Parts Salesperson  What They Do

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Parts Salespersons Career Video

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dotKnown in the industry as "jobbers," automotive parts specialists work in warehouses where they track down parts -- everything from the simplest oil filter for a five-year-old car to a ball bearing for a '56 Cadillac.

"The opportunities are unlimited," says Denise Faguy, a spokesperson for an automotive industries association.

dotParts specialists need to understand how a vehicle works. They also have to interpret customers' needs. This work involves a bit of salesmanship to move specific lines of products. As a result, communication skills are essential.

dotParts specialists become familiar with a wide range of vehicles -- everything from farm equipment to trucks to your average car. Getting a part from point A to point B may sound simple enough, but once that vehicle passes a certain age, parts become scarce. A good jobber knows where to find that part and how to get it to the customer before tempers fray.

"I managed to track down some ball joints for a 1959 Cadillac last fall," says Pat Kinch, owner of an automotive parts store. "We finally found a guy in California who had two. It ended up costing $500 each for what should have cost $60 or $80, but that's what you pay for when you're into these antiques."

dotThe parts industry itself is undergoing a change in its image. "It's quickly shedding its blue-collar stereotype," says John Reilly, spokesperson for the Automotive Parts and Accessories Association.

Part of the reason for the change in image is the fact that more women are becoming interested in fixing their own vehicles. In addition, the length of time that people own their cars has now increased to an average of eight and a half years. And that means more people are out there looking for more parts.

"We're excited about that," Reilly says.

dotBut there's more to parts than just the nuts and bolts of the engine. Almost anything that goes into a vehicle these days is replaceable. That means a smoker who drops burning ash onto his shiny new leather bucket seat can get the entire seat reupholstered. It also means that there are jobbers out there who specialize in matching paint for both the interior and exterior of your car.

Just the Facts

Want a quick overview of what this career is about?Check out Just the Facts for simple lists of characteristics.

At a Glance

Track down vehicle parts for customers or auto service technicians

  • Computer savvy is becoming increasingly necessary
  • You have to know about everything from farm equipment to the average family car
  • Many employers require some formal training