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Auto Detailer: Job & Career Info

Learn about a career as an auto detailer. Read the job description, duties, education requirements, salary and employment outlook to decide if this is the right career for you.

Career Definition for an Auto Detailer

Auto detailers, also called vehicle cleaners, scrub and polish automobiles using a variety of cleaning tools. They apply cleaners and abrasive solutions, wash and polish windows, rinse objects from car interiors and dry entire vehicles. The work is often noisy and performed in enclosed spaces that involve exposure to contaminants. Work may include cleaning private vehicles, as well as storage tanks, pipelines and related machinery. Employment is most often found at dealerships, car washes and car rental agencies.

Education High school diploma or GED helpful but not necessary
Job Skills Good close-range vision, customer service skills, manual dexterity, physical endurance
Median Salary (2017)* $23,360 for cleaners of vehicles and equipment
Job Growth (2016-2026)* 11% for cleaners of vehicles and equipment

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Educational Requirements

Entry-level employees, according to O*Net Online, may need a GED or high school diploma, although as many as 34% of workers in the field had less than a high school diploma as of 2016. The job may be learned in as little as a few days under the supervision of more experienced workers. Professional organizations, such as Power Washers of North America (PWNA), offer advanced training in cleaning, washing, restoring and environmental practices. No formal education programs are offered for auto detailing, although many are available for auto body repair.

Required Skills

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the traits required for an auto detailing career included:

  • Customer service, communication and listening skills
  • Ability to see clearly at a close range
  • Coordination and manual dexterity
  • Physical endurance, since it takes strength and endurance to detail cars on a full-time basis

Employment and Salary Outlook

According to the BLS, the median annual wage for cleaners of vehicles and other equipment was $23,360 in 2017. The BLS also reported that this field was expected to grow faster than the average at a rate of 11% from 2016-2026.


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