With so many jobs being outsourced, it’s smart to look toward service industries as you plan your next move. For example, while an IT technician overseas may be able to serve U.S. customers, it takes a real person to replace auto glass in cars. We all know that glass breaks, often due to violent weather such as hail storms, auto accidents, vandalism, road debris, and break-ins. In short, there’s always a need for auto glass replacement services and this need requires local technicians skilled in providing these services.
Auto Glass Technician
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, automotive glass installers and repairers earned a median annual wage of $32,100, or $15.44 per hour, in 2008 with the top 10 percent of earners reaching $48,700. Job growth is expected to increase 2 percent over the decade from 2008 to 2018. While not terribly impressive growth-wise, if you look at the statistics in California where the car is king, you’ll see projected growth rates of 11 percent for the same time period. Incomes are higher in California as well with a median annual wage of $35,500, or $17.06 per hour, and wages of up to $59,200 for top earners.
Training to Become an Auto Glass Technician
In general, this occupation doesn’t require a college degree, but it does require specific skills, knowledge, and training. Most auto glass installers learn their trade on the job. This is long-term, continuous training. Because the windshield is part of the car’s safety system (it supports the roof in case of rollover accidents and acts as a barrier, keeping the car’s unrestrained occupants from being ejected in crashes), auto glass technicians must understand and follow all auto glass-related safety regulations and standards and the appropriate windshield installation procedures. Modern windshields are bonded to the car using urethane adhesives. Adhesive manufacturers often provide training and certification to the technicians working auto glass replacement shops.
If you’re considering becoming an auto glass replacement technician, you can search for a local auto glass replacement company and inquire about entry level positions. If you find a job this way, your employer will provide you with on-the-job training. For example, you’ll likely start as an assistant and work directly with one of the senior technicians on the staff. However, if you have some training and knowledge before applying, you’ll likely land a better job at a better wage.
The National Glass Association
Additional training, and a national certification program, is available from the National Glass Association (NGA). The NGA offers a series of inexpensive online courses such as its Auto Glass Technician: Level 1 training program. Currently, this bundled course costs $155 and provides you with installation and safety training videos, reference material, discussions of adhesives, standards, and non-glass parts. Other courses include two additional levels of Auto Glass Technician training and a Windshield Repair course.
These courses are an excellent first step toward becoming an auto glass technician. Later, your on the job experience and additional training can lead to certifications from the NGA. Because many employers value certification, the certification training and exam fees will likely be provided by your employer.
If you’re looking for a career that’s not likely to be outsourced and that you can start straight out of high school, consider a career as an auto glass technician.