Kaimahi Hiko a-Waka
This job is sometimes referred to by alternative titles
Automotive electricians install, maintain and repair electrical wiring, parts and electrical and electronic systems in vehicles and marine equipment.
Automotive electricians with up to two years’ experience usually earn
$16-$20 per hour
Qualified automotive electricians with more than two years’ experience usually earn
$20-$38 per hour
Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, 'Occupational Outlook – Automotive Technicians and Electricians', 2016.
Pay for automotive electricians varies depending on skills and experience.
- Apprentice automotive electricians, and those with less than two years’ experience, usually earn between minimum wage and $20 an hour.
- Qualified automotive electricians and those with three to five years’ experience can earn between $20 and $35 an hour.
- Senior automotive electricians, or those working in supervisory positions, can earn between $20 and $38 an hour.
- PAYE.net.nz website – use this calculator to convert pay and salary information
- Employment New Zealand website - information about minimum wage rates
Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, 'Occupational Outlook – Automotive Technicians and Electricians', 2016
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the figures and diagrams in our job information)
What you will do
Automotive electricians may do some or all of the following:
- carry out tests on automotive electrical systems to diagnose faults
- repair and replace automotive electrical systems such as charging and starting systems
- repair and replace electronic systems such as engine management systems, air-conditioning systems, ABS brakes, electronically controlled gearboxes, instrument panels and vehicle computers
- install car security and entertainment systems.
Skills and knowledge
Automotive electricians need to have knowledge of:
- automotive electronics, electrical theory and circuit diagrams
- vehicle components
- basic engineering
- basic vehicle mechanics.
- work regular business hours but may also work overtime and be on call
- work in workshops and garages
- may travel locally to call-outs on the road.
What's the job really like?
Just the Job video - Automotive Electrician
Danielle checks out one of the country's busiest automotive electrical workshops in Ashburton - 5.53 mins. (Video courtesy of MITO)
Clinton: Luckily for Danielle right here in Ashburton is one of the country’s busiest automotive electrical workshops. Here to show her around the job is automotive electrical technician Mike Bright.
Danielle: Hi, I’m Danielle.
Mike: Hi, I’m Mike. I hear you’re interested in doing auto-electrical work.
Danielle: Yes, I am.
Mike: Would you like to come inside and I’ll show you what it’s all about?
Mike: What we do basically is just to repair, service and maintain electrical systems on vehicles. We cover agricultural equipment, trucks and buses, cars, motorbikes. We get ride-on mowers here and four-wheel drive vehicles.
Mike: OK we’re out in the yard here, and one of the first jobs we’ll get you to do is finish installing this speaker here on this sound system. But before we do that, we need to get you into your safety overalls. There you go.
Mike: The type of person that would suit working in this industry really needs to be self-motivated, needs to be keen and they need to have an actual interest in the industry. A good practical outlook is helpful.
Mike: OK, looking good! Rightio, first up then, what I need you to do is to clamp these wires into the back of this speaker here. So the red one goes into the plus there, and the black one goes into the minus there. There you go, there’s a screwdriver.
Mike: Yep, and then just put it back into the hole there.
Clinton: With the speaker installed, it’s time to test the sound system.
Mike: Sounds good to me – job well done!
Mike: On to the next one!
Mike: OK, this is brand new-built bus, we’re going to out and road test it. We need to check certain parameters are working correctly. This is Serge, he’s going to be our driver today.
Clinton: But before they can head off on the road there’s a faulty door to be fixed, so Mike sets up the laptop to diagnose the source of the problem.
Mike: OK, so we’ve got the laptop hooked up to the body control modules, so we just need to check what inputs and outputs we’ve got there to see why the doors aren’t opening. This gives us a list of all our inputs and outputs. So when they’re white, that means they’re switched on, and when they’re black, that means they’re switched off. Now one thing that I have noticed here, is that the door amp switch is not on, and if the door amp is not on, we can’t close the doors. So I'd say that our problem is in that circuit.
Mike: OK first up, we need to have a look underneath and just make sure that that ramp switch is actually connected, and the wire for that is just under here, and that looks pretty good to me.
Mike: So the next thing we need to do is make sure there is no dust or debris trapped underneath the ramp, so I just need to pull it over like so. Straight away we can see that there’s a stone stuck underneath the ramp.
Danielle: So that’s what was stopping the doors from closing?
Mike: That’s correct.
Mike: For me what I find interesting about this job is pretty much when you turn up for work, you get given a job. Something doesn’t work, you get to play around with it, work out how it’s supposed to work and then you fix it and you send the customer away quite happy.
Mike: Now the opportunities in the auto-electrical industry are endless really. After your basic apprenticeship, you can move into the air-conditioning side and become a fully qualified air-conditioning technician. You can go into first-line management, and take on a management position at the company you’re working in, or alternatively you can go and set up on your own. There’s a high demand for auto-electrical technicians.
Danielle: Hi, are you Mark?
Mark: Yes I am.
Danielle: Mike told me I’m going to be working with you on some aircon.
Mark: Yep, that’s right. What we’ve got here is a tractor that the air-conditioning is not working. So what we’re going to do is, we’ve got a temperature gauge here, and we’re just going to start the tractor up briefly, just to see what the temperature is coming out of these vents up here.
Mark: Right. As you can see, it’s pretty warm coming out these vents. It’s not working at all. So what we’ll do next is we’ll go down and check the gauges and see what they’re reading.
Mike: In this job you definitely need to be able to think outside of the square. Although the principles of how things work are pretty much the same across all the vehicles, the way in which you go about finding them, or fixing them, varies across all the different types of vehicles.
Mark: So if you just shine that light around some of these connections up here and see any of that dye coming out there.
Danielle: I think I’ve found something Mark.
Mark: Have ya?
Clinton: Having located the leak in the air-conditioning system, the rubber seal is replaced and it’s all cool inside the tractor.
Mike: Good subjects to study I would say would be maths, English, maybe even a science kind of qualification, some technical and definitely computer studies.
Danielle: So what should it be reading?
Mark: It should be about six degrees, it’s working well.
Mark: Good job, well done.
Mike: I thought Danielle did really well today. She was very keen and enthusiastic to learn. She followed instructions really well and she carried out all the tasks successfully, which is all we can ask.
Danielle: I really enjoyed turning the tractor on with the aircon job, that was really cool. And I just think it could be a good career path for me.
Clinton: A National Certificate in Automotive Electrical Engineering (Level 4) takes three to four years of on-the-job training to complete. Students can take part in a secondary school automotive training programme called StartUp, which is run by MITO and provides a pathway for students into the automotive industry. The demand for automotive electrical technicians is growing as manufacturers are installing more electronic components in new vehicles.
To become a qualified automotive electrician you need to complete an apprenticeship and gain a Level 4 National Certificate in Motor Industry (Automotive Electrical and Mechanical Engineering), through MITO.
- MITO website - find out more about the National Certificate in Motor Industry (Automotive Electrical and Mechanical Engineering) (Level 4)
Students can also take part in a secondary school automotive training programme called Startup, which is run by MITO and provides a pathway for students into the automotive industry. The programme includes both theory and practical components, so students can gain NCEA credits as well as practical work experience. Students can also gain the Level 1 National Certificate in Motor Industry (Foundation Skills).
Automotive electricians need to be:
- accurate, logical and methodical
Useful experience for automotive electricians includes electrical or mechanical work, computer work and any work involving vehicles.
Automotive electricians need to have good hand-eye co-ordination and normal colour vision. They also need to be agile and have good flexibility for working in small spaces.
Find out more about training
- 0800 882121 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.mito.org.nz
What are the chances of getting a job?
Opportunities for automotive electricians are good due to growing demand for their services and too few people training for the role.
Because of this, the job appears on Immigration New Zealand's long-term skill shortage list, which means the Government is actively encouraging skilled automotive electricians from overseas to work in New Zealand.
Demand for automotive electricians has increased largely because newer cars have more complex electrical systems that require people with specialist skills to work on them.
Types of employers
Automotive electricians work for:
- specialised auto-electrical workshops
- motor vehicle dealerships
- general motor vehicle servicing companies
- automotive engineering workshops.
- Immigration New Zealand, ‘Long-term Skill Shortage List’, accessed December 2016, (www.immigration.govt.nz).
- NZ Motor Industry Training Organisation (MITO),'Investment Plan 2015-2016, 2016.
Progression and specialisations
Qualified automotive electricians may progress with further training to become senior automotive electricians.
Automotive electricians may also move into management or customer service roles, or into other engineering or automotive occupations. With experience, they may start their own business and become self-employed.
Automotive electricians may choose to specialise in areas such as fuel injection systems, computer repairs or working on certain types of vehicles. They may also move into working in hydraulics.
Last updated 8 June 2017