Zoom into the automobile world

As a counsellor I come across many young people who are fascinated with automobiles and dream of making a career in that field.  For over a century now, the automobile industry has been flourishing despite some hiccups and is likely to continue to grow in the decades to come. 

The recession hasn’t hit the automobile sector too badly in India.  The launch of Tata’s Nano has signaled a new era of economical vehicles.

What the industry wants

Those who wish to make a career in the automobile sector need to be clear about their area of focus.  The industry requires designers, manufacturers, product development and quality control personnel, marketing, customer support and market research professionals.  If you are keen on getting into the automobile sector, start off by studying the fascinating history of the automobile. 

The top manufacturers, mostly in Germany, have set up museums describing in detail the development of their respective brands.  If you cannot visit these museums, you can get a virtual tour on the internet (see websites listed in  the accompanying Box).

If you wish to lay the foundation for your career through an engineering degree, it is not essential to do a B.E. in automobile engineering, since the sector requires electronics, mechanical, electrical, IT,  instrumentation, manufacturing and industrial engineers too.  
If you are a non-technical person, you can still make a successful career in marketing, product development, customer support or management in the auto sector.
The top ten manufacturers of automobiles already have their presence in India through big investments and are in the process of expansion.

Prospects for growth

Job opportunities in the sector can be broadly classified into 3 segments. The big manufacturers like Maruti, Hyundai etc; the suppliers like Mico, Lucas etc; and the dealers who take care of the retail side of the automobile industry.

Marketing sector

Sales units employ people for direct sales, marketing, selling finance and insurance and for used car sales. The starting salary for salespersons in a metro city would be in the range of Rs 12,000-Rs 15,000 and they would be able to earn almost the same amount every month through incentives. Top sales executives with experience of between 2-5 years could take home Rs 50,000-Rs 60,000 a month. A good performer, with 5 years’ experience, would be promoted to  sales manager/team leader and his salary could start at around Rs 35,000. With incentives , he could earn close to Rs 75,000 a month. The executives and managers selling insurance, finance and used cars would earn about 20 per cent lower than their colleagues in the new car sales. 

Service

A dealer would employ service technicians (who work on the car) and service advisers (who interact with the customer, take down the complaints and do the basic analysis by writing the job cards for the repairs).

Service technicians are normally ITI graduates or JOCs (those who have done job oriented courses) who earn between Rs 4,000 and Rs 6,000 as basic salary with the opportunity to also earn around 60 per cent more through incentives. Service advisers are persons with Automobile diplomas and earn between Rs 8,000 and Rs 10,000 besides incentives.

A service manager would  normally have graduated from being a sound service advisor and after about 6-8 years of service would get around Rs 35,000-Rs 45,000 as basic salary and another Rs 20,000 through incentives.

Manufacturing

Companies hire automobile engineers starting at around Rs 15,000-Rs 18,000 and when confirmed, they would get salaries in the range of Rs 25,000-Rs 30,000.
Various supervisors and managers, who have a post-graduate degree, would earn between Rs 40,000 and Rs 60,000 a month. Most plants are automated and when volumes are high, robots are used.

Most of the top companies recruit only from well known colleges/universities. The plants also recruit a fair number of MBA’s with an engineering background and management students to handle logistics and export divisions and these managers would have basic salary levels of Rs 50,000 a month.

Design

Top global auto companies have separate design/tech centres in cities like Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune and Gurgaon. Automobile Design Engineers are recruited at these centres. These tech designers would normally earn in the range of Rs 60,000-Rs 80,000 a month. To do the ground work, these tech centres also recruit mechanical engineers at Rs 20,000-Rs 25,000 a month.

Suppliers

India has not only become a big hub for manufacturing automobiles but is now a leading sourcing nation for auto parts. Most auto ancillaries in India not only cater to the Indian manufacturers but also to the export markets.

 Automobile engineers are required in these companies as they have to interact with the large manufacturers to produce auto components. BE (Mechanical) graduates/ Industrial Production and Industrial Engineers are recruited by these companies with a starting salary of Rs 20,000 a month.  Diploma holders start at lower levels but can catch up if they are good.

Each segment of the automobile industry also requires people in  accounts/finance, IT, HR, specialised trainers in marketing, sales and service.
 
If you have the drive and determination, you can make a good career in the commercial world of automobiles, either in a company manufacturing the vehicles or in those that market, service and re-do them all over the country.

The point to be kept in mind is that you should enter the automobile sector only if you have understood your own role, are willing to make a serious career in it and have expertise in what you intend to do —  and not just because you love zooming around in cars.  You have to be a creative person with a technical bent of mind. Those who wish to specialise in automobile engineering can seek admission in a four-year B.E/B.Tech in various colleges across the country.

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