Auto Jobs and Careers
Automobile Dealer in Automobile Industry

Auto Jobs and Careers
Most automobile salespersons and administrative workers spend their time at shared desks or nearby offices in dealer showrooms. The competitive nature of selling is stressful. Employment in automobile dealer is expected to decline due to restructuring of dealer networks by major domestic auto manufacturers. Opportunities will be good for salespersons and customer service representatives with related experience and computer skills, and for automotive service technicians who have several years of experience or are ASE-certified.

Significant Points

  • Employment is expected to decline as industry consolidation continues
  • Opportunities should be favorable for automotive service technicians who complete formal training programs
  • Workers who have a college degree and previous sales experience will have the best opportunities for sales jobs
  • Average weekly earnings are higher than in other retail industries

Nature of the Industry

Automobile dealer is the link between the manufacturer of the automobile and the U.S. consumer. With their large inventories of cars, dealers provide consumers with a wide array of vehicles to meet their needs at different price points.

The automobile dealer industry sells most of the automobiles, light trucks, and vans that operate on the road today. Sales of these vehicles are subject to changing consumer tastes, the popularity of the manufacturer's vehicle models, and the intensity of competition with other dealers. Along with the sale of the car, most auto mobile dealers also sell additional automobile-related services to potential buyers. Auto Jobs and Careers in Automobile Industry

Auto Jobs and Careers. These services include extended warranties, undercoating, insurance, and financing. Aftermarket sales departments sell these services and other merchandise after vehicle salespersons have closed a deal. Sales of these packages greatly increase the revenue generated for each vehicle sold. Because sales of automobiles fluctuate significantly, automotive dealers offer generous incentives, rebates, and financing deals during slow periods to maintain high sales volumes and to reduce inventories.

Performing repair work on vehicles is another profitable service provided in this industry. Service departments at motor vehicle dealers provide repair services and sell accessories and replacement parts. Although most service departments perform repairs only, some dealers also have body shops to do collision repair, refinishing, and painting. The work of the service department has a major influence on customers' satisfaction and willingness to purchase future vehicles from the dealer. Auto Jobs and Careers in Automobile Industry


Automobile dealer provided about 1.2 million wage and salary jobs in 2008. The vast majority of employment was in new car dealerships.

For many years, the trend for new car dealers has been toward consolidation. Franchised dealers have decreased in number, while their sales volume has increased. Larger dealers can offer more services, typically at lower costs to themselves and the customer. Auto Jobs and Careers in Automobile Industry

Occupations in the Industry

Sales and related occupations These occupations are among the most important in automobile dealerships and account for 37 percent of industry employment. Sales workers' success in selling vehicles and services determines the success of the dealer. Automotive retail salespersons usually are the first to greet customers and determine their purpose in coming to the dealer.

Salespersons then explain and demonstrate vehicles' features in the showroom and on the road. Working closely with automotive sales worker supervisors, salespersons negotiate the final terms and price of the sale with customers. Automotive salespersons must be tactful, well groomed, and able to express themselves: their success depends on winning the respect and trust of prospective customers. Auto Jobs and Careers in Automobile Industry

In support of the service and repair department, parts salespersons supply vehicle parts to technicians and repairers. They also sell replacement parts and accessories to the public. Parts managers run the parts department and keep the automotive parts inventory. They display and promote sales of parts and accessories and deal with garages and other repair shops seeking to purchase parts. Auto Jobs and Careers

Installation, maintenance, and repair-related occupations Workers in automotive maintenance and repair are another integral part of automobile dealers, constituting 25 percent of industry employment. Automotive service technicians and mechanics service, diagnose, adjust, and repair automobiles such as cars, vans, pickups, and SUVs. These workers are the largest repair occupation at 18 percent of industry employment. Closely related to service technicians, automotive body and related repairers repair and finish vehicle bodies, straighten bent body parts, remove dents, and replace crumpled parts that are beyond repair. Auto Jobs and Careers

Supervisors of installation, maintenance, and repair workers, usually called shop managers are among the most experienced service technicians. They supervise and train other technicians to make sure that service work is performed properly. Service managers oversee the entire service department and are responsible for the department's reputation, efficiency, and profitability. Service departments use computers to increase productivity and improve service workflow by scheduling customer appointments, troubleshooting technical problems, and locating service information and parts.

Service advisors cover service departments' administrative and customer relations duties. They greet customers, listen to their description of problems or service desired, write repair orders, and estimate the cost and time needed to do the repair. They also contact customers when technicians discover new problems with their vehicles and explain to customers the work performed and the charges associated with the repairs. Auto Jobs and Careers

Jobs Outlook

Employment in automobile dealer is expected to decline due to restructuring of dealer networks by major domestic auto manufacturers. Opportunities will be good for salespersons and customer service representatives with related experience and computer skills, and for automotive service technicians who have several years of experience or are ASE-certified.

Wage and salary jobs at automobile dealers are projected to decline 6 percent over the 2008-2018 period, compared with 11 percent growth for all industries combined. Recently, U.S. automakers have been forced to restructure their business operations—directly affecting the majority of car dealer establishments in the country. Restructuring efforts include offering fewer brands of vehicles and ending franchise agreements with a significant percentage of dealers in the coming years.

Many of these locations are expected to close or to become independent used car dealerships. Consolidation of firms, which has been underway for some time, is expected to increase. The result is expected to be a more streamlined industry with fewer dealers responsible for total new car sales. Accordingly, employment in 2018 is expected to be below 2008 levels.

Employment in new car dealerships will decline because of the increasing durability of cars and the tendency for consumers to keep vehicles for longer periods of time. Used car dealers will also be affected by these trends, though not as significantly as new dealers. Both new and used car dealers will continue to seek greater financial and operational efficiency and flexibility, resulting in greater emphasis on aftermarket services, such as financing and vehicle service and repair. This focus will require additional workers—for example, loan officers and service technicians—to help with tasks that are not traditionally completed by workers in the sales force. Auto Jobs and Careers in Automobile Industry


Average weekly earnings of nonsupervisory workers in automobile dealers were $609 in 2008, substantially higher than the $386 average for retail trade and about the same as the $608 average for all private industry. Earnings vary depending on occupation, experience, and the dealer's geographic location and size.

Occupation Automobile Dealers All Industries
First-line supervisors/managers of retail sales workers $33.73 $16.97
First-line supervisors/managers of mechanics, installers, and repairers $29.17 $27.55
Automotive service technicians and mechanics $19.61 $16.88
Automotive body and related repairers $18.95 $17.81
Retail salespersons $18.91 $9.86
Counter and rental clerks $17.90 $10.05
Parts salespersons $16.26 $13.71
Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks $14.74 $15.63
Office clerks, general $11.64 $12.17
Cleaners of vehicles and equipment $9.80 $9.35
SOURCE: BLS Occupational Employment Statistics, May 2008.

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