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Discussion Starter #1
Hello, I'm beginning to explore car audio as a career, and I'd like some feedback from anyone who's gone through something similar or has any insight that may be pertinent.

Here's my background:

I started dabbling in car audio a few years back in college when I did a DIY headunit and door speaker replacement on my first car. Over time, my taste for better audio led me to install more components such as amps and subs. I was content with what I had, and my interest in car audio dwindled for the time being. I made it through college with a BS in Biochemistry, with the goal of ultimately becoming a doctor. However, it's been two years already out of college and I've had time to reflect and ponder what I want to do. Even though my chances of getting into medical school were highly competitive, I have lost my drive and interest in the field. During this long break, my passion for car audio has grown immensely and you could easily catch me working on my car for 14 hours a day without a complaint. Lately, with the help of DIYMA, I've expanded into more niche areas of car audio such as custom fiberglass/body filler work, tablet integration, interior upholstery (to make my installs look somewhat neat), and SQ (DSP, TA, EQ, and other tuning parameters). My background in science and critical thinking has, I hope, helped me grasp the technical aspects of audio. So far, I have managed to install a custom fabricated SQ system through heavy trial and error which incorporates everything I've learned on DIYMA and other resources. I'm by no means a master, but it's a great feeling to see my friends, family, and Uber passengers (side job at the moment) blown away by things like a centered stereo image or instrument separation in a car. This makes me excited to bring this experience to more people. Many people say the only reason they do car audio is for the end goal of enjoying their music, but for myself, the process of planning, buying, installing, crafting, troubleshooting, and tuning is equally as fulfilling.

My dream career would be to work with a handful of skilled installers and complete fully custom audio systems that are both acoustically and visually appealing. I'd also like to innovate new ideas in car audio that can push the limitations of car audio. However, in the meantime, does anyone have any suggestions how I should get started in the car audio industry, and a possible pathway towards my "dream career"? Should I apply as an installer at Best Buy/Car Toys, or ask local car audio shops for entry level positions?

There is a high end shop in my city (Portland, OR) called Musicar Northwest, who specializes in amazing custom installs and is exactly the type of work I aspire to do. I found out about them through an interview on Mark's YouTube channel CarAudioFabrication. Would it be wise to contact shops like this for a low-level position/apprenticeship without any real experience in the industry? I'm shying away from working at big box retail shops because it would likely be the same hu/amp/sub install over and over again. I want to do something creative and unique.

I'm currently 22 years old and willing to learn just about anything about car audio/custom fabrication. I can't see myself doing anything else. I know that I may sound overly idealistic, but I'm determined to get things started immediately. So any and all warning or advice from those that are more experienced is certainly welcome.

Thank you, everyone.
 

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There are a million words to say but if it were me and I had to start from the beginning I would start at a small shop over a chain store.

The big box stores can teach you the basics of removal, install, basic wiring. I am not implying the next statement but personal experience both being a customer as well employee of a box store stereo install bay, they are not always the best at wiring, so thats a place I would not want to instill bad habits. Ive seen when I was an installer solder, heat shrink, and bundle everything nice and pretty, and seen them use crimp connects and have nightmare hiding behind the dash. Ive seen ground wires connected with a drilled hole, nicely ground to bare metal, and bolt with washer through the body then sprayed, and then Ive seen one literally just pulled a bolt up from the seat and actaully just smashed the wire between the seat rail and car, didnt even use the bolt. Again not saying bad against all of them but Ive seen both extremes.

A small mom and pop will have usually more pride, but again Ive seen rats nest installs as well. The advantage is the mom and pops will build custom enclosures, teach you how to carpet a box, some still do fiberglass, all lessons that will need to be learned to run a 5 star shop. Most of the clients will be 18 year olds looking for a couple 12's and a cheap amp, those are a dime a dozen but again if you know what you are doing a sub install can be done in less than an hour and move on.

Anywhere you can pick up knowledge, and learn right from wrong practice is all a positive.
 

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I just opened my own shop doing specifically exactly what your title states. I started pretty much the exact same way as you (through this site). Just know that if this is the path you take, there is a solid chance that you will never be rich lol. I only did it because i'm ok with that, and its the only thing i can do that wont drive me insane after doing it for a year. On top of that, the industry as a whole is very unpredictable, so im not sure if you want to put your future in that position. Looking at your location though, try contacting Tom at Musicar NW and see if they have an entry level position open. You might have to work for free for a while, sort of as an apprentice. Thats just how it works and is what i did at a similar shop here in NY at your age (now 26 as of today :beerchug: ). I dont recommend trying to go for a basic shop or chain store. You wont really learn much of value unless you like doing remote starts and deck and 4's. If i had to pick any store to apprentice at, Musicar NW would probably be the one. Give it a shot
 

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Why not interview at that sort of shop and maybe also pursue the Dr work at the same time?

There could also be pseudo medical work that crosses the two in research.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I just opened my own shop doing specifically exactly what your title states. I started pretty much the exact same way as you (through this site). Just know that if this is the path you take, there is a solid chance that you will never be rich lol. I only did it because i'm ok with that, and its the only thing i can do that wont drive me insane after doing it for a year. On top of that, the industry as a whole is very unpredictable, so im not sure if you want to put your future in that position. Looking at your location though, try contacting Tom at Musicar NW and see if they have an entry level position open. You might have to work for free for a while, sort of as an apprentice. Thats just how it works and is what i did at a similar shop here in NY at your age (now 26 as of today :beerchug: ). I dont recommend trying to go for a basic shop or chain store. You wont really learn much of value unless you like doing remote starts and deck and 4's. If i had to pick any store to apprentice at, Musicar NW would probably be the one. Give it a shot
First off, Happy Birthday! I've seen you all over DIYMA helping people out and I have personally learned a lot from your contributions. Your tuning video with REW is actually my first exposure to tuning, and I had great results from it, so I'm grateful for that. As long as I can make a decent living I'll be content (I would spend a large part of my income on car audio regardless of what job I have LOL). I'll definitely give MusicarNW a shot. It's inspiring to see that you just opened a new shop also. Best regards!

Matt.
 

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First off, Happy Birthday! I've seen you all over DIYMA helping people out and I have personally learned a lot from your contributions. Your tuning video with REW is actually my first exposure to tuning, and I had great results from it, so I'm grateful for that. As long as I can make a decent living I'll be content (I would spend a large part of my income on car audio regardless of what job I have LOL). I'll definitely give MusicarNW a shot. It's inspiring to see that you just opened a new shop also. Best regards!

Matt.
Go in and say "hey, i have a passion, I'm willing to learn and absorb information like a damn sea sponge". Dont get your hopes up, but it doesnt hurt to try

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The car audio industry is dying. Major distributors are backing out. In 15 years, it will go by the wayside like Blockbuster video and telephone operators. Today's average installer does very little custom work. They are stuck working 6 days a week installing radios, dash kits, a step above OEM quality speakers, remote starts, and backup cameras. The average income is roughly $15 per hour. Do you like working in $5-$10k cars? Enjoy vacuuming years old filth from under seats, scraping knuckles and contorting yourself in a crusty old trunk?
 

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I just opened my own shop doing specifically exactly what your title states. I started pretty much the exact same way as you (through this site). Just know that if this is the path you take, there is a solid chance that you will never be rich lol. I only did it because i'm ok with that, and its the only thing i can do that wont drive me insane after doing it for a year. On top of that, the industry as a whole is very unpredictable, so im not sure if you want to put your future in that position. Looking at your location though, try contacting Tom at Musicar NW and see if they have an entry level position open. You might have to work for free for a while, sort of as an apprentice. Thats just how it works and is what i did at a similar shop here in NY at your age (now 26 as of today :beerchug: ). I dont recommend trying to go for a basic shop or chain store. You wont really learn much of value unless you like doing remote starts and deck and 4's. If i had to pick any store to apprentice at, Musicar NW would probably be the one. Give it a shot

Imho, a wise career choice is not (should not be) about getting rich. There is sooooo much more joy to be had in doing something that you love for a living, even if it isn't extremely lucrative.
Too many people put money as at their top goal, and spend their lives utterly miserable...
Of course money is a necessity, but a life focused primarily on the pursuit of it, can be an incredibly joy-less existence.

I applaud your career/business choice! :D
 

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My suggestion is not to work at any small time ho hum/below average shop.
These places have not learned to do it better/closer to correct and some of their wrongs will rub off on you.

I understand the you have to start somewhere and a lot of basics could be useful but those same basics can be learned on youtube or here on diyma rather than a not famous place which may only take on an apprentice with experience.

Mastery is up to you and how far you want to push your own internal volume knob of self motivation, pursue goals every day or week. My philosophy is everyone does it their own way and there still is not a Right way to to things but there are better ways and it takes years to achieve it, do it proper show your precision workmanship. And possibly by then you will be half as good as Skizer [LOL].

Car audio Fabrication, Car audio Installing, Car audio Tuning, Self Marketing is an art form and the best kind of advertisement is to show your work
online.

You will know the material when you can teach it to someone else, and hopefully not teach regurgitated lies. I would assume in America there are less shops than I have fingers where its worth throwing my car into. I live by two of these shops and still did not choose them to get it done right. Even the greatest shops in the world greatest installers and greatest tuners are still learning. They never stop.

Goodluck and god speed.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Great advice guys! I think I have a handle on the basics (or else my personal system wouldn't run properly lol). Nevertheless, I know there's so much more to learn from an actual car audio environment. We'll see where things go.
 

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Imho, a wise career choice is not (should not be) about getting rich. There is sooooo much more joy to be had in doing something that you love for a living, even if it isn't extremely lucrative.

Too many people put money as at their top goal, and spend their lives utterly miserable...

Of course money is a necessity, but a life focused primarily on the pursuit of it, can be an incredibly joy-less existence.



I applaud your career/business choice!



Depends if your a single guy or a family guy...
 

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Exactly what I was getting at.

Sent from my SM-G950U1 using Tapatalk


Yeah life is expensive - if you have a talent and the gift of the gab and willing to diversify it’s possible to make good money out of audio

I know a guy here - sells Dynaudio home gear but sells everything from cellphones to TVs to $100k speakers - makes cash not because he moves his speakers but because he knows how to sell - he is the biggest independent Samsung dealer in the country and works from his house - 3 garages filled with Dynaudio speakers to Samsung products

Rent is nothing and has 4 people working for him...

That’s how you make money... and still do what you love...


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Hell, I would look into studying up for the MECP program, while not very cheap, you can self study through books and if you feel ready to take the exam, go for it. Worst thing you can do is fail. At least you tried. If you can get that certification, you are much more marketable to retail shops than just coming off the street and claiming you can install. You have a bachelor's, that helps, shows that you are willing to learn, but that MECP can also earn you some kudo's to a hiring agent.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Hell, I would look into studying up for the MECP program, while not very cheap, you can self study through books and if you feel ready to take the exam, go for it. Worst thing you can do is fail. At least you tried. If you can get that certification, you are much more marketable to retail shops than just coming off the street and claiming you can install. You have a bachelor's, that helps, shows that you are willing to learn, but that MECP can also earn you some kudo's to a hiring agent.
I'll look into it. Thanks.
 

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OP, please don't limit the scope of what you want your future to be, to car audio installs only. Think broader. Learn about marine sound and home audio as well. Address what most consider niche markets by offering services that no one else does.

Locally, one of my town's best known car audio shop actually does more installs on houseboats and pleasure craft than in vehicles with wheels. These aren't just a headunit, 6x9's and a small sub either. These are complicated, high dollar systems that anyone would be proud to own.

You may also need to do basic, boring stuff to pay the bills. Window tinting, remote starters and even the occasional alarm. Not glamorous but, might keep the wolves away.

Good luck and don't let anyone put you off chasing your dream!
 

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Short answer: Yeah I wouldn't.
That being said, there is no rule where you HAVE to decide what you're going to do the rest of your life now. Go work it for 1-2 years. If you still have the same passion, do it if not move on. I can tell you're not looking to "get rich", but you're young and as you get older you start realizing the NEED of making a decent income.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
OP, please don't limit the scope of what you want your future to be, to car audio installs only. Think broader. Learn about marine sound and home audio as well. Address what most consider niche markets by offering services that no one else does.

Locally, one of my town's best known car audio shop actually does more installs on houseboats and pleasure craft than in vehicles with wheels. These aren't just a headunit, 6x9's and a small sub either. These are complicated, high dollar systems that anyone would be proud to own.

You may also need to do basic, boring stuff to pay the bills. Window tinting, remote starters and even the occasional alarm. Not glamorous but, might keep the wolves away.

Good luck and don't let anyone put you off chasing your dream!
That's a great point. I'm considering skills like tinting, vinyl wrapping, interior upholstery (leather seats etc) as well. That's why I specified 'custom' in the thread title since I want to eventually grow into other service areas.
 

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That's a great point. I'm considering skills like tinting, vinyl wrapping, interior upholstery (leather seats etc) as well. That's why I specified 'custom' in the thread title since I want to eventually grow into other service areas.
Hydro-dipping, powder coating and anodizing are worthy of consideration as well. Anything that sets yourself apart from the rest of the field. Again, good luck!
 
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