Automotive Industry Workers


Employment Prospects


While the U.S. Department of Labor projections for auto industry workers vary according to specific occupation, most auto industry workers can expect to find jobs with both domestic automakers, such as the Big Three, and with foreign automakers like Mitsubishi and Honda, which both have large assembly plants in the United States. Large assembly plants may employ several thousand workers. Parts production plants may employ fewer workers, but there are more of these plants. Assembly plants are generally located in or near large cities, especially in the Northeast and Midwest where heavy manufacturing is concentrated, although foreign manufacturers like Honda have moved assembly plants to the South in states such as South Carolina. Parts production plants vary in size, from a few dozen workers to several hundred. Employees of these plants may all work on one small part or on several parts that make up one component of an automobile. Parts production plants are located in smaller towns as well as urban areas. The production processes in agricultural and earth-moving equipment factories are similar to those in the automotive industry, and workers trained in welding, toolmaking, machining, and maintenance may find jobs with companies like Caterpillar and John Deere.

Starting Out

Hiring practices at large plants are usually very structured. Such large employers generally don't place "help wanted" ads. Rather, they accept applications year-round and keep them on file. Applicants generally complete an initial application and may be placed on a hiring list. Others get started by working as temporary or part-time workers at the plant and using their experience and contacts to obtain full-time, permanent positions. Some plants work with career services offices of vocational schools and technical associations to find qualified workers. Others may recruit workers at job fairs. Also, as with many large factories, people who have a relative or know someone who works at the plant usually have a better chance of getting hired. Their contact may put in a good word with a supervisor or advise them when an opening occurs.

Advancement Prospects

Automotive production plants are very structured in their paths of advancement. Large human resources departments oversee the personnel structures of all departments; each job has a specific description with specific qualifications. Union rules and contracts further structure advancement. Longevity is usually the key to advancement in an automotive plant. For many, advancement means staying in the same position and moving up on the salary scale. Others acquire experience and, often, further training to advance to a position with a higher skill level, more responsibility, and higher pay. For example, precision machinists may learn a lot about many different machines throughout their careers and may undergo training or be promoted to become precision metalworkers. 

Tips for Entry

Become certified in order to show employers that you have met the highest standards established by your industry.

Join unions to increase your chances of landing a job and receiving fair pay for your work.

Conduct information interviews with auto industry workers and ask them for advice on preparing for and entering the field.

Be willing to relocate. It may open more job opportunities.