Author Topic: Career Switch Ideas from Automotive Tech.  (Read 3270 times)

jamaha

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Career Switch Ideas from Automotive Tech.
« on: June 11, 2015, 09:00:20 PM »
Hi Mustachians!  I was hoping to get some advice.

Some background.  I work as an automotive technician  for a major chain of tire dealers/service centers.  I make $14.43/hr flat-rate, and lately have been averaging 45-52 hours a week during the 50 hours that I work, so roughly 35ish a year.  This changes all the time, but has been trending up.  I only have 2 ASE certs and have been with my company for less than two years, so there is some potential for pay raises/productivity gains, or a move up/inside to Service Manager/Tire Manager, etc.

My goal is to transition to a rural homestead/small farm business, hopefully within 5 to 7 years.  I already have 57 acres for this, about 30 miles from where I live.  I inherited part of the land, and financed the purchase of the rest from the other heirs.  I've got $49k left on that mortgage.  I have no college degree, but about 60 hours of credits from previous misadventures in higher ed.  I've optimized my spending/debts/retirement savings about as well as I can/am-willing-to for my income level, so I'm looking to make some more money.

Ideally I'd like something I can get into in a relatively short time-frame (within 3 years) where I can make more money and get to FI sooner and/or with a bigger cushion.  I don't hate my job, but it can be stressful, is pretty physically demanding, and on the bad days I definitely feel stuck, like I could be making more progress toward my goals elsewhere..  I'm feeling ready for a change, or at least to begin working towards one. 

I was considering taking courses online and at night at a local community college to work toward a BS.  I was thinking of Accounting.  I realize that might take a little longer than I'd like, especially considering that I would be working 50 hours weekly throughout this transition, but thought it could make a good complement/side hustle to small farming/homesteading, or even a dependable backup career if I need to re-enter the full-time workforce.  I took an intro accounting course about ten years ago and really enjoyed the problem-solving aspects of it, and I like the idea of helping people or organizations better their financial situations by increasing their understanding of what's happening with their money.

I'd also considered going for an AS or certificate in Mechatronics or maybe CNC work, as there is a lot of high-tech manufacturing in my area (Upstate SC).  This would be more of a straight-up mercenary gig.  It would be faster than getting a Bachelor's but I'm not sure if the income potential is really much better than if I stick with my current employer.

Any other ideas on fast career changes for increased income for someone with no degree making about $35k?  Should I just try to blossom where I'm planted and wait a little longer for my rural dreams to become a reality?  Any ideas or advice would be appreciated.

asiljoy

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Re: Career Switch Ideas from Automotive Tech.
« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2015, 05:00:07 AM »
Going to school/changing careers is a risk. It may or may not pay better than you already are making and you may or may not be able to find a job you like with your new degree.

First question, do you like what you're doing? If so, your first step should be to talk to your boss and see if you two are on the same page as far as your career prospects and if there is anything you can do to hurry that along (more certs, etct).

Second question, switching to a desk job is going to be a huge change. Do you think that is something you want to do? Keeping in mind, many of me and my friends first years at entry level jobs were, um, boring as fuck. Office Space-ish. Like anything else, it takes time to find your niche and for management to trust you enough with the interesting projects and not just push paper.

Third question, why did you bomb out of school the first time and what's likely to change this time around? If you're really thinking of accounting, I would doubly recommend seeking out people who have already gone down that path and talking with career counselors at your school. My high level understanding of that field is that you take a buttload of schooling, then take a bunch of tests that make you want to pull your hair out, then you 'pay your dues' for a couple of years. My friends who are accountants love their work now, but for a couple of years I didn't see them because they were cramming for tests or working 6 days to keep their heads above water.

jamaha

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Re: Career Switch Ideas from Automotive Tech.
« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2015, 06:25:42 AM »
Thanks for your response asiljoy!

1) I would rate my job satisfaction, 1-10, as a 3.5 to 4.  When the money is good it's decent, and the work itself can be challenging and satisfying.  But the stress, hours, and lack of certainty are getting to me.   Whatever I decide to do, I plan to continue building my skills and working up in this job in the meantime.  My boss and I have discussed my position, and the plan is to move me inside to a Manager of Tire Sales job, where I have some previous experience, in the next 12 months, depending on attrition/promotion of others I work with.  This would be an almost lateral move money-wise, but would be much easier on me, and more stable.  It's also the path required if I wanted to be a store manager.  The potential for that exists around 4-5 years from now, but of course there are no guarantees.  Their base is around 60k, plus bonuses.

2) I have no problem trying any type of work, and honestly that sort of thing sounds like a blessing to me at this point, especially if it would help me get FIRE'd faster.

3) That's a great question. It's something that I've considered carefully, and is part of the reason I'm planning to dip my toe into this plan with some online/night classes and see how I perform.  There has always been a disconnect for me between school and my long term goals, mostly that I didn't have any, so it was hard to see the point.  I chose a bullshit major because it sounded interesting, and mostly I was in college because "it's what you do."  I'm hoping that since I finally have some concrete goals and direction in my life I can make some headway.

I have a couple of contacts who are or were accountants that I plan to e-mail after work today.  I've also read some of the other threads on here about accounting/CPAs. 

I'm trying to set up an interview with a career counselor at the local community college, but I'm having some trouble getting a hold of them.  I may just have to show up over there and ask to talk to someone.  I'm hoping that they can give me some good information about what jobs are available in my area, at what pay scales, that involve how much schooling, etc. as well as info about transferring for a bachelor's.  I'll report back if I ever get anything useful out of them.

WhatIsFrugalAfterAll

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Re: Career Switch Ideas from Automotive Tech.
« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2015, 07:34:13 AM »
So let's look at the good sides of your current gig:

* You have some stability month to month. Maybe your hours change a little, but you can guess what you will make over the year.
* You don't make a lot of money, but you make enough to live the mustache life on.
* You identify possible long term path to more money via manager.

The land be a farmer route and the college route are both interesting. Both can I think lead to a higher salary, but both are a risk. I am personally a high risk kind of guy so I would not be afraid to do one of them.. but if you do one, commit.  If you just go another year to college for 10k debt and quit again.. all you did was dig yourself deeper. Finish college OR do the farm thing, don't try to do both. So if you decide college, sell off the farm.

I think it really comes down to getting the best job that YOU can do, and be happy doing. Maybe that is tire store manager. Maybe that is accountant. I don't know what you like to do.

mozar

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Re: Career Switch Ideas from Automotive Tech.
« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2015, 07:37:40 AM »
You could also look at job boards: career builder, monster, indeed, to see what kind of accounting job openings are near you. Accounting will have more entry level openings near a city. Are you willing to move? With a bachelors degree in accounting and solid grades there may be some bookkeeping jobs that start at $40K. Lucky for you your state only requires 120 credits for cpa. So if you want to be on that track you can get the more plum audit jobs that start around $50K. It's a career with a lot of studying tho, even after school there are tests for continuing education requirements. I would'nt sell the farm, but if you are an accountant you probably won't have time for both for a long time.

Jack

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Re: Career Switch Ideas from Automotive Tech.
« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2015, 07:38:25 AM »
If you like being a mechanic, then I think you should keep being a mechanic. But instead of working for (relative) peanuts as a wage slave at a chain tire shop, I think -- once you feel competent enough to be ready -- that you should get yourself a van (and I assume you're already required to own your own tools) and strike out on your own as an independent mobile mechanic. I think such a business would be well-suited to a rural area, particularly if you learned the right skills to repair farm equipment as well as automobiles.

Otherwise, if you want a less physical career, then becoming one of the kinds of professionals whose skills are needed even in rural areas is a good plan. (For example, your idea of being an accountant is a good one... just specialize in individual or small-business accounting, not Fortune-500 auditing or something like that.) Doing tax prep as a side-gig in your home office after you've finished tending your farm for the day sounds relatively reasonable to me, for example.

Regardless of what you want to do, the limitations of the job market in rural areas (and the limitations on pay for what jobs that are available) suggests to me that you should have an entrepreneurial mindset rather than expecting to work for a medium-to-large company.

asiljoy

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Re: Career Switch Ideas from Automotive Tech.
« Reply #6 on: June 12, 2015, 08:50:13 AM »
... strike out on your own as an independent mobile mechanic...

Is this is a thing?? I would love to have someone come to me to fix my cars!

asiljoy

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Re: Career Switch Ideas from Automotive Tech.
« Reply #7 on: June 12, 2015, 08:54:10 AM »
In my city, there are community education classes separate from the colleges that provide this kind of counseling. You may have pay 20/30 bucks to take the course and for their one-on-one time, but it'll be much more in-depth than the 20 mins you'd get from a college counselor. I would also take whatever you hear from the college counselor with a grain of salt; after all, they work for the college, so it seems unlikely that they would do anything that wouldn't encourage you to go to college.


Jack

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Re: Career Switch Ideas from Automotive Tech.
« Reply #8 on: June 12, 2015, 11:28:59 AM »
... strike out on your own as an independent mobile mechanic...

Is this is a thing?? I would love to have someone come to me to fix my cars!

It's a thing, but not a very common one. That's another advantage of the idea (for the OP): he'd be getting in at the beginning of a trend.

jamaha

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Re: Career Switch Ideas from Automotive Tech.
« Reply #9 on: June 14, 2015, 09:38:38 AM »
Thanks for all the great input y'all.

WhatIsFrugalAfterAll:  Sorry if I didn't make this clear.  Homesteading/farming is my financial independence goal, not the means to get there.

Mozar: I actually live in Greenville, a pretty decent market.  There's no shortage of all kinds of jobs within an easy commute.  But you're probably right that after getting a degree and getting enough experience to be really established, I'd have pushed back my FIREd date, albeit with more earning potential/a bigger stash.

Jack:  I've read about mechanics doing that in some of the industry magazines we get at work.  I like the concept, but I'm cautious by nature, and I don't have savings to cover a lean start-up period while building up a client base (all excess income is currently going to debt reduction).  I also have some concerns about liability issues and insurance.  Perhaps this could be a way to transition organically from full-time to part-time to full independence.  And it could make a good side gig after I get out of regular working as well.  You've given me something to think about.

asiljoy:  I hadn't heard of those courses, that sounds like exactly what I'm looking for.  I'll see if those are offered in my city.

A new data point: I talked to the Service Manager at my store.  He told me that his hourly wage was $16, but with overtime and bonuses last year, he made right at $50k.  That's more than I was thinking, and makes me think that I should probably stick with this gig and try to move inside to sales.  I still like the idea of taking some classes this fall and working towards a bachelor's, but it's nice to know that I can get a pretty big income increase in a realatively short time.

mozar

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Re: Career Switch Ideas from Automotive Tech.
« Reply #10 on: June 14, 2015, 08:25:46 PM »
I think finishing your bachelors degree in whatever you choose will be a good bet long term.

Cole

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Re: Career Switch Ideas from Automotive Tech.
« Reply #11 on: June 14, 2015, 08:33:54 PM »
If you want to make a short jump I would go into heavy machinery (agricultural or construction) if you could get into cranes you could make a good deal of money.

asiljoy

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Re: Career Switch Ideas from Automotive Tech.
« Reply #12 on: June 14, 2015, 09:10:02 PM »
I think finishing your bachelors degree in whatever you choose will be a good bet long term.

Ditto. Just be smart, minimal loans, etc... but yes, school to me at least is always a good idea.

jamaha

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Re: Career Switch Ideas from Automotive Tech.
« Reply #13 on: June 14, 2015, 09:45:49 PM »
I think finishing your bachelors degree in whatever you choose will be a good bet long term.

Ditto. Just be smart, minimal loans, etc... but yes, school to me at least is always a good idea.

I did not plan to take on any debt as part of this scheme.  And until I have to spend more than $2,000 in a year, it's virtually free as I'll get all the tuition and fees back with the Lifetime Learning credit.

asiljoy

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Re: Career Switch Ideas from Automotive Tech.
« Reply #14 on: June 15, 2015, 04:53:23 AM »
Oh nice! I didn't realize that was a program. I'll have to let my husband know.

MayDay

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Re: Career Switch Ideas from Automotive Tech.
« Reply #15 on: June 15, 2015, 06:07:24 AM »
A family member is a diesel mechanic for larger equipment (not farm, more likeconstruction, but maybe it's the same thing). He makes 50k and is in demand.

Definitely if you like being a mechanic, there are schooling options in that area that might be cheaper and faster than a bachelors. And long term I think a mechanic will always be in demand, so it's a great potential side hustle should you ever need it in the future.