These vehicle technicians help to keep road travel safe by repairing, changing, balancing and mounting rubber tires on a wide range of personal and commercial vehicles. The majority of work for independent vehicle repair shops, emergency roadside assistance companies, automotive stores, car and truck dealerships, and tire shops are in every region. The best tire changers and repairers work in “pit crews” at major professional racing and driving events. Tire repairers and changers are adept at trouble-shooting common problems that arise with the use of vehicle tires, including repairing punctures, replacing worn or damaged tires, balancing and alignment of vehicles, and providing assistance for consumers or commercial truckers who are stranded on the side of the road with flat tires.
- As of 2008, there were well over 100,000 skilled tire changers and repairers working in the U.S.
- Tire changers and repairers must learn how to manage over 200 different brands of tires and well over 500 different tire sizes.
- Jobs for tire changers and repairers are readily available in all regions in the nation due to America’s love of vehicles.
- Entry-level jobs as tire changers and repairers can be obtained with just a high school diploma.
- Tire changers and repairers receive almost all of their training on the job through mentoring programs.
Work Environment for Tire Changers and Repairers
Tire changers and repairers most often work in an automotive shop environment, garage, and tire manufacturing plant or outdoors in the elements. For those who provide tire services for emergency customers, they may work remotely using their own vehicle or work as part of a tow and repair team driving a wrecker truck. The work is manual labor that requires a great deal of physical strength, the ability to lift up to 80 lbs. unassisted and repetitive work which can include walking, standing, bending, reaching, kneeling and gripping continually throughout an eight-hour day, for 40 hours a week. The job requires the use of a variety of power and air tools which are very dangerous and loud, so ear and eye protection is mandatory. Work may be performed individually or as part of teams and must be efficient to satisfy the demands of customers. Tire repairers, who work for pit crews at major racing and driving competitions, must be able to change a tire in less than three minutes.
Education, Training and Licensing
Employers of tire changers and repairers most often require candidates to have at least a high school diploma or an equivalent such as a general education degree (GED). Students who are interested in this line of work should concentrate on courses in mathematics, English and automotive mechanics while in school or take vocational classes. In addition, tire repair technicians must have some experience with general vehicle repair such as handling routine maintenance of their personal vehicle and being comfortable working on cars and trucks.
Most tire repairers and changers receive full on-the-job training conducted by on-site managers and more experienced staff. As each work order comes in, new tire repairers and changers have the opportunity to observe the work in progress, learning the right techniques for changing, balancing, repairing and replacing tires. Once they have these skills down, they are then allowed to learn how to use the power tools and air guns safely to remove and replace tires.
Each shop has its own requirements in terms of tire changer and repair person certifications, but most often they are sponsored by the automotive association that the shop is a member of or in accordance with corporate guidelines. There is no special state certification or licensing requirements for tire changers or repairers who work in automotive shops, however, for those who perform emergency roadside services or work on wreckers, they may be required to obtain a commercial driver’s license to operate the vehicle and the towing equipment on board.
Employment Figures, Projections, Outlook and Earnings
As of May of 2009, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated there were 92,440 tire repair persons and changers working in the U.S. alone.
Government labor reports released by the BLS state that employment in this field should grow at a rate of approximately 2.2% from 2008 to 2018, which is about the average for all occupations. Since American consumers have a great love for their automobiles, trucks and other vehicles that require the use of rubber tires, repair persons will continue to be in demand to handle maintenance. Tire repairers and changers can find many career opportunities in metropolitan areas as well as in many other regions in the nation.
Most recent BLS reports indicate that the average annual wage for tire changers and repairers was $24,620 as of May 2009. The middle 50% earned around $23,120. While the lowest 10% of tire changers and repairers earned an annual income at or below $16,920, the top 10% earned approximately $35,300 per year based on documented wages.