very different.

What equipment do you use?

I use a variety of tools and equipment such as spanners, socket sets, air guns, screwdrivers and measuring tools. I also use computers for the diagnostic checks and for ordering spares.

Why did you choose this type of work?

I have been interested in HGVs and large machinery since I was a small child and always wanted to work in the industry. I made a number of phone calls to various HGV dealerships and ReMIT (the training arm of the Retail Motor Industry Federation) which resulted in my current position.

Can you describe the training you have received so far?

I'm trained by the technicians and by the tutors at the residential training centre that I attend on a block-release basis. Training involves both practical and theory work. Most of the theory is done at the training centre and is incorporated into a BTEC qualification and an NVQ in Vehicle Maintenance and Repair with ReMIT.

What hours do you work and who do you work with?

I work from 8.00am and 4.30pm, Monday to Friday. I also work overtime if required. Occasionally I work on Saturday mornings as well. I always work with skilled technicians.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of your job?

I enjoy the variety of the work. Some of the jobs are dirty and as we are working on large vehicles, there is sometimes heavy lifting involved.

What are your long-term career goals?

I want to quality as a master technician with the best grade I can achieve.

What are the skills and qualities required to be a breakdown engineer?

You must have patience (especially on awkward and fiddly jobs), initiative and a willingness to learn from others.

Barry's route to his vreakdown engineer job

  • GCSEs.
  • GNVQ in IT.
  • Apprentice technician.

Barry's tips

  • Always listen to your colleagues.
  • Be aware of health and safety regulations.

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Salary of a breakdown engineer

  • Apprentices usually start at around £8,000 depending on the employer.
  • The income for new vehicle breakdown technicians begins at around £15,000.
  • Senior engineers with larger organisations can earn £28,000 or more.
  • There may be additional payments for shifts and overtime.

Getting in

  • Most vehicle breakdown technicians have previously trained as motor mechanics or vehicle technicians, and have at least five years' experience.
  • Many employers will expect applicants to have trained to NVQ/SVQ Level 2 or 3 in Roadside Assistance, Repair and Recovery. Other employers prefer applicants with GCSEs/S Grades (A-C/1-3) in English and mathematics.
  • Apprenticeships may be available, especially for training on specific types of vehicles, and some are supported by manufacturers and operators of heavy vehicles and plant such as mobile cranes.
  • It may also be necessary to take an aptitude test, a driving assessment, and in some cases, a medical. A good level of physical fitness, good eyesight and colour vision are needed.
  • A driving licence is essential. For some work a LGV licence is also needed.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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