Shop Talk

Amateur vs. Professional

I’ve been pondering this and have decided there just might actually be three levels of auto repair available to the average person: Amateur, Less Than Professional (LTP,) and Professional.

I would put my neighbor Lloyd in the LTP category. He’s always working on cars for people, and his backyard is generally full of them. He works on engines deep into the night with loud music playing and bright lights glaring. As an employee at the auto parts store around the corner, he can take advantage of his employee discount—now there’s a perk! I think of him has LTP because I doubt the cars kept there overnight are covered by his insurance, I don’t know if he’s willing to take a hit if it wasn’t fixed right the first time, and surely you don’t leave with a nice list of all the work that was done.

Being curious, I put this out on Facebook and benefitted from the answers I got back. Some have been edited for clarity:

“An amateur is a friend who fixes your car for free. A pro is someone who fixes your car for a small fortune.”

“A pro is someone who has a college associates degree in his practice or who has been to the available specialty schools and courses available to mechanics. An amateur is someone like me, who learns from experience and making mistakes, which is only acceptable if I own the car being fixed! This is usually based on being poor and buying lots of old cars in order to keep them running if possible.”

“Formal training, experience, oversight and tools. I can’t speak to cars but I have been a professional computer technician before. When I work on a computer problem now I still have a lot of knowledge and experience but I have to make do with my own tools and whatever help I can find if I need it. When I worked in a tech shop every tool imaginable (hardware and software) was right there so things could always be done the right way. There were also other techs around to help out or share knowledge and experience”

“My son is a mechanic. I would say make sure they have some ASE certifications. I always ask about that when I take my car somewhere. The more they have the better they will be. I think there is a total of 8, and they are hard to pass”

“With a professional your car is fixed right the first time.”  Note: Said more than once.

So…what are your thoughts?  What separates the amateur from the professional and is there a stage in between?

Ann Betts (6 Posts)

Ann Betts was happy to join the talented and vibrant team of individuals at Vital Media in 2013. Ann brings with her many years of experience having worked for WordPerfect, Microsoft, and Muzak. In many of those positions she conducted training seminars and provided technical support to end users. She also comes from a family of "car amateurs and professionals" with one brother who has built a strong reputation with his auto body shop work over the past 20 years. Ann has no "spare time" as she fills it with family, friends, faith, and well, Facebook.

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