Automotive Industry Workers


Education and Training Requirements

High School

Many automotive industry jobs require mechanical skills, so you should take advantage of any shop programs your high school offers, such as auto mechanics, electronics, welding, drafting, and computer programming and design. In the core subject areas, mathematics, including algebra and geometry, is useful for reading blueprints and using computer programs that direct machine functions. Chemistry is useful for workers who need to be familiar with the properties of metals. English classes are also important to help you communicate verbally with both supervisors and coworkers and to read and understand complex instructions.

Postsecondary Training

Many of the jobs in an automotive plant are classified as semiskilled or unskilled positions, and people with some mechanical aptitude, physical ability, and a high school diploma are qualified to do them. However, there is often stiff competition for unskilled and semiskilled jobs with large automakers like General Motors, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles because they offer good benefits and pay compared to jobs that require respective similar skill levels. Therefore, if you have some postsecondary training, certification, or experience, you stand a better chance of getting a job in the automotive industry than someone with only a high school diploma.

Formal training for machining, welding, and toolmaking is offered in vocational schools, vocational-technical institutes, community and technical colleges, and private schools. Increasingly, such postsecondary training or certification is the route many workers take to getting an automotive industry job. In the past, apprenticeships and on-the-job training were the routes many workers took to get factory jobs, but these options are not as widely available today. Electricians, who generally must complete an apprenticeship, may find work in automotive plants as maintenance workers.

For precision metalworkers and machinists and other semiskilled automotive workers, the National Tooling and Machining Association operates training centers and apprentice programs and sets skill standards. 

Other Education or Training

Automobile and automobile parts manufacturers have partnered with community and technical colleges in the Midwest and Southeast to develop training and apprenticeship programs targeted for automotive industry workers employed and students seeking employment in semiskilled and skilled occupations in the automotive manufacturing and automotive parts industries. For example, Autocam (, a precision manufacturer for both the automotive and medical industries, has partnered with the Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) in Michigan and a handful of automotive and automotive parts manufacturing companies to operate a talent development program for technicians and engineers interested in developing their advanced manufacturing skills presently in demand for these two related automotive industries. 

Continuing education opportunities are provided by the American Welding Society, National Tooling and Machining Association, SAE International, and other associations at the national and state levels. Contact these organizations for more information.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

Certification is available but not required for many of the positions in an automotive production plant. The American Welding Society offers a variety of designations to welding professionals (such as certified welder, certified welding engineer, certified associate welding inspector, certified robotic arc welding, and certified welding inspector) to members who meet education and professional experience criteria as well as pass an examination. 

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

No prior experience is needed for many semiskilled and unskilled jobs, but those with prior work experience will increase their chances of landing a job, getting promoted, and possibly earning higher pay.

Working in an automotive production plant can be physically challenging. For many jobs, you need the physical capability to stand for long periods, lift heavy objects, and maneuver hand tools and machinery. Of course, some jobs in an automotive production plant can be performed by a person with a physical disability. For example, a person who uses a wheelchair may work well on an assembly line job that requires only the use of his or her hands. Automotive workers should have hand and finger dexterity and the ability to do repetitive work accurately and safely.