Are you thinking of a new career as a Tesla technician? Completely understandable. Working for Tesla would be a dream come true for many of those who are entering the field.
But, how do you become a Tesla technician? Tesla has a program decided to train their new technicians. The requirements to become a technician at Tesla are as follows:
- A high school diploma or a GED
- Be at least 18 years old.
- Attend Tesla’s training and pass the exam at the end with a minimum of an 85% score.
- A valid driver’s license for at least two years before working for Tesla and a clean driving record.
- A willingness to relocate to one of the Tesla service locations.
- The ability to lift 50 or 60 pounds.
- Be willing to commit to working for Tesla for at least 2 years.
You will need a high school diploma, or equivalent, to work at Tesla, but you can work at Tesla if you don’t have a college degree. Some of the more technical jobs at Tesla will require a degree, but it is possible to work as a technician without a degree.
Read on for a guide on how to become a Tesla technician and how to gain employment at Tesla!
Tesla START Program for New Technicians
The program to apply for if you want to be a technician is called the Tesla START program, which stands for Student Automotive Technician Program.
Tesla advertises its START program as “an intensive training program designed to provide students across North America with the skills necessary for a successful career with Tesla. During the program, students will develop technical expertise and earn certifications through a blended approach of in-class theory, hands-on labs, and self-paced learning.”
What’s interesting is this program is actually offered by colleges across the country that are partnered with Tesla. While you are enrolled in the program, Tesla does pay you a small stipend. It’s not as much as the full salary you will earn when you’re a full-time employee, but they pay you a little more than minimum wage while in the training program, so you can make ends meet as you get your career started.
What Colleges off Tesla’s START Program?
Here’s a list of schools in North America that offer the Tesla START program as a course of study, as well as links to their webpages explaining each of their individual programs:
- Rio Hondo College – Los Angeles, California
- Central Piedmont Community College – Charlotte, North Carolina
- Shoreline Community College – Seattle, Washington
- Suffolk County Community College – Selden, New York
- Evergreen Valley College – San Jose, California
- Miami Dade College – Miami, Florida
They are all considered equal. So, there’s no reason to pick one program over the other. It would make the most sense to pick the one that makes the most sense based on where you live. Since you probably will have to relocate for the job after you graduate from the program, it makes sense to stay close to home for school instead of having to relocate twice in a 13 week time period.
With so many geographically dispersed options for your studies, you shouldn’t have to move far from home to enroll in the Tesla START program! Take a look at each college’s website above, and they’ll further explain the requirements to complete the program. You can also apply to the program directly on the websites.
More Details on the START Program for new Technicians
Here are some frequently asked questions regarding the Tesla START program for new technicians:
- How long will you be in school at the Tesla START program? “Tesla School” will take you 12 weeks to complete from beginning to end. You’ll need to be committed, as it will be a full 40 hour week, and it won’t leave time for you to have a part time job or other school commitments.
- How much does it cost to enroll in the Tesla START program? There is actually no cost to participate in this program! Actually, Tesla will pay you to go to their school! You will earn $9.46 per hour while you are in school for the 12 weeks. You will end up receiving this payment as a stipend. While that hourly rate might seem a bit low, remember, they are paying you to attend school and not the other way around! And, they are committing to your future and promising to employee you full time upon graduation.
- What will you be doing while you’re enrolled? While you are enrolled, you will be learning about all Tesla products. You’ll do this by ensuring you meet a 100% attendance requirement (no sick days) and participating in a variety of team-based activities both in a lab environment and in classroom lectures.
There will be weekly curriculum objectives that you’ll need to meet to be successful, and you will be required to pass a written automotive exam. This exam is not specific to Tesla vehicles, so if you have other automotive industry experience, this would be helpful to you in your studies. However, you’ll be able to succeed without prior experience. You might just have to study a little more!
- What is the application process to get enrolled in the Tesla START program? What is the acceptance rate? All of the colleges that offer the Tesla START program, also offer other degree programs. However, you do not have to already be a student at these schools to enroll in the Tesla program. If you meet the minimum requirements mentioned above (18 years old, high school diploma, etc.), you are eligible to apply at any of the schools. However, that does not guarantee admission, and there is no waiting list.
- Where will you work after you complete the program? Tesla has 58 different service stations in 18 different states. You must be able and willing to relocate to any of them, as Tesla will decide where you work upon graduation of the START program. Tesla will pay your relocation expenses.
Tesla had been primarily employing technicians who had automotive experience at other car manufacturers. With the creation of the START program, they are committed now to educating people who might have little to no prior experience. This program is a great way to get your foot in the door as a technician!
Videos on the Tesla START Program for Technicians
There’s a lot you can research on your own before even beginning a career at Tesla or enrolling in the START program. If you’re more of a visual learner than a reader, you can get a head start on your peers by checking out YouTube. YouTube has a lot of great videos about the START program for technicians and about the interview process in general at Tesla:
- Tesla START Program – This video is taken from a news broadcast in Charlotte, where they look at a local Charlotte individual who decided to take advantage of the START program at her local community college. It gives great insight into the program offered at the college in Charlotte, North Carolina.
- Tesla START Automotive Technician Program – This video was produced by Tesla, and offers their introduction into their new START program. It’s great insight into what Tesla expects from you as a new student in their program.
- The Tesla Job Interview – This video offers insight into the culture at Tesla and their hiring process for all different types of jobs at their company. A must-watch for anybody considering a career at Tesla, whether it be as a technician or as an electrical engineer or anything in between.
- Getting Hired By and Working at Tesla – This video is an interview with a current Tesla employee, who gives great feedback on what it’s like to work at Tesla.
- Day at Work: Electric Vehicle Technician – This video offers a great look into what your life will be like as a technician, and explains what you’ll be doing on a daily basis in your new career. If you’re looking to be a technician at Tesla, this is must-see TV!
All of those videos will give you great insight into what it’s like to apply and interview with Tesla, and are a good resource for you before you get too far along in your pursuit of a career with Tesla.
The START Program for Tesla Technicians is still New
The START program for Tesla technicians has not been around all that long. Suffolk Community College just recently graduated their first class of technicians.
There are a couple of articles online that would be worth reading.
- According to Newsday, Suffolk County Community College recently graduated its first class of students from the START program. Citing an appreciation of Tesla’s mission, one of the students was very excited to “jump on board” this new program with Tesla! The president of the college is behind the program as well, “The great part to us is it’s an emerging technology!”
- Electrical Construction & Maintenance reminds us that the program at Miami Dade College is also still new and that while the college is running the program, Tesla provided all the input into the program. “Tesla has provided the training equipment, vehicles, tools, and curriculum for the program, and to date (December 2019), more than 200 students nationwide have graduated from the Tesla START program.”
- CBT News gives some great information on why Tesla has decided to create this program specifically designed to train technicians. Tesla recognized that mechanics and technicians for electric vehicles need to be trained differently than mechanics that need to learn how to work under the hood of a car dealing with grease and grime. “What differentiates Tesla’s program is that the company is coming into existing main-stream institutions of higher learning, and providing the specific training their employees need, helping them seamlessly transition from school to work.”
While these programs are still new, they offer great programs to launch your career as a technician at Tesla!
Do You Need a College Degree to be a Tesla Technician?
The only degree you need to get started as a Tesla technician is a high school diploma or its equivalent (GED). With a high school diploma, you will be able to enroll in one of Tesla’s START programs available at 8 colleges throughout the United States.
In fact, a college degree would not help you get a job as a Tesla technician since the START program is open to anyone with a high school diploma.
After graduating from the START program, you’ll be able to start employment as a Tesla Technician, and the only education you need is the one provided to you in the Tesla START program!
What Jobs at Tesla Do Require a College Degree?
While you can work at Tesla as a technician without a college degree, many of the jobs at Tesla do require you to have a college degree.
They also have a program designed for university students. While you don’t need to have completed your degree in this case, you do need to be in college and interested in working for them as a co-op or an intern. The idea behind the intern program is that eventually, you would work at Tesla after you completed your degree.
Some of the career fields at Tesla that require college degrees (or an internship) are:
- Engineers – If you’re interested in being an engineer at Tesla, you’d want to pursue some Engineering Bachelor’s degrees. Tesla employs different types of engineers, but a focus on either Mechanical or Electrical Engineering degrees would be the most likely type of engineering degree to open some doors for you at Tesla.
- IT – To work in IT at Tesla, focus on Software Engineering or Computer Science degrees in school. You’ll want to consider getting a Master’s degree in addition to a Bachelor’s degree, as that would help set you apart from your peers.
- Human Resources – Many colleges offer Bachelor’s degrees in Human Resources. A degree in this field would open up opportunities for you at more companies than just Tesla. Most major companies have Human Resources departments.
- Legal – Any big company like Tesla has a Legal Department. You’ll need more than just a Bachelor’s degree for this as you’ll need to go to law school and earn a Juris Doctorate. You should consider focusing on Patent law to help protect Tesla’s patents.
- Supply Chain – Look into earning a Bachelor’s degree in Logistics or Supply Chain Management. Like Human Resources, this degree is versatile, and all major manufacturing companies have Supply Chain departments.
If you’re seeking employment at Tesla, you have many different options. Some, like technicians, do not require a college degree. Others, like engineers, do require you to have a degree or start as an intern while you are still in college preparing to earn your degree.
What Salary do You Earn as a Technician at Tesla?
According to Glassdoor, Tesla technicians earn an average of $58,000 per year. That’s not a bad salary for a high school graduate.
For some perspective, I started in my first full-time job after graduating college, and was paid $28,000 per year. It wasn’t all that long ago, so it’s not a case where inflation would make that number better! If you’re an 18 year old high school grad, working as a technician at Tesla is a fantastic way for you to earn a solid salary right out of high school.
Compare this to the salary of your average automotive technician at companies that aren’t Tesla. Indeed has that average salary at $19.63 an hour, which comes out to about $40,000 a year. If you’re in the automotive industry, it would behoove you to look into working at Tesla.
What Benefits Does Tesla Offer its Employees?
In addition to a great starting salary, what other benefits does Tesla offer to its employees? No, you do not get a free Tesla if you work at Tesla, so what do you get?
According to Future Fuel, Tesla has a great benefits package. Here is a summary of what they offer, and you can reference the article for more information on what’s offered in each of these categories:
- Health Insurance
- Dental Insurance
- Vision Coverage
- Retirement Savings Plan
- Employee Stock Purchase Plan
- Equity Incentive Plan
- Long Term Disability
- Short Term Disability
- Life Insurance
- Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance
- Employee Discount
- Business Travel Insurance
- Employee Assistance Program
One benefit that Tesla does not offer that a lot of other companies do offer is a 401K match. While they do offer a 401K, there just is no company match. So, while at some places you might earn a company match of 50% up to 8% of your salary, as of 2018, Tesla does not offer a 401K match. I would not be surprised to see this changed and improved in the future.
Aside from that, it’s a pretty great benefits package! A career as a Tesla technician can be very profitable, both financially and when you take the benefits into consideration.
Tesla Employee Satisfaction
Before you get a job at any company, it would be helpful to know – are the current employees happy or disgruntled?
One of the most common themes in feedback from employees is that there are a lot of long hours required of you at Tesla. There has been a general trend downward in employee satisfaction due to a string of lay-offs.
However, the employees that stay there and are still employed, generally seem to be quite satisfied with working at Tesla, despite the long hours. They cite the innovation and mission of Tesla as key contributing factors to their job happiness.
The Future of Employment at Tesla as a Technician
Tesla is positioning itself to be in great shape as the years go by. Let’s look at the future of Tesla and how they have been affected by lay-offs in the past to make sure you’re setting yourself up for a successful career.
Future of Tesla
Tesla is so in demand that they cannot keep up with production. You cannot order a Tesla car and go pick it up in one day. In most cases, there is such a high demand for their vehicles that there can be an extensive waitlist until your car is ready. Not only that, but they recently unveiled plans for a new Tesla truck. Tesla is not going anywhere! As a technician at Tesla, you could be working on many different vehicles throughout your career.
Tesla is a cutting edge company. There’s no doubt in mind that they will continue to release new and improved models. Working as technician at Tesla will be exciting, and you’ll always be exposed to the latest and greatest in car manufacturing! You’ll have the opportunity to work on cars that the general public is interested in, like the sought-after Model 3, as well as get in on cutting edge technology and develop new vehicles like the new Tesla truck.
As more companies begin to offer electric vehicles like the electric Mustang Ford has announced, the skills you develop as a Tesla technician will be very marketable to other companies in the future, should you decided to leave Tesla.
Lay-Offs at Tesla
According to Vice in 2018, Tesla did lay off 9% of its workforce, and there are no promises that it won’t happen again. It wasn’t about profit, but it was about reducing redundant jobs that weren’t needed anymore.
What do those layoffs mean for your future career? The good news, even if you did get laid off, having the Tesla brand on your resume will help you secure a new job. And, since they just laid off a bunch of people, they probably won’t need to lay off a bunch more anytime soon. The bad news is, they did lay off 9% of their workforce, and probably wouldn’t hesitate to do so again if they determined it was needed.
Every job has employment risks. Tesla is a great company to be a part of. They are the future of the automotive industry. As an automotive technician, you have a great chance of having a long, successful career at Tesla as they continue to ramp up production. Sure, there is some risk, but every company has risk. Tesla’s innovative technology sets them up to be successful for a long time, perhaps more successful than other car companies that have not yet branched into the electric car sector.
How to Prepare for your Interview at Tesla
Just how hard is it to get a job at Tesla? In 2017, they received around 500,000 applications for about 2,000 open jobs, according to Kick Resume.
The good news is, while most companies use automated resume screening (a computer scans your resume for keywords), at Tesla, all applications are reviewed by a human. So, if you’ve got a great resume, you’ve got a chance at being considered for employment.
You landed an interview – congratulations! What now? What’s the best way to prepare for interviewing at Tesla and ensuring you get yourself the job?
Here are a few recommendations for you to get in the door at Tesla:
- Know the company’s mission. Be prepared to answer the question: “Why do you want to work at Tesla?” Relate how your personal beliefs align with the goals of the company.
- It’s a very fast-paced at Tesla. You need to be prepared to work in a pressure-cooker type environment. How do you think on your feet? Prepare to give examples to the interviewing committee about how you can work and meet tight deadlines.
- When you’re answering questions in your interview, remember the STAR format. Situation, Task, Action, Result. Give examples in this format. What was the situation or problem, what was the task needed, what action did you take, and what was the result of your action? The STAR format is used by many big companies, and honing this interview skill would benefit your career no matter where you end up interviewing and seeking employment.
While it can be hard to get in the door at Tesla, they do read every resume, and if you’re qualified, you’ve got a chance!
Becoming a Tesla Technician
Tesla has a great program available for people interested in becoming Tesla technicians. Apply at one of six colleges in North America that Tesla has partnered with in their START program. Not only is it open to anyone with a high school diploma, but they’ll also pay you while you’re in school!
You’ll learn all the skills needed to become a technician, and after you complete the 12 week program, you’ll be ready to start your job at an exciting company!
The good news is, to become a technician at Tesla, you don’t need a college degree. However, if you’re interested in other employment opportunities at Tesla in fields like engineering, many of those careers do require degrees. There’s a lot of information available to learn how to set yourself above your peers and position yourself to be selected to work at Tesla!