As much as it seems that specialization is the wave of the future, it is important for any technician to take a holistic approach to automotive repairs. Let's examine a hypothetical case.
A customer complains of transmission problems. The shifting does not occur at the proper time or speed. If the transmission specialist test-drives the vehicle he or she may agree that indeed the problem is in the transmission. But the automatic transmission often relies on engine vacuum and throttle pressure - or even computers - to determine the correct shift point. So if the transmission expert is unaware of the function of the engine, the problem may be incorrectly diagnosed as strictly transmission-related. The actual reason may be a vacuum-related problem. A leak in the engine's intake manifold will result in insufficient vacuum for the transmission modulator to function. A transmission rebuild will not cure the problem, but a gasket or vacuum hose may.
No specialist can live in a world of his or her own. The mechanic or technician must be able to see and understand the interrelationship of all the part and integrate them into the whole. Although specialization may be the trend, it is important for the technician to understand the operation of all the other systems in the automobile, heavy equipment, or truck.
THE TURBULENT FUTURE
The near future holds excellent opportunities for the auto repair person. Today there is an urgent need for qualified people. In fact, there is even a need for less-qualified people.
If you get half a dozen people in a room and begin talking about automobile repair, you are bound to get more than one story of despair. You may hear of how someone took a car to the shop and got the bad news that it would not be ready for several days. If the problem was not severe, the person was probably given an appointment for sometime the following week, or even later. There just aren't enough auto repair technicians to go around. And this situation is not expected to change for some time to come. If new hybrid engines are brought into production, the need will grow for people trained in the new technologies.
An even more significant problem today is that there are very few well-qualified technicians. Whenever people find auto technicians they can trust, they stick to them like glue. In fact, this is part of the reason that the public frequently believes that it is being cheated by those in the auto repair business. There is really not very much dishonesty in the field. Problems often occur, however, because the repair people do not fully understand the operation of the vehicle well enough to diagnose problems accurately. When someone blows a diagnosis, the most common thing to do is try to explain to the customer that there is more than one problem and try again. This sort of trial-and-error method of auto repair is not well accepted; especially when the consumer must pay for the mechanic's mistakes. So it is not so much a case of out-and-out cheating as it is of simple ignorance of the totality of the machine that creates the problems and the mistrust.
As much as the motoring public sorely needs good mechanics to fix its cars, it often must settle for marginal work because there are too few experienced and expert technicians available who can do the job. Those who are exceptional can get almost any price they ask for their services. Even if we see a radical shift to a new technology, say, hydrogen fuel cells, the likelihood is that mechanics will still be in great demand.
OUR MOBILE SOCIETY
There is a dire need for more technicians in the near future, and it is expected to remain the same, or even increase, in the next century. Americans love their cars, and they are not about to give them up, no matter how high the cost of fuel gets. Our whole society is based on mobility. We cannot rely on mass transit to get to everything, nor will we be willing to go everywhere that way in the future. We want our freedom to go where we please, when we please.
As a mobile society, we always will need qualified people to repair our vehicles when they break down. Perhaps we won't recognize the cars of the future. They may be powered by gasoline, solar energy, electricity, propane, alcohol, hydrogen, or any number of other exotic fuels. But no matter how they are powered, professional automotive technicians will be needed to keep them rolling-or perhaps hovering, if that be the case.
The auto repair jobs of the next ten years are likely to be found in dealerships and independent repair shops. Fewer will be in traditional service stations, as more convert to gas/food outlets without road mechanic services.