You may be tempted to overlook the automotive industry when you're considering careers that pay lucratively, but a few careers in this field can pay well. Auto careers range from driving race cars to building a prototype for a new car. You can work on traditional cars, developing new ways to make them run better, or be involved in groundbreaking work in the growing electric car industry. Depending on the specialty you choose and how much education you have, working in the industry can bring you a good salary.
Body and Related Repairers
Workers who specialize in body repair are the highest paid of all car repair technicians, according to 2010 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Compared with tire repair, electronic equipment installation and repair, and glass repair and tire development, body repair employees made the highest wage at $41,270 a year on average. The body repair employees who work for car manufacturers or the government make even better pay, according to 2012 BLS data. Manufacturing brings $57,480 a year on average, and working for the federal government earns an average of $53,640. Postal service auto repairers make $57,070 a year.
Car racing is a particularly lucrative field in the auto industry. According to the BLS, body repairers who work in the racing industry make an average of $54,750 a year, and mechanics make $51,160 a year. First-line supervisors who oversee pit crew maintenance make even higher salaries of $67,960 a year on average. Mechanical engineers command the highest salary in the auto racing world -- $78,320 a year on average. A painter in the car racing industry who works on transportation equipment receives an average of $52,870 a year, the BLS reports.
Electric vehicles are a newer field within the automotive industry. Because work with electric vehicles is so specialized and typically requires a higher education, the pay is similarly greater, according to the BLS. Electric vehicles have a big need for engineers of differing specialties. These all command salaries ranging from $100,450 a year for electronics engineers to $77,160 a year for industrial engineers on average. Software developers and industrial production managers also earn high salaries of $94,680 and $91,460, respectively.
Insurance specialists play a vital role in the auto industry whenever accidents and crashes occur, and they receive relatively high salaries to go with their responsibilities. Auto claims adjusters usually have to undergo two years of vocational training, along with work experience, to identify and estimate car damage. As of 2010, auto insurance appraisers made an average salary of $56,230 a year, the BLS reports.
The automotive industry wouldn't be complete without considering the salespeople who make the final connection between a new car and its new owner. Sales associates have variable pay that depends on the dealership where they work, the compensation structure and how much of a bonus they can get for a certain number of sales. First-line supervisors of auto sales associates make relatively high salaries. According to 2010 BLS data, first-line supervisors who worked at dealerships made an average of $74,270 a year.