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Gen Z is Losing Faith in College Degrees. They Should Look at Dealerships. 



Gen Z is breaking from older generations by shifting away from four-year college degrees. That is big news for the auto retail industry, who is always looking for young talent – no college degree required.

Local dealerships offer careers with high-paying salaries, strong benefits, and defined tracks into management. And anyone who has worked at a dealership will tell you, the best education comes from working on the lot or in the shop, not a college classroom.

Take a step back. How big is this shift away from the traditional college education? Let’s break it down by the numbers:

The reasons for this generational shift are predictably financial:

  • It costs at least $104,108 to attend four years of public university and $223,360 for a private university. 
  • College graduates owe an average of $33,500 in student debt after graduating.
  • A third of college graduates earn less than $40,000 four years after graduating — lower than the average salary of workers with a high-school diploma ($44,356).

For many young people, the math does not add up to pursue a college degree, especially when there are well-paying alternatives. In the same four years a student spends in college, a dealership employee could move from a product specialist to a high-earning salesperson on the management track. A service technician could have earned multiple certification levels through on-the-job training, increasing their pay and decreasing their hours.

And, of course, it does not stop there. At every dealership across the country, 19-year-old cashiers have worked up the ladder. Some of them are now running their own stores and buying more. They will all tell you that the most valuable education for their careers came from their time on the job.


   NADA Show 2025

The Auto Industry Event of the Year
New Orleans | January 23-26, 2025


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