Kangan Institute Blog

Everything you need to know about a Career in the Automotive Electrical Trade

Do you love working with cars and other vehicles? Can you trace a car’s electrical work in your head? Do you love seeing how they work and fixing them for your own enjoyment? If so, then you might able to turn your hobby into a rewarding career in the automotive electrical trade industry.

A rapidly growing and high-demand field, the automotive electrical trade keeps cars, trucks, tractors and other automotive vehicles running smoothly. Without these highly skilled workers, our cars would be breaking down and those whose jobs require heavy equipment would have a hard time completing their work.

If you’re considering a career in this great industry, keep reading to learn everything you need to know about a career in the automotive electrical trade.

Where to find work

Most automotive electricians go to work for a mechanic’s shop or a dealership. Mechanic shops employ automotive electricians to work on the various cars that come into the shop. This requires a strong knowledge of a lot of different makes and models.

Dealerships need highly trained automotive electricians who know their products extremely well. Customers often bring in their cars to have them serviced, and they expect high quality work. These electricians need to have solid knowledge on the makes and models of the dealership. If the electrician is working for a used car dealership, then he or she needs to be able to fix up older cars and make them sellable once more.

If you have further training with heavy equipment, you also might find work with a construction or mining company. Large construction companies need to keep their equipment running smoothly, and they’ll employ automotive technicians to service their heavy vehicles. Mines usually use heavy equipment to drill, and having a drill break down can cease production for days. They need full time automotive electricians on hand to keep those machines up and running.

Day-to-day work

As an automotive electrician, you’ll be working with multiple parts of the car - all related to the electrical wiring system. This requires good hand-eye coordination, strong eye sight, a thorough methodology of completing work and a desire to keep learning as electrical systems change and upgrade.

For most electricians, the day lasts from about 8am until roughly 6pm. This will vary depending on the employer, but most electricians can expect a 40-hour work week with the possibility of overtime.

Though the work will vary depending on where the automotive electrician is employed, many of the same work skills are needed. Automotive electricians will be working with computer engine management systems, which will help diagnose any problems in the car’s electrical system. Once the problem has been diagnosed, the electrician will complete the repairs to the parts of the electrical system, including the:

  • Electronic ignition
  • Cruise control
  • Fuel injection
  • Airbags
  • Automatic transmission
  • Air conditioning

Additionally, automotive electricians need to be able to install:

  • Starters
  • Alternators
  • Heaters and air conditioners
  • Radios and CD players
  • Anti-theft systems
  • Driving lamps

Now that energy efficient cars are becoming more popular, automotive electricians need to be able to make improvements to electrical systems to improve their overall efficiency. This is a major benefit to many car owners, and having this skill will come in handy as car manufacturers become more focused on more fuel efficiency.

Once the work is completed, the automotive electrician will be in charge of testing the vehicle to make sure that all parts are correctly installed. If any issues come up during the testing process, the electrician will go back and fix those parts and retest them until everything is satisfactory.

Doing all of this work will also require specialised knowledge of certain tools and equipment. Automotive electricians should feel comfortable using power and hand tools in their everyday work, and they should have an extensive knowledge of industry equipment and machines. Some projects will also require soldering and welding, so having this knowledge will help automotive electricians excel in their place of work.

Automotive electricians work with different cars every day, so it’s rare that they ever have the same day twice. If you like a little variety in your work, this may be just what you need.

Positive payment

For the work involved, automotive electricians make good money for the work they do.

Before tax, the weekly earnings of an automotive electrician sit at about $1,247 per week, according to the Australian Government Job Outlook. As electricians work to improve their skillsets, they may be able to find even better wages.

How to get started

To take advantage of the exciting opportunities in the automotive electrician industry, you will need to be fully qualified and trained in the field.

Your qualifications can begin once you’re at least 15 years of age and are either working in the automotive industry or have received an offer for an apprenticeship. Meeting these requirements will allow you to enrol in a TAFE. Here you will be able to start working on your Certificate III in Automotive Electrical Technology.

This nationally-accredited course covers all the material necessary to complete the apprenticeship and become a full-fledged automotive electrician. You’ll learn the health and safety concerns that go along with the position as well as training on the many types of machines and equipment you’ll be using on a daily basis. The course also goes over how to speak with customers and ensure that their needs are met. Finally, you will learn how to test the different types of electrical systems using up-to-date computerised machines.

Once completed in line with the apprenticeship, students will be eligible for full time positions with mechanic shops, dealerships and other companies in need of automotive electricians.

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