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What does an Automotive Technician do?

Transportation is the life-blood of the American economy and Automotive Technicians are an important resource in keeping people moving and able to work, attend school and complete their daily activities. Automotive Technicians may be employed in an independent shop or work for a dealership that also repairs vehicles. Technicians may have interaction with customers on a daily basis and often build relationships with loyal customers that may frequent their shop for years or even decades.

auto technician

Automotive Technicians are responsible for completing general maintenance on vehicles brought in by customers. This may include tire rotation, oil changes, air filter replacement, coolant flushes, and engine tune-ups. Automotive Technicians are also required to troubleshoot a variety of vehicle problems and offer a solution. This may require significant diagnostic work and requires critical thinking skills. Some business specialize in certain repairs, such as transmissions or body work, allowing Automotive Technicians to hone their skills in a specific field, these positions generally offer higher salaries than standard positions.

As automotive technology increases, Automotive Technicians are required to be increasingly tech savvy. The use of computerized diagnostic equipment is now the norm in vehicle repair and many shops utilize electronic record keeping and computerized troubleshooting equipment. Online databases are used to search for and procure replacement parts and standardized computer based billing is common, requiring Automotive Technicians to translate their diagnosis to a written communication.

Automotive Technician careers are a high demand field that tend to have frequent turnover. While this position requires no formal education beyond a high school degree, many states require special licensing as evidence of skills and knowledge. This reduces poor customer impact and allows for the state to better regulate automotive repairs. This position generally does not have irregular or late hours, which also makes it attractive, however Automotive Technicians work substantially with their hands in physical labor positions and expect to get dirty in their line of work. Work related injuries are also a very real possibility in this field, though these are rare and generally minor.

What does a Lab Tech do?

A laboratory technician, also called a lab tech, performs a variety of tests on bodily fluids and cells to detect diseases, bacteria, parasites and other microorganisms. A lab tech often collects and prepares specimens that other, more skilled medical workers use to determine blood types, test blood to gauge the effectiveness of prescribed drugs, or analyze the chemical makeup of fluids.

lab tech

Tools of the trade and crucial skills

Lab techs often work under the supervision of more experienced laboratory technologists, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports. While lab technologists might perform much of the critical analytical work, they are dependent upon lab techs to help prepare specimens and operate a wide range of scientific equipment. Examples include drawing blood samples and cutting and staining tissue specimens for the technologist to examine under a microscope. The tests performed by lab techs often are less complex and not likely to produce errors, the Web site Medical Jobs states.

Instrumentation used by lab techs and technologists includes cell counters, microscopes, and computerized and highly specialized equipment capable of performing a wide range of testing procedures. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that much of the work done by lab techs has become more automated, and as a result, these professionals must be highly analytical and able to use good judgement.

Education and training

Lab techs typically need to complete an associate degree or certificate program, while technologists usually need at least a bachelor’s degree for employment, the BLS states. Length of coursework varies by program, but a typical community college lab tech program that culminates in an associate degree requires roughly 105 semester hours. The majority of classes in medical technology programs focus on clinical work and experience, with a handful of general education courses mixed in as well.

Core classes for medical technician training programs could include many of the following:

  • Medical terminology
  • Human anatomy and physiology
  • Clinical chemistry
  • Hematology
  • Immunology
  • Phlebotomy
  • Clinical microbiology

With additional schooling, many lab techs advance to better-paying jobs or positions with more responsibility, such as laboratory technologist, histotechnician or cytotechnologist.

Job prospects and earnings potential

The BLS predicts growth of 16 percent for medical lab techs. Hospitals are the main employer of lab techs, but many work in physicians offices and diagnostic laboratories as well.

What does a Lighting Technician do?

Do you have a techie’s sensibility but a love of the arts? A career as a lighting technician may be a perfect fit for you.

lighting technician

Lighting technicians play vital roles in film, television, and theatrical production. Properly lighting a scene–be it on camera or on stage–is crucial to setting the right mood. Think about your favorite horror movie, for example. Does the bad guy ever show up on a sunny day, or in the middle of a brightly-lit room? The answer, of course, is “no way.” That’s a lighting technician’s job.

Shed a little light: job skills and requirements

In order to become a lighting technician, you must first be aware that it can be both a physically and mentally demanding career. You might help design the lighting for a particular scene, set up lighting equipment, manage generators, or assist with rigging lights. Some lighting technicians are also licensed electricians, and therefore can perform more specialized duties. You may also work with production managers or cinematographers to develop and implement lighting effects, such as colors.

As a lighting technician, you may be working with very high-voltage equipment, so knowledge of and respect for safety standards is an absolute must. The industries that require lighting technicians are generally fast-paced and prone to last-minute changes, so adaptability and good team-working skills are also required.

Flipping the switch: changing training demands

Lighting technicians must understand electrical systems, film and television production, theatre production, and, thanks to ever-evolving digital technology, some computer science. There are several training and degree programs available, both on-campus and online, that can give you the foundational education you might need to become a lighting technician.

Depending on what industry you hope to work for, and how far you’d like to advance your career, you may be required to pursue an associate, bachelor’s, or even master’s degree. Coursework may include classes in photography, electrical systems, television production, lighting design, or circuits and wiring systems.

At the end of the tunnel: your career path

Once you’ve received your degree, there are several lighting-related career paths that you may want to pursue, depending on your other interests. You may want to work on a film or television set, or design lighting for the theater, an art gallery, nightclubs, or even a sports venue. The following are some potential career advancements you may work your way up to:

  • Lighting designer: works closely with a cinematographer or director to design the look and feel of the lighting for a scene
  • Lighting director: also known as a gaffer, heads up the electrical department on a film, television, or theater production

Salaries vary, depending on the industry you work in, but most lighting technicians are members of unions, so they earn a standard wage and enjoy health and vacation benefits.