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Elevating Technicians’ Image Takes A Village

In this new age of vehicle electrification, alternative mobility, autonomous driving and connected vehicles, the need for skilled, expert technicians couldn’t be greater, says Mary DellaValle, editor of ImportCar magazine.


In this new age of vehicle electrification, alternative mobility, autonomous driving and connected vehicles, the need for skilled, expert technicians couldn’t be greater.

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With that said, I’m sharing an excerpt from Director of Content Andrew Markel’s recent commentary. A former technician himself, he’s seen first-hand the progression in how technicians are viewed, but feels that work still needs to be done when it comes to our industry’s image and consumers’ perception, and I couldn’t agree more.

Most technicians are electricians, fabricators, engineers, IT troubleshooters and entrepreneurs all rolled into one. But, we are still fighting the image problem with consumers who think anyone can fix a car, or they are too smart to get their hands dirty.

The visual manifestation comes through in how technicians are depicted in the media, such as movies, television and magazines. But, it is not a problem for technicians around the world.

If you search the term “mechanic” (not too many photos come up using “technician”), you get an interesting perspective on how different cultures value automotive repair professionals.

In Europe, the technician typically wears a pair of bib overalls. In Asia, technicians usually wear a matching windbreaker/pants combo. They are always clean and free of stains. The technician is treated the same way as a doctor or an accountant — with respect.

Then, you get to the photos by American photographers. The typical image might have the technician wearing an old, second-hand work shirt that is dirty and untucked. To the photographer, the captured image appears authentic to what they have been taught by the popular media and culture.

What these photographs really illustrate is how people around the world value the people who fix their vehicles. I have seen shops in Europe, Asia and South America, and they aren’t that much different than those in America. There are good techs and bad ones, geniuses and goof-offs. But, no matter what language they speak, at the core, a technician is a technician.


American technicians are some of the best educated and most intelligent. Compared to the rest of the world, American technicians lead the way when it comes to diagnostics and electrical testing.

So, how did the image problem happen? Some blame Goober, Gomer and even the Fonz. But, somewhere, America lost respect for mechanical knowledge and hard work. What can we do to improve it?

What are you doing at your shop, in your community and within the various automotive groups to which you’re affiliated to help elevate the image of technicians? The livelihood of everyone who earns a living in this industry depends on it. We’d love to hear your thoughts, if you care to share them via my email.

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