A parts adviser is someone who sources spare parts, either for a specific car company such as Honda or Ford, or a range of models for a private garage. Their job is to identify the specific make and model of a vehicle, find a company that has the required part in stock and then sell it on to the customer.
What do you need to have studied?
No specific qualifications are needed in order to become a parts adviser, and the best way to enter the profession is through an apprenticeship. You can either apply directly to a car company or look for advertised positions as a junior parts adviser with a garage. It is usually preferable to have at least three GCSEs at grade C or above, especially if applying to one of the larger car companies.
How do you get a job?
If you are applying directly to a car company, it is best to go to their website and see if they offer apprenticeship programmes. Each company will have a slightly different application process, but generally you will need to fill out an online application form and then complete a basic literacy and numeracy test.
If you would prefer to work for a garage servicing different types of vehicles, you can search automotive job sites on the internet or look in trade magazines for jobs that offer apprenticeships. Many of the jobs advertised in this way will require the applicant to have experience in the field, so it may be useful to search for jobs as a junior parts adviser that will train you as an apprentice.
Is there an interview process?
Major car retailers may need to attend an interview to complete the application process. Those applying to garages will usually need to go through some form of selection process, though some establishments may be more informal than others.
What are the opportunities for career progression?
Regardless of whether you work for a garage’s body shop or a dealership that only sources parts for one make of car, the opportunities for career advancement are good. Once you have some experience of sourcing parts and have obtained a high level of knowledge about how different cars operate, it may be possible to apply for positions in the more prestigious car companies that will offer higher wages, or perhaps set up a garage of your own.
What’s the salary?
The salary as a trainee or apprenticeship at a garage may start as low as £10,000 per year, but after you are qualified salaries rise to around £16,000 to £24,000, depending on where in the country you work.
The larger car manufacturers differ in terms of the starting salary for their new apprentices. Most will pay you while you train, and those that don’t normally have short training periods that cover expenses such as travel and accommodation.
What benefits are there?
Parts advisers at garages work across a variety of vehicles, some of which may be rare or classic cars, while those at a dealership may be able to spend their time working on a specific type of car. With further training you may be able to specialise in certain types of models that appeal to you or even move into other areas of interest, such as motorsport.
What are the toughest parts of the job?
You will need to be able to deal with a large amount of technical information and figures, and be highly organised in ensuring that the right parts are being delivered at the right times. As a parts adviser you won’t work on the cars yourself, so those who are after a hands-on role may be better looking at a career as a technician instead.