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Working As an Automotive Mechanic

  • Getting Information
  • Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Repairing and Maintaining Mechanical Equipment
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Outdoors/walking/standing

  • Make Decisions

  • $43,000

    Average Salary

What Does An Automotive Mechanic Do

Automotive service technicians and mechanics, often called service technicians or service techs, inspect, maintain, and repair cars and light trucks.

Duties

Automotive service technicians and mechanics typically do the following:

  • Identify problems, often by using computerized diagnostic equipment
  • Plan work procedures, using charts, technical manuals, and experience
  • Test parts and systems to ensure that they work properly
  • Follow checklists to ensure that all critical parts are examined
  • Perform basic care and maintenance, including changing oil, checking fluid levels, and rotating tires
  • Repair or replace worn parts, such as brake pads, wheel bearings, and sensors
  • Perform repairs to manufacturer and customer specifications
  • Explain automotive problems and repairs to clients

Although service technicians work on traditional mechanical systems, such as engines, transmissions, and drivebelts, they must also be familiar with a growing number of electronic systems. Braking, transmission, and steering systems, for example, are controlled primarily by computers and electronic components.

Other integrated electronic systems, such as accident-avoidance sensors, are becoming common as well. In addition, a growing number of technicians are required to work on vehicles that consume alternative fuels, such as ethanol and electricity.

Service technicians use many different tools, including computerized diagnostic tools and power tools such as pneumatic wrenches, lathes, welding torches, and jacks and hoists. These tools usually are owned by their employers.

Service technicians also use many common hand tools, such as wrenches, pliers, and sockets and ratchets. Service technicians generally own these tools themselves. In fact, experienced workers often have thousands of dollars invested in their personal tool collection. For example, some invest in their own set of pneumatic tools—such as impact wrenches—powered by compressed air.

The following are examples of types of service technicians:

Automotive air-conditioning technicians install and repair air-conditioners and parts, such as compressors, condensers, and controls. These workers must be trained and certified in handling refrigerants.

Brake technicians diagnose brake system problems, adjust brakes, replace brake rotors and pads, and make other repairs on brake systems. Some technicians specialize in both brake and front-end work. (See “Front-end technicians.”) 

Drivability technicians, also known as diagnostic technicians, use their extensive knowledge of engine management and fuel, electrical, ignition, and emissions systems to diagnose issues that prevent engines from performing efficiently. They often use the onboard diagnostic system of a car and electronic testing equipment such as scan tools and multimeters to find the malfunction.

Front-end technicians diagnose ride, handling, and tire wear problems. To correct these problems, they frequently use special alignment equipment and wheel-balancing machines.

Transmission technicians and rebuilders work on gear trains, couplings, hydraulic pumps, and other parts of transmissions. An extensive knowledge of computer controls and the ability to diagnose electrical and hydraulic problems are needed to work on these complex components.

For information about technicians who work on large trucks and buses, see the profile on diesel service technicians and mechanics.

For information about technicians who work on farm equipment, construction vehicles, and railcars, see the profile on heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians.

For information about technicians who repair and service motorcycles, motorboats, and small all-terrain vehicles, see the profile on small engine mechanics.

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How To Become An Automotive Mechanic

Employers prefer that automotive service technicians and mechanics complete a formal training program at a postsecondary institution. Industry certification is usually required once the person is employed.

Education

High school courses in automotive repair, electronics, computers, and mathematics provide a good background for prospective service technicians. However, high school graduates typically need further training to become fully qualified.

Completing a vocational or other postsecondary education program in automotive service technology is considered the best preparation for entry-level positions. Programs usually last 6 months to a year and provide intensive career preparation through classroom instruction and hands-on practice. Short-term certificate programs in a particular subject, such as brake maintenance or engine performance, are also available.

Some service technicians get an associate’s degree. Courses usually include mathematics, electronics, and automotive repair. Some programs add classes in customer service and other necessary skills.

Various automobile manufacturers and dealers sponsor associate’s degree programs. Students in these programs typically spend alternating periods attending classes full time and working full time in service shops under the guidance of an experienced technician.

Training

Service technicians who have graduated from postsecondary programs in automotive service technology generally require little on-the-job training.

Those who have not completed postsecondary education, however, generally start as trainee technicians, technicians’ helpers, or lubrication workers. They gradually acquire more knowledge and experience by working with experienced mechanics and technicians.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires all technicians who buy or work with refrigerants to be certified in proper refrigerant handling. No formal test preparation is required, but many trade schools, unions, and employer associations offer training programs designed for the EPA exam.

Certification from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) is the standard credential for service technicians. Certification demonstrates competence and usually brings higher pay. Many employers require their service technicians to become certified.

ASE certification is available in nine different automobile specialty areas: automatic transmission/transaxle, brakes, light vehicle diesel engines, electrical/electronic systems, engine performance, engine repair, heating and air-conditioning, manual drive train and axles, and suspension and steering.

To become certified, technicians must have at least 2 years of experience (or relevant schooling and 1 year of experience) and pass an exam. Technicians who achieve certification in all of the foregoing areas (light vehicle diesel engine certification is not required) may earn ASE Master Technician status.

Important Qualities

Customer-service skills. Service technicians must discuss automotive problems—along with options to fix them—with their customers. Because workers may depend on repeat clients for business, they must be courteous, good listeners, and ready to answer customers’ questions.

Detail oriented. Service technicians must be aware of small details when inspecting or repairing vehicle systems, because mechanical and electronic malfunctions are often due to misalignments or other easy-to-miss causes.

Dexterity. Service technicians perform many tasks that require steady hands and good hand-eye coordination, such as assembling or attaching components and subassemblies.

Mechanical skills. Service technicians must be familiar with engine components and systems and know how they interact with each other. They often must take apart major parts for repairs and be able to put them back together properly.

Organizational skills. Service technicians must keep workspaces clean and organized in order to maintain safety and ensure accountability of parts.

Physical strength. Service technicians must sometimes lift and maneuver heavy parts such as engines and body panels.

Troubleshooting skills. Service technicians must be able to use diagnostic equipment on engine systems and components in order to identify and fix problems in increasingly complicated mechanical and electronic systems. They must be familiar with electronic control systems and the appropriate tools needed to fix and maintain them.

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Automotive Mechanic Career Paths

Automotive Mechanic
Automotive Technician Technician Electrician
Maintenance Supervisor
7 Yearsyrs
Automotive Technician Technician Maintenance Supervisor
Maintenance Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Automotive Technician Technician Foreman
General Contractor
5 Yearsyrs
Mechanic Service Technician Computer Technician
Senior Service Technician
6 Yearsyrs
Mechanic Foreman Estimator
Body Shop Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Mechanic Aircraft Mechanic
Lead Mechanic
6 Yearsyrs
Maintenance Technician Specialist Operation Supervisor
Fleet Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Maintenance Technician Field Service Technician
Technical Services Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Maintenance Technician Electrician
Maintenance Lead Technician
7 Yearsyrs
Diesel Mechanic Driver Electrician
Maintenance Technician Supervisor
5 Yearsyrs
Diesel Mechanic Shop Foreman
Senior Mechanic
6 Yearsyrs
Diesel Mechanic Shop Foreman Maintenance Supervisor
Building Maintenance Supervisor
7 Yearsyrs
Heavy Equipment Mechanic Field Service Technician Maintenance Supervisor
Mechanics Supervisor
5 Yearsyrs
Service Technician Hvac Technician Maintenance Lead Technician
Maintenance Lead Person
6 Yearsyrs
Heavy Equipment Mechanic Owner/Operator Facilities Manager
Assistant Chief Engineer
7 Yearsyrs
Service Technician Journeyman Electrician Maintenance Electrician
Senior Maintenance Technician
8 Yearsyrs
Vehicle Mechanic Mechanical Technician Machinist Mate
Marine Mechanic
5 Yearsyrs
Machine Operator Manufacturing Technician Equipment Maintenance Technician
Equipment Maintenance Supervisor
7 Yearsyrs
Welder Shop Foreman Assistant Service Manager
Automotive Services Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Welder Installation Technician Low Voltage Technician
Satellite Technician
5 Yearsyrs
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Average Length of Employment
Master Mechanic 5.9 years
Auto Mechanic 4.0 years
Auto Technician 4.0 years
Diesel Mechanic 3.7 years
Mechanic 3.6 years
Truck Mechanic 3.5 years
Service Mechanic 3.4 years
Shop Mechanic 3.1 years
Mechanic Helper 2.2 years
Top Careers Before Automotive Mechanic
Mechanic 16.2%
Technician 5.5%
Cashier 4.2%
Welder 3.2%
Manager 2.6%
Driver 2.3%
Top Careers After Automotive Mechanic
Mechanic 13.4%
Technician 7.3%
Owner 3.6%
Driver 3.4%
Welder 3.3%

Do you work as an Automotive Mechanic?

Average Yearly Salary
$43,000
Show Salaries
$34,000
Min 10%
$43,000
Median 50%
$43,000
Median 50%
$43,000
Median 50%
$43,000
Median 50%
$43,000
Median 50%
$43,000
Median 50%
$43,000
Median 50%
$55,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Polaris Industries
Highest Paying City
Los Angeles, CA
Highest Paying State
Alaska
Avg Experience Level
3.8 years
How much does an Automotive Mechanic make at top companies?
The national average salary for an Automotive Mechanic in the United States is $43,719 per year or $21 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $34,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $55,000.

Real Automotive Mechanic Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Automotive/Mechanical Engineering Engineering Technology Associates, Inc. Dearborn, MI Sep 10, 2016 $69,000
Automotive Mechanical Engineering Engineering Technology Associates, Inc. Dearborn, MI Feb 09, 2016 $69,000
Automotive Mechanic TK Imports Auto Repair San Diego, CA Aug 26, 2016 $65,000
Automotive Mechanic Far East Motors, Inc. Silver Spring, MD Jan 29, 2015 $56,160
Automotive Mechanic Has, Inc. Dba Zuby's OC Tires and Brakes Garden Grove, CA May 12, 2016 $54,080
Automotive Mechanic TK Imports Auto Repair San Diego, CA May 20, 2015 $53,000
Automotive Mechanic Victoria West Services, Inc. Houston, TX Oct 22, 2010 $50,232
Automotive Mechanic Victoria West Services, Inc. Houston, TX Mar 23, 2011 $50,232
Automotive Mechanic Victoria West Services, Inc. Houston, TX Oct 27, 2011 $50,232
Automotive Mechanic Top Corporation T/A Wt Auto Body Fairfax, VA Jul 19, 2016 $50,190
Automotive Mechanic Autobahn Car Service LLC Rockville, MD Jul 22, 2016 $49,109
Automotive Mechanic Jun's Auto Body, Inc. Manassas, VA Mar 20, 2015 $46,488
Automotive Mechanic ECO Drive Auto Sales & Leasing Inc. Torrance, CA Sep 28, 2016 $46,280
Automotive Mechanic Linden Service Wellesley, MA Jan 22, 2015 $46,093
Automotive Mechanic Rafique & Hahn LLC Alexandria, VA Apr 07, 2010 $44,578
Automotive Mechanic Springs Auto Repair Inc. East Hampton, NY Apr 02, 2016 $44,533
Automotive Mechanic ABJ Foreign Auto Supply, Inc. Somerville, MA Nov 09, 2007 $43,535
Automotive Mechanic JJ Automotive II, Inc. Ridgefield, NJ Jun 09, 2016 $43,202
Automotive Mechanic Little Montgomery, Inc. T/A Laurel Motors Laurel, MD Sep 12, 2008 $43,159
Automotive Mechanic Little Montgomery, Inc. T/A Laurel Motors Laurel, MD Apr 13, 2009 $43,159
Automotive Mechanic Automedic Daignostics Inc. New York, NY Nov 25, 2015 $43,050
Automotive Mechanic F-1 Repair LLC Garfield, NJ Sep 06, 2016 $43,014
Automotive Mechanic EZ Collision LLC Houston, TX Mar 02, 2016 $39,874
Automotive Mater Mechanic Aamco Transmissions Pomona, CA Jun 16, 2008 $39,507
Automotive Mechanic Gardena Automotive Center, Inc.Dba Best Buy Tire C Gardena, CA Sep 06, 2016 $38,646
Automotive Mechanics Absolute Rover Los Angeles, CA Feb 19, 2010 $38,610 -
$40,697
Autmotive Mechanic Peter L. Howson TBA Classic Lube Delran, NJ May 15, 2008 $38,610
Automotive Technology Mechanic Autobahn Car Service LLC Rockville, MD Nov 28, 2016 $38,272
Automotive Mechanic DIDI's Automotive II LLC West Long Branch, NJ Mar 30, 2011 $38,192
Automotive Mechanic Janus Enterprise Inc. Branchburg, NJ May 20, 2008 $38,088

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Top Skills for An Automotive Mechanic

  1. Customer Vehicles
  2. Engine Repair
  3. Oil Changes
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Diagnose and troubleshoot issues with customer vehicles and repair to manufacturer specifications.
  • Performed basic engine repair and troubleshooting.
  • Perform oil changes, tune-ups, tire rotations, brakes, water pumps, replace radiators, coil overs, struts.
  • Perform all types of repairs and preventative maintenance measures according to manufacturers' specifications and guidelines.
  • Performed general maintenance and repair of automobiles and light trucks Engine tune-ups Timing belt replacement Transmission inspection Brake maintenance

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Top 10 Best States for Automotive Mechanics

  1. Wisconsin
  2. North Dakota
  3. Ohio
  4. Indiana
  5. Alaska
  6. Louisiana
  7. Texas
  8. Mississippi
  9. Montana
  10. Kentucky
  • (379 jobs)
  • (69 jobs)
  • (1,087 jobs)
  • (367 jobs)
  • (38 jobs)
  • (234 jobs)
  • (1,480 jobs)
  • (137 jobs)
  • (82 jobs)
  • (230 jobs)

Automotive Mechanic Resume Examples And Tips

The average resume reviewer spends between 5 to 7 seconds looking at a single resume, which leaves the average job applier with roughly six seconds to make a killer first impression. Thanks to this, a single typo or error on your resume can disqualify you right out of the gate. At Zippia, we went through over 5,210 Automotive Mechanic resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

Learn How To Create A Top Notch Automotive Mechanic Resume

View Resume Examples

Automotive Mechanic Demographics

Gender

Male

88.7%

Unknown

7.3%

Female

4.0%
Ethnicity

White

61.5%

Hispanic or Latino

17.0%

Black or African American

11.5%

Asian

6.6%

Unknown

3.4%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

51.0%

German

7.3%

Portuguese

5.2%

Chinese

4.2%

Arabic

4.2%

Mandarin

3.1%

Korean

3.1%

French

3.1%

Russian

3.1%

Carrier

3.1%

Tagalog

2.1%

Italian

2.1%

Vietnamese

1.0%

Hindi

1.0%

Khmer

1.0%

Ukrainian

1.0%

Armenian

1.0%

Navajo

1.0%

Filipino

1.0%

Japanese

1.0%
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Automotive Mechanic Education

Schools

Universal Technical Institute

25.9%

Central Texas College

11.0%

University of Phoenix

7.8%

Lincoln Technical Institute

7.0%

Apex Technical School

5.2%

Arizona Automotive Institute

4.1%

Nashville Auto Diesel College Inc

4.1%

A-Technical College

3.5%

Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology

3.2%

Macomb Community College

3.2%

The Academy

3.2%

Pennsylvania State University

3.2%

Automeca Technical College

2.6%

Mesa Community College - Boswell

2.3%

NASCAR Technical Institute

2.3%

Rosedale Technical Institute

2.3%

Porter and Chester Institute

2.3%

Automotive Training Center

2.3%

More Tech Institute

2.3%

Trident Technical College

2.0%
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Majors

Automotive Technology

44.0%

Business

7.6%

Mechanical Engineering Technology

7.2%

Mechanical Engineering

5.2%

General Studies

4.4%

Electrical Engineering

3.9%

Criminal Justice

3.6%

Precision Metal Working

3.1%

Electrical Engineering Technology

3.1%

Aviation

2.6%

Computer Science

2.2%

Management

1.9%

Education

1.9%

Industrial Technology

1.7%

Heating And Air Conditioning

1.5%

Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians

1.5%

Information Technology

1.3%

Drafting And Design

1.2%

Engineering

1.1%

Accounting

1.0%
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Degrees

Other

45.3%

Associate

19.3%

Bachelors

14.3%

Certificate

11.5%

Diploma

6.0%

Masters

2.6%

License

0.9%

Doctorate

0.1%
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What Is It Like To Work As An Automotive Mechanic

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Auto painter

December 22, 2019 on Zippia

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What do you like the most about working as Automotive Mechanic?

Diagnose and finding what is wrong with the automotive .. Show More

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There's nothing I don't like about work on cars.. Show More

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