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Career profile Automotive Detailer

Also known as Aircraft Cleaner, Auto Detailer, Automobile Detailer, Automotive Detailer, Car Detailer, Car Washer, Detailer, Reconditioner, Sanitation Truck Cleaner

Automotive Detailer

Also known as Aircraft Cleaner, Auto Detailer, Automobile Detailer

Interests Profile
  • Realistic
  • Conventional
  • Enterprising
Pay Range
$19,810 - $40,610 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Operation and Control
  • Quality Control Analysis
  • Operations Monitoring
Knowledge Areas
  • Customer and Personal Service
  • Transportation
  • Administration and Management
Core tasks
  • Clean and polish vehicle windows.
  • Scrub, scrape, or spray machine parts, equipment, or vehicles, using scrapers, brushes, clothes, cleaners, disinfectants, insecticides, acid, abrasives, vacuums, or hoses.
  • Apply paints, dyes, polishes, reconditioners, waxes, or masking materials to vehicles to preserve, protect, or restore color or condition.
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What does an Automotive Detailer do?

Automotive Detailers wash or otherwise clean vehicles, machinery, and other equipment.

In addition, Automotive Detailers use such materials as water, cleaning agents, brushes, cloths, and hoses.

What kind of tasks does an Automotive Detailer perform regularly?

Automotive Detailers are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Clean and polish vehicle windows.
  • Scrub, scrape, or spray machine parts, equipment, or vehicles, using scrapers, brushes, clothes, cleaners, disinfectants, insecticides, acid, abrasives, vacuums, or hoses.
  • Apply paints, dyes, polishes, reconditioners, waxes, or masking materials to vehicles to preserve, protect, or restore color or condition.
  • Inspect parts, equipment, or vehicles for cleanliness, damage, and compliance with standards or regulations.
  • Maintain inventories of supplies.
  • Press buttons to activate cleaning equipment or machines.
  • Mix cleaning solutions, abrasive compositions, or other compounds, according to formulas.
  • Turn valves or handles on equipment to regulate pressure or flow of water, air, steam, or abrasives from sprayer nozzles.
  • Monitor operation of cleaning machines and stop machines or notify supervisors when malfunctions occur.
  • Rinse objects and place them on drying racks or use cloth, squeegees, or air compressors to dry surfaces.
  • Turn valves or disconnect hoses to eliminate water, cleaning solutions, or vapors from machinery or tanks.
  • Sweep, shovel, or vacuum loose debris or salvageable scrap into containers and remove containers from work areas.
  • Disassemble and reassemble machines or equipment or remove and reattach vehicle parts or trim, using hand tools.

The above responsibilities are specific to Automotive Detailers. More generally, Automotive Detailers are involved in several broader types of activities:

Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Performing General Physical Activities
Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling materials.
Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment
Running, maneuvering, navigating, or driving vehicles or mechanized equipment, such as forklifts, passenger vehicles, aircraft, or watercraft.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Materials
Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.

What is an Automotive Detailer salary?

The median salary for an Automotive Detailer is $27,640, and the average salary is $29,400. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Automotive Detailer salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Automotive Detailers earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Automotive Detailers earn less than $19,810 per year, 25% earn less than $23,380, 75% earn less than $32,660, and 90% earn less than $40,610.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Automotive Detailers is expected to change by 8.8%, and there should be roughly 56,100 open positions for Automotive Detailers every year.

Median annual salary
Typical salary range
$19,810 - $40,610
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)

What personality traits are common among Automotive Detailers?


Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as an Automotive Detailer are usually higher in their Realistic interests.

Automotive Detailers typically have very strong Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.


People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as an Automotive Detailer tend to value Relationships, Support, and Independence.

Most importantly, Automotive Detailers moderately value Relationships. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Second, Automotive Detailers moderately value Support. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees.

Lastly, Automotive Detailers somewhat value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Automotive Detailers must consistently demonstrate qualities such as attention to detail, dependability, and independence.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Automotive Detailers, ranked by importance:

Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
Job requires being honest and ethical.
Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.

What education and training do Automotive Detailers need?

Working as an Automotive Detailer usually requires a high school diploma.

Automotive Detailers need anywhere from a few months to one year of working with experienced employees. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with this occupation.

Educational degrees among Automotive Detailers

  • 29.2% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 43.2% completed high school or secondary school
  • 16.7% completed some college coursework
  • 5.1% earned a Associate's degree
  • 4.8% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 0.8% earned a Master's degree
  • 0.2% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Automotive Detailers

Automotive Detailers may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as customer and personal service, transportation, or administration and management knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Automotive Detailers might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Customer and Personal Service
Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Knowledge of principles and methods for moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road, including the relative costs and benefits.
Administration and Management
Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
Public Safety and Security
Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
Education and Training
Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.

Important Abilities needed by Automotive Detailers

Automotive Detailers must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Automotive Detailers need abilities such as near vision, multilimb coordination, and manual dexterity in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Automotive Detailers, ranked by their relative importance.

Near Vision
The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
Multilimb Coordination
The ability to coordinate two or more limbs (for example, two arms, two legs, or one leg and one arm) while sitting, standing, or lying down. It does not involve performing the activities while the whole body is in motion.
Manual Dexterity
The ability to quickly move your hand, your hand together with your arm, or your two hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.
Problem Sensitivity
The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
Deductive Reasoning
The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.

Critical Skills needed by Automotive Detailers

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Automotive Detailers frequently use skills like operation and control, quality control analysis, and operations monitoring to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Automotive Detailers, ranked by their relative importance.

Operation and Control
Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
Quality Control Analysis
Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.
Operations Monitoring
Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
Time Management
Managing one's own time and the time of others.
Talking to others to convey information effectively.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

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