Career Opportunities: Where to Begin

Salesperson with customer

If you are looking for an exciting, rewarding career, the retail automotive industry represents an excellent opportunity. It is a dynamic industry that is constantly changing to meet the needs of a high-tech society. And it is an industry that offers a wide variety of challenging, well-paying jobs for qualified, motivated people.

The modern dealership is a total transportation center, often with six or more separate operations under one roof: new-vehicle sales, used-vehicle sales, leasing and rentals, finance and insurance, service, body repairs and parts and accessories. The current trend in growth is toward multi-franchise dealerships.

Each department employs people with a wide variety of skills who work together as a team to make the dealership successful. The work is seldom dull. Every day is different in a dealership, and there is a great deal of pride and satisfaction in knowing that you have done your job well as part of a successful team.

There are many entry-level jobs in an auto or truck dealership, but no one gets "stuck" in these jobs. Regardless of where you start, your willingness to work hard and your skills, experience, education and training are rewarded with better jobs and higher pay.

How high you go and how much you earn in a franchised dealership are entirely up to you.

Resources and Links

The requirements for the many jobs available in franchised new-car dealerships may vary from dealer to dealer. But it goes almost without saying that the better prepared you are, the greater your chances of success.

If you are in school, stay in school. In today's very competitive job market, nearly all employers can demand a high school diploma or its equivalent. Courses in automotive service are important, and so is a background in business, electronics, mathematics or computer science. A college degree can be a definite advantage if sales or management positions are your goal. Ask your school's guidance or career counselor for help in planning the curriculum that best suits your needs.

If you are out of school, there are a number of training opportunities available that will help prepare you for either sales or service jobs in a dealership. High school adult education classes, technical institutes, junior and community colleges and universities offer a wide variety of courses specializing in nearly every aspect of automotive sales and service.

Many local and state automobile and truck dealer associations also have information on training programs in your area, and they may be able to advise you on which jobs are in demand, the qualifications that are necessary, and which dealerships are hiring. Look for the automotive trade association in your area.

Your local dealer is an excellent source of information on training programs and job requirements for technical careers in your area. Some automotive training programs require that you be employed by a sponsoring dealership to participate. Contact a local domestic or import dealer for more information.

 Automotive Youth Educational Systems (AYES) is a partnership among participating automotive manufacturers, dealers, and certain high school or tech prep schools. It encourages young people to consider satisfying careers in retail automotive service, and prepares them for entry-level career positions or advanced technology jobs. Contact AYES.

 A list of accredited home-study schools is available from the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC). Contact DETC.

 The Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU) is a voluntary membership organization of accredited, private postsecondary schools, institutes, colleges and universities that provide career-specific educational programs. Contact APSCU.

 The National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF) works to improve the quality of automotive technician training programs nationwide at secondary and post-secondary, public and proprietary schools. Contact NATEF.
 The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) is an independent, non-profit organization, and since 1972 has worked to improve the quality of vehicle repair and service by testing and certifying repair and service professionals. Contact ASE.

 Through cooperating colleges and technical schools around the country, many automobile manufacturers offer two-year programs leading to an associate's degree in automotive technology. The training combines classroom instruction with on-the-job experience. You must be sponsored by a dealership to participate. Many domestic and import manufacturers also offer management training programs. Contact the corporate offices of the manufacturer for more information.

 Northwood University offers special studies and degree programs in automotive marketing and automotive aftermarket management.

 NADA's Academy training offers a combination of classroom and in-dealership training for dealer successors and general managers. You must be sponsored by a dealership to enroll in the Dealer Candidate Academy or the General Dealership Management Program. Visit NADA University for more information, or e-mail:, or phone: 800-557-6232.