A vehicle breakdown engineer checks vehicles at the roadside to find out why they have broken down and either repairs them on the spot or tows them away to a garage.
They are also known as Roadside Assistance Technicians.
You could be:
responding to emergency call-outs from a call centre
using the directions or postcode given to you by the customer to find the broken down vehicle
examining the vehicle on the spot, using high-tech diagnostic equipment, to try to identify faults
reassuring the driver and passengers
deciding whether the vehicle can be repaired at the roadside and, if so, trying to do so quickly using the spare parts and tools available
advising the driver what work needs to be done to the vehicle
loading vehicles that can't be fixed onto the back of your vehicle and taking the car and passengers to the nearest approved garage or their home
phoning your base for instructions and advice
keeping records of all work done.
The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:
where you work
the size of company or organisation you work for
the demand for the job.
Basic starting salaries for vehicle breakdown engineers are in the range of £20,000 to £25,000 a year. With further experience this can rise to between £31,000 to £35,000 or more. Some employers offer additional benefits such as company pension and staff discount schemes.
You would travel a great deal, sometimes in hazardous conditions.
You would have to try to carry out repairs quickly, outdoors in all weathers, close to passing traffic and at times under pressure.
You would wear overalls to protect you against oil and grease.
Most of the time you would work alone.
At times you would have to work shifts and be on call to cover evenings, nights, weekends and public holidays (particularly busy times for vehicle patrols).
Entrants are usually qualified motor vehicle technicians, with the appropriate Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQ) at (SCQF Level 7) or equivalent qualification (see Motor Vehicle Technician), including relevant work experience.
To train as a motor vehicle technician, you do not always need formal qualifications but many employers look for English, Maths and a science or technological subject at National 4.
You could study the Foundation Apprenticeship in Automotive (SCQF Level 4) in S3-S6, which can help to get into a relevant Modern Apprenticeship.
You may have to take an aptitude test.
A clean driving licence is essential and a Large Goods Vehicle (LGV) licence could be useful.
You should apply to the DVLA for a digital tachograph driver smart card (digicard) and the DVSA for a Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) card. The CPC card is given after 35 hours periodic training. This is sometimes called a Driver Qualification Card (DQC).
If you apply as a qualified motor vehicle technician, you may have to pass a driving assessment and written tests and show technical skill.
You would need to pass a medical examination.
Many vehicle breakdown engineers work for the large national breakdown services such as the AA, the RAC and Green Flag. You may also work in garages, which have contracts with one of these companies and other motoring organisations.
You will already be a qualified motor vehicle technician with several years' experience.
You may work towards the IMI Roadside Accreditation. This involves sitting practical exams and completing online knowledge tests. There are four levels of job roles within IMI Accreditation Roadside: Tyre Technician, Assistance/Recovery Technician, Diagnostic Technician and Master Technician.
Organisations such as the AA and the RAC may offer their own training schemes.
You may be able to move on to a management role.
In the larger organisations you could become a training instructor.
For more information please see organisations listed below: