If you love watching the Grand Prix, have a knack for fixing things and would love to travel the world, a career as an F1 racing mechanic could be exciting and fulfilling. While mechanics are not the top earners, the paid travel to work with the crew, as well as opportunities to meet and work with famous drivers and finely tuned foreign cars are all a definite bonus. Extended time out of the country could be a challenge for those with children, but good family support and planning could still make it happen.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
F1 mechanics earn about what other experienced mechanics earn, which is $39,550 annually in 2017.
F1 mechanics service Formula 1 race cars and parts, both on and off the track. They travel the world for around 180 days per year, in order to attend Grand Prix events. They are incredibly skilled mechanics who must be able to think on their toes and work quickly. Pit stops are only three seconds, and cars must often be assembled and serviced quickly after international travel, especially if the vehicles are delayed getting through customs. Teamwork and excellent communication skills are paramount, as well as the ability to work with a variety of driver personalities. Long days at the track and in the shop are common, and sometimes team financing can impact job stability.
Mechanics enter the field with a high school diploma or the equivalent. Classes in automotive repair, math, computers and electronics are a definite plus. Following high school, a mechanic needs to attend a program that ranges in length from six months to two years and offers both classroom and hands-on experience in servicing cars. Following program completion, mechanics need to pass the EPA exam, and most opt to be certified through the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. Certification requires two years of experience and an exam.
Once a mechanic has completed basic training, he or she needs specific training in servicing Formula 1 race cars. Some F1 teams and car manufacturers offer apprenticeship programs, lasting up to three years. Placement is competitive, so maintain good scores in your initial training and consider working in service positions at a racetrack while you are in school. Perform well during your apprenticeship and use your industry connections to help land your first job.
F1 mechanics earn about what other experienced mechanics earn, but the perks of paid international travel and working on exotic cars could make that salary seem bigger than it is. Automotive service technicians and mechanics earn a median salary of $39,550, which means that half of all mechanics earn more than this while the other half earn less. The top 10 percent earn more than $65,430, while the bottom 10 percent earn less than $22,610.
F1 mechanics are employed by Formula 1 race teams or auto manufacturers. They may spend some hours in a manufacturing facility, but are more likely to spend most of their time in a shop, traveling and on the track, servicing cars. Safety and hearing protection are important considerations when spending hours around loud and powerful cars, especially during races.
Years of Experience
F1 mechanics are highly trained in service and maintenance skills, and salary can vary quite a bit from one company or team to another. Experience does cause salary to increase somewhat over a lifelong career. One projection for all mechanics with maintenance skills looks like this:
- Entry Level: $20,458 to $43,834
- Mid-Career: $24,173 to $57,116
- Experienced: $26,390 to $63,496
Job Growth Trend
Demand for F1 mechanics is largely dependent on the continued success of the Grand Prix, which is currently popular, yet often loses money at the end of every year. Demand is still there for races, and teams often make money through sponsorship and advertisements, which helps with job security. You can take comfort in knowing that job opportunities for mechanics in general are expected to increase by 6 percent over the next decade, about as fast as other industries. If you get laid off from your team during the off-season, that demand coupled with your specialized training and experience should make finding work easier for you than for other mechanics.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics
- Glass Door: Don Schumacher Racing
- PayScale: Automotive Technician Salary
- A Brief History of Formula One
- Motorsport.com: Inside Story: What It's Really Like to be a F1 Mechanic
- Motorsport.com: Tales of a Former F1 Mechanic
- Mercedes AMG: Apprenticeships
- Williams F1: Apprenticeships
- Ferrari: Ferrari Apprentices
- PayScale: Automotive Service Technician / Mechanic Salary
- PayScale: Automotive Service Technician / Mechanic with Maintenance Skills Salary
- The Detroit News: Grand Prix Loses $1M Per Year, But Race is More Than Cash
- Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images