All Things Political

Auto Dealer Industry Job Outlook

Employment in automobile dealers 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.

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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.

Consumers' increasing use of the Internet to research automobile purchases will also contribute to employment declines. As consumers become more knowledgeable about automobiles, salespersons will need less time to inform customers of vehicle features and options, making these workers more productive.

The need to replace workers who retire or transfer to other occupations will result in many job openings for workers in automobile dealers—retail salespersons in particular. Some dealers are trying to reduce turnover among salespersons by using alternative sales techniques and compensation systems, such as paying salaries rather than commissions. This may lead to increased income stability, and, therefore, fewer turnovers in the sales department. Dealers continue to seek highly educated salespersons, so those who have a college degree and previous sales experience will have the best job opportunities.

Opportunities in vehicle maintenance and repair should be favorable for persons who complete formal automotive service technician training. The growing complexity of automotive technology increasingly requires highly trained automotive service technicians and mechanics to service vehicles. Automotive service technicians in this industry may expect steady work compared to retail salespersons because changes in economic conditions have little effect on this part of the dealer's business.

Opportunities in management occupations will be best for persons with college degrees and workers with considerable industry experience. However, consolidation of new car dealers will further limit the number of managerial jobs. Competition for managerial positions will remain relatively keen.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Career Guide to Industries, 2010-11 Edition

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