The automotive manufacturing industry is one of the largest employers in the entire nation and is a vital part in the success of the economy. Not only do jobs in the automotive industry help stimulate the economy by helping people drive, but also other companies who make glass, steel, and tires will benefit. Unfortunately, with the shutdown of many automotive manufacturing plants over the last few years, many people have lost their jobs. Some plants become out-dated and companies have to close them down permanently.
Education and training for automotive manufacturing can vary on which type of field you may enter, but all may require college training and courses, followed by an apprenticeship program. No matter what field you enter, learning all you need to could take several years. Not only do employees need technical skills, but many employers want employees who are good in communication and team work to solve problems, rather than one individual who will get the job done. Those who do show the necessary skills can become managers and supervisors if they work hard. Automotive manufacturing is a bit like a sports team: each person has to do a job in order for the next person to do theirs. This is truer of the automotive industry than in of other profession.
There are various positions in the automotive industry such as assemblers, who work mainly as a team to form subassemblies in order to make the entire automobile. Managers watch over these assemblers to ensure quality and safety control. Engineers build and test the automotive accessories and parts in before any of the other work can be done. Those who have artistic talents and who can communicate their vision find their niche as commercial and industrial designers, and they play a massive role in the automotive industry. These are the people who determine what will sell in the market place. Creating a well-built, stylish automobile can make or break a company by providing high or low automotive sales. Without a competitive car created by the designers, assembly-line workers, car salesmen, and everyone else in the industry would be out of a job. The automotive industry can be compared to a house of cards: if one of the cards in the house's foundation falls, the entire house falls. On the other hand, if the top of the automotive industry has poor business practices the entire house can fall as well.
The employment change in the automotive industry is expected to decline in the next decade. Automotive sales have declined overall the last few years with the struggling economy. The foreign market also is a factor with fewer people buying American-made cars. Automotive accessories and parts can be made at lower wages in other countries and can be shipped domestically. This has put pressure on domestic automotive manufacturing companies to produce high-quality goods with fewer workers, making it harder to maintain a quick turn-over rate. The manufacturing robots need qualified engineers to fix problems and provide maintenance. Those who work in administration department will also see jobs decline due to the decrease in employees to supervise.
Those who do work in the automotive-manufacturing sector make on average of $12–$30 per hour, depending on which type of job they have. The highest-paid employees are those who work as front-line supervisors, managers, or operating workers. General laborers who work the press machines cutting and setting making plastics and metals earn the lowest wage on average, at around $14 an hour. The normal work week is forty hours, but those who do work overtime will earn overtime pay. Supply and demand plays a role in overtime work as well. If specific types of cars are in demand, employees of that company will see their hours rise. Contracted workers have become common place now, because companies hire those on an as-needed basis. These types of workers can be hired relatively cheaply, compared to full-time employees.
Technology has hurt and helped the automotive industry at the same time. More automated robots are being used; these replace basic assembly-line and machine workers. One of the professions not to decrease in this field, compared with the others, is industrial engineering. These engineers are needed to test, analyze, and design production more efficiently.
Working conditions have improved greatly over the last thirty years with safer work regulations and practices implemented by unions. Unions are able to protect the workers from wrongful termination. Union members can also see an increase in their health benefits, pension plans, and paid vacations and holidays. Many auto workers belong to the United Auto Workers union or UAW.