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Become An Automotive Service Technician

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Working As An Automotive Service Technician

  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Getting Information
  • Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Unpleasant/Hazardous Environment

  • Outdoors/walking/standing

  • Stressful

  • $39,495

    Average Salary

What Does An Automotive Service Technician 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 Service Technician

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 Service Technician jobs

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Automotive Service Technician Career Paths

Automotive Service Technician
Maintenance Technician Field Service Technician Service Manager
Account Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Service Technician Field Service Technician Service Manager
Branch Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Field Service Technician Systems Administrator Engineer
Chief Engineer
10 Yearsyrs
Service Manager Operations Manager General Manager
Chief Executive Officer
8 Yearsyrs
Technician Service Manager General Manager
District Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Machine Operator Office Manager Accounting Manager
Finance Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Service Technician Service Manager
General Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Truck Driver Operations Manager Sales Consultant
Internet Sales Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Maintenance Technician Maintenance Manager Operations Manager
Operations Director
9 Yearsyrs
Automotive Technician Maintenance Technician Maintenance Manager
Operations Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Mechanic Technician Operations Manager
Plant Manager
11 Yearsyrs
Mechanic Maintenance Supervisor Operations Manager
President Of Operations
11 Yearsyrs
Field Service Technician Technical Support Specialist Business Analyst
Product Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Automotive Technician Technician Project Manager
Program Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Security Officer Dispatcher Operations Manager
Purchasing Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Truck Driver Operation Supervisor Production Manager
Quality Manager
11 Yearsyrs
Service Manager General Manager District Manager
Regional Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Technician Specialist Account Manager
Sales Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Security Officer Account Manager Account Executive
Territory Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Machine Operator Security Officer Account Manager
Territory Sales Manager
7 Yearsyrs
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Automotive Service Technician Demographics

Gender

  • Male

    93.5%
  • Female

    5.7%
  • Unknown

    0.8%

Ethnicity

  • White

    78.1%
  • Hispanic or Latino

    12.3%
  • Asian

    7.4%
  • Unknown

    1.7%
  • Black or African American

    0.5%
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Languages Spoken

  • Spanish

    56.3%
  • French

    9.4%
  • German

    6.3%
  • Arabic

    6.3%
  • Japanese

    3.1%
  • Greek

    3.1%
  • Carrier

    3.1%
  • Thai

    3.1%
  • Russian

    3.1%
  • Korean

    3.1%
  • Italian

    3.1%
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Automotive Service Technician Education

Automotive Service Technician

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Real Automotive Service Technician Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics Wilson Automotive Texarkana, TX Aug 05, 2011 $69,950
Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics Autotechnica, Inc. Sunnyvale, CA May 13, 2011 $63,299
Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics Independent Car Specialists, Inc. Los Alamitos, CA Feb 13, 2013 $57,572
Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics Easy Way Auto Repairs Inc. New York, NY Oct 26, 2012 $57,500
Automotive Service Technician and Mechanic Autotechnica, Inc. Sunnyvale, CA Dec 13, 2007 $52,989
Automotive Service Technician & Mechanic Bisma Mobile, Inc. New York, NY Nov 04, 2016 $52,582
Automotive Service Technician & Mechanic Bisma Mobile, Inc. New York, NY Jul 21, 2015 $52,582
Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics Victory Service Station, Inc. New York, NY Jun 04, 2014 $50,400
Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics H&D Automotive Corp. New York, NY Sep 19, 2014 $50,400
Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics Sandman Inc. DBA Star Concrete San Jose, CA Nov 25, 2013 $50,086
First Line Supervisor of Automotive Service Technician MRS Cleaning Service Inc. Hudson, MA Sep 17, 2010 $49,566
Automotive Service Technician and Mechanic Skyline Transmission, Inc. Falls Church, VA Oct 27, 2015 $48,360
Automotive Service Technician and Mechanic Master Auto Care, Inc. Springfield, VA Jun 18, 2015 $48,360
Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics P&N Inc. D/B/A European Service Centre Leesburg, VA Jan 17, 2014 $48,173
Automotive Service Technician Tire Kingdom D/B/A Merchants Tire and Auto Havelock, NC Jan 18, 2008 $39,528
Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics Auto Collision Experts, LLC Elizabeth, NJ Jul 26, 2010 $39,298
Automotive Service Technician Birch Tire Corporation Rockaway, NJ Jul 28, 2008 $39,298
Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics Marvic Transmission, Inc. Islandia, NY Nov 24, 2010 $39,131
Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics Pena's Transmission Inc. Houston, TX Feb 06, 2013 $39,104
Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics Circle Brake Service of Passaic County, Inc. Clifton, NJ Jan 21, 2011 $39,083
Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics 35 Auto Repair and Body Shop, Corp. NY Nov 14, 2012 $39,083
Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics Circle Brake Service of Passaic County, Inc. Clifton, NJ Mar 25, 2011 $39,083
Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics CEMI Automotive, Inc. Horsham, PA Jan 15, 2008 $31,994
Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics Milis Auto Center, Inc. Philadelphia, PA May 13, 2010 $31,910
Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics Martinez Tire Service & Mechanic, LLC. Yuma, AZ Mar 06, 2013 $31,305
Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics 109 Muffler Shop Los Angeles, CA Aug 15, 2008 $31,305
Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics Larocca's Garage Inc. Bridgeport, CT Sep 30, 2008 $31,305
Automotive Service Technician Scully Ingineering Contractors Inc. Los Angeles, CA Nov 14, 2007 $31,305
Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics California Z Cars, Inc. Los Angeles, CA Mar 08, 2013 $31,096
Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics I.S.International, Inc./DBA Econo Lube N' Tune#107 San Luis Obispo, CA Oct 05, 2007 $31,034

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Top Skills for An Automotive Service Technician

CustomerVehiclesEnginePerformanceImportantPartsOilChangesSafetyCustomerServiceDiagnosisPreventativeMaintenanceDiagnosticEquipmentElectricalSystemsTireRotationsGeneralMaintenanceASETroubleshootWheelBearingsVehicleMaintenanceFuelSystemsA/CHvacCustomerSatisfaction

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Top Automotive Service Technician Skills

  1. Customer Vehicles
  2. Engine Performance
  3. Important Parts
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Diagnosed and checked customer vehicles to resolve problems and provided mechanical repairs.
  • Worked on all types of vehicles, Specializing in Engine Performance and Import Vehicle Service.
  • Followed procedures to verify that all important parts were examined and prioritized repairs as needed.
  • Completed vehicle service requirements such as minor tune ups, basic oil changes, and tire rotations.
  • Perform safety inspections on vehicles in order to identify any discrepancies.

Top Automotive Service Technician Employers

Automotive Service Technician Videos

Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics Job Description

Automotive Service Technician

What A Day As A Mechanic Looks Like ~Time Lapse Video

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