A Staggering Forecast For 12V Installers

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car audio installer

The future of car audio installers has been predicted by none other than the US Dept of Labor.

Its Bureau of Labor Statistics says the number of car audio installers/automotive electricians will fall by 50 percent between 2014 and 2024, making it one of the fastest declining professions.

In fact, car audio installers/auto techs are second in decline only to “locomotive firers.”

The Bureau refers to installers/techs as “Electronic equipment installers and repairers, motor vehicles.” It’s definition is those who “Install, diagnose, or repair communications, sound, security, or navigation equipment in motor vehicles.” It sites examples as “Automotive Electrician, Car Alarm Installer, Car Stereo Installer, GPS Car Navigation Installer.”

The rate of decline in this profession is higher than telephone operators, which will decline at a rate of 42 percent and postal mail sorters, which will decline by about 34 percent.

Dept Labor Installers

You can see the full chart here.

The number of installers/techs will drop from 11,500 in  2014 to 5,800 in 2024, the Bureau predicts.  It lists the average salary for the profession in 2015 at $31,360.

The Fed bases its estimates on industry output, industry employment, employment openings, the labor force and the economy as defined here.

JL Audio’s Manville Smith said, “There are two ways of looking at it.  The doom and gloom view is that many of us will be looking for other work soon. The positive approach is to identify and adapt to what the marketplace is asking for. It’s not unlike what big retailers are facing.  Sears and JC Penney have failed to adapt, but there are others, like Nordstrom’s, that are doing much better because they have adjusted to the market effectively.  So, in car audio…we have to look for every opportunity where people want to put audio in their moving machines: boat, motorcycle, UTV or car, and we have to offer customers a great experience and a great result. The industry is changing, for sure, and those that adapt well will be very successful.”

Photo: Cartronix



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  1. I woud respectfully submit that the US Department of Labor does not have the methodology to accurately capture our industry data. First the ambiguity of category buckets renders the data suspect immediately. Second, based on my past experiences with US Department of Labor data, our industry segment is too small to statically significant, therefore ever more fallible.

    Based on what I am experiencing first hand with the growth of the aftermarket vehicle electronics categories like safety (consumer and commercial), video telematics and GPS telematics and EDL, our industry is growing. As an industry segment, we (vehicle electronics) are changing with structural changes to entertainment categories and big growth in the new categoires of safety and connected devices. Fellow industry folks, only those willing to change will grow. If you are a retailer, expediter or fleet installer today, you have what it takes to evolve, grow and THRIVE.

  2. I can definitely see the writing on the wall. Being in the car audio retail for over 24 years, I have seen an increase in consumers not shopping in the stores to buy their gear. We have been seeing decline every year in this area. We do tint, rims/tires, lift trucks amongst other things. We have done a great job adapting but I’m not sure what the future is going to bring for us. Tax season is hardly tax season this year. We did see a bump in sales but now we have seen a few days this week looking very scary and not like typical March. Independent retailers do a great job adapting but what happens when one day everyone is suddenly ordering their gear on Amazon and watching Youtube videos to install them. I can tell you that it is happening and that is the biggest factor in our market changing. Add the fact that manufacturers are putting everything in cars and you have a perfect storm. We are doing everything we can to answer the phone correctly, vett the customers and convert but when price is everything and you cannot compete we all lose. We are seeing this trend more than ever and it is out of control.

  3. Our Next market is adding audio to big wheel’s and battery operated child cars.
    If we get the 2 and 3 year olds hooked now, we can plan our feature.
    Joking aside:
    The reason the aftermarket had the success it has over the last 35-40 years is the auto manufacturer kind of forgot about this part of the automobile.
    We taught them to take notice there is money to be made here.
    That’s just what they did, and now they are forcing us out of the car, wile they can’t stop everything, just what is it you can do to improve a lot of factory systems today that are stock? We should be proud of the fact automakers took note and changed what it was they were doing. Only one problem with this some people do not care what the sound system i a car sounds like or if it has bluetooth, navigation or GPS tracking.
    And some manufacturers insist on still putting in junk systems that fail and a big price tag to fix when it does. Case in point A friend with a Jeep Rubicon has had his 2013 stock radio give up the smoke. A stock replacement cost thousands he won’t spend and I would not either. Now as to why this stock stereo failed is beyond me, I’ve puled radios out of the dash that had change in them Kids will be kids and cd transports look like piggy banks. this is good reason not to store loose change in the cup holder in your car.
    Now if my kid put change in the cd transport I’d be real upset, and its for good reason he’s 34.

    Question is:
    Where will you be in 5 years?
    You better start figuring out how to upgrade a big wheel.
    Manville Smith works at JL Audio I honestly think his job is safe. JL’s moved into home and on water and even amusement parks. But I think a lot of the bargain basement brands that gave us a bad name will disappear. Remember Karaco?
    How many of you installed 4 way 6×9″ only one driver was wired and real? and the rest were just for looks.
    I don’t get it how did they get away with that? if you sold a car with one real wheel and 3 donuts to look like real wheels don’t you think there would be legal action taken?
    If only 2 wheels on a 4 wheel drive car put power to he road not talking about limited slip differentials. Now see I think the aftermarket did a lot to kill itself too. Auto manufacturers had no respect for what we did. It was a blame all for any problems a car had. I actually had a mechanic try and tell me a T-tap restricted the flow of electrons down a wire because it was choking the flow like a garden hose bent shut.
    I also do not think MECP test gave us that much credibility. Just like I don’t think mechanics test give them credibility. Some people are just too damn stupid to be working on cars.
    Autonomous cars will be the end of the aftermarket, and for good reason. Think about it.

  4. Locomotive Firer. Hmmmm.

    Looks like it’s time to close my shop, and open my new business, Marks Shoe Repair

  5. I think this is a typical example of how out of touch the Federal Government is and how a lack of creditable data can skew a report. Yes, we are all changing with the times daily and adjusting to consumer demand. No one does it better than the independent retailer. Until they start “beaming us up”, there will be mechanical modes of transportation. Mechanical things break and/or go obsolete. Therefore, they will need to repaired or replaced. If they polled only companies with employees whose median salaries are $31K, then that might be part of the issue. There are plenty of much higher paying jobs in this industry.

  6. rumors of my demise are unfounded, we just raised our hourly to U$125.00 per hour. take it or leave it.

  7. Smith is absolutely correct. We must adapt. I’ve started doing home audio installation and also “smart home” device installs.

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