Mechanic shortage: six-figure income jobs available in SE WI

How would you like to make six-figures at your job? What if I told you that you don't need a four-year degree?  

If you don't mind getting your hands dirty, auto dealers like Andrew Schlesinger of the Andrew Automotive Group are waiting to hire you. "We've recognized the need and the shortage," Schlesinger said. 

The shortage is happening in part because of auto technicians like Dean Peterson, who after almost 40 years, is about to hang up his tools. "I'm only a few years from retirement, maybe a few minutes," Peterson said. 

Paris Harris is part of the new guard of auto techs, but the new guard can't keep up with attrition in the ranks. Harris is skilled with a wrench, but says a computer is his most important tool. "You gotta be a scientist to fix cars nowadays," he said. 

New technology is part of why an auto technician's job is always changing. "I've honestly never worked on a carburetor," Harris said. 

Harris says he was enter the automotive field quickly. While studying for his two-year associate's degree at WCTC, he worked and earned money at Andrew Chevrolet. It's part of their program. "Two months at school, and then you would come to the dealership, get hands on experience for two months," Harris said. 

David Hoffman teaches a program at MCTC that takes nine months. "It's very fast-tracked," he said. The idea is to get students up to speed on the basics, then getting experience in the field as quickly as possible. "Every single person who wants a job in the auto field that wants one, will get placed," Hoffmann said.  

Hoffmann says money for tuition should not be an obstacle to enrolling, there is plenty of financial aid available, even dealerships that will pay for training. 

While making a $100K yearly salary will attract people, there is a catch. It doesn't come right away, and the money only comes to people who work hard. Dean Peterson should know, he's GM's 2014 Auto Technician of the Year. "If you are willing to work for it, (the job) can be very profitable for you," he said. 

If being an auto technician interests you, the ideal place to start would be with your high school guidance counselor. But another place to start is the Greater Milwaukee Auto Show. The show will have a job board with dozens of listings for all types of work and calling for all types of experience. Click here to check out the job board.  

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