Car electrician

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Alex Jones is the manager of a vehicle electrics business. He fits a range of electrical equipment and systems to all makes of vehicles, from Ford to Ferraris and Lamborghinis.

What does your job involve?

My job involves fitting alarms, immobilisers and in-car entertainment systems, car phone kits, stereos, satellite navigation (sat-nav) systems and tracking devices to vehicles.

How many jobs do you complete in a day?

We are a mobile fitting service so I drive to customers who want equipment fitted in their cars. I tend to split my time between the office, the workshop and going out on mobile calls – perhaps four or five a day.

How do tracking devices work?

It depends on the type. Tracker units are small electronic units hidden in a vehicle. If a car is stolen the device broadcasts a silent coded signal which can be traced by police computers. Navtrak uses GPS (geographical positioning system) technology to pinpoint the exact location of a stolen car. These systems are becoming increasingly important as a car is stolen almost every minute in this country.

What tools do you use to fit electrical equipment?

I use a range of electrical testing equipment, as well as a variety of handtools including screwdrivers, pliers, sockets, spanners and drills.

What hours do you work?

I work a 40-hour week plus overtime when it is required.

Why did you choose this job?

I worked as a car mechanic but wanted a more varied career in the motor industry and the chance to specialise in auto electrics appealed to me. I get to work on some of the most prestigious cars in the world as Lamborghini, Ferrari, Porsche, Bentley and Mercedes cars regularly come through the garage doors.

How has your training helped you?

It is essential to undertake the technical training in vehicle fitting, but I also think I've learn a lot from talking, watching and working with experienced people.

What do you enjoy about your work?

I have the opportunity to travel to lots of places in the region and I enjoy meeting different people.

Is there anything you dislike?

The hours can sometimes seem long. It can also be pressurised when we have tight deadlines to complete work.

What skills and qualities does a good car electrician need?

You need to have a good general knowledge of motor vehicles, the ability to work with your hands and people skills – including being polite on the telephone. You also need to be able to work on your own and organise your own workload.

What ambitions do you have?

I have achieved as much as I can with my current employer and I'm happy with my position at the moment. The logical next step would be to start my own business but that's a major financial commitment to make.

Alex's route to his job as a car electrician

  • GCSEs.
  • NVQ Levels 2 and 3 in Body Repairs.
  • Apprenticeship in Coach Building and Ladder Repair.
  • MOT Tester's Certificate for Classes 3, 4 and 7.

Alex's tips

  • Be flexible in your career choices.
  • Always take advantage of training opportunities.
  • Gain as much experience and as many qualifications as you can.

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Salary details

  • A trainee or apprentice auto electrician earns around £10,000.
  • An experienced auto electrician can earn up to £25,000.

How to get qualified as a car electrician

  • Auto electricians can specialise in light or heavy vehicles, working in garages, transport services and haulage companies, as well as within the Armed Forces.
  • There are no minimum qualifications required to start training although some GCSE/S grade passes in maths, English and a science or technical subject are useful. Training providers such as ReMIT (the training arm of the Retail Motor Industry Federation) may test applicants' suitability before commencing training.
  • Apprenticeships in Vehicle Maintenance and Repair are available leading to vocational qualifications such as NVQs/SVQs, a Level 3 BTEC national award or a City & Guilds progression award.
  • Many qualifications are available on a full or part-time basis at colleges of further education.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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