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Become An Automotive Technician

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Working As An Automotive 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

  • $45,000

    Average Salary

What Does An Automotive 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 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 Technician Career Paths

Automotive Technician
Technician Team Leader Manager
Service Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Technician Electrician Maintenance Supervisor
Maintenance Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Technician Electrician
Maintenance Supervisor
7 Yearsyrs
Maintenance Technician Electrician Maintenance Supervisor
Maintenance Director
11 Yearsyrs
Maintenance Technician Foreman Manager
Facilities Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Maintenance Technician Foreman Maintenance Supervisor
Assistant Maintenance Supervisor
5 Yearsyrs
Shop Foreman Owner Maintenance Manager
Facilities Maintenance Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Mechanic Driver Foreman
General Contractor
5 Yearsyrs
Mechanic Field Service Technician Lead Technician
Technical Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Mechanic Service Technician Computer Technician
Senior Service Technician
6 Yearsyrs
Welder Quality Control Inspector Aircraft Mechanic
Lead Mechanic
6 Yearsyrs
Driver Coordinator Operation Supervisor
Fleet Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Service Technician Field Service Technician
Technical Services Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Service Technician Field Service Technician Lead Technician
Service Technician Lead
6 Yearsyrs
Machine Operator Installer Hvac Technician
Maintenance Technician Supervisor
5 Yearsyrs
Welder Installation Technician Hvac Technician
Maintenance Lead Technician
7 Yearsyrs
Welder Shop Foreman Lead Mechanic
Mechanics Supervisor
5 Yearsyrs
Operator Electronics Technician Maintenance Electrician
Senior Maintenance Technician
8 Yearsyrs
Installation Technician Hvac Technician Maintenance Technician Supervisor
Manager Of Maintenance Technology
7 Yearsyrs
Shop Foreman Assistant Service Manager
Automotive Services Manager
5 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as an Automotive Technician?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Master Technician 5.9 years
Auto Technician 4.0 years
Auto Mechanic 4.0 years
Fleet Technician 3.3 years
Lube Technician 1.6 years
Top Careers Before Automotive Technician
Technician 11.6%
Mechanic 7.1%
Cashier 6.7%
Manager 3.0%
Driver 2.7%
Top Careers After Automotive Technician
Technician 12.5%
Mechanic 7.5%
Driver 4.1%
Owner 3.9%
Manager 3.1%

Do you work as an Automotive Technician?

Automotive Technician Demographics

Gender

Male

87.6%

Unknown

7.7%

Female

4.7%
Ethnicity

White

63.0%

Hispanic or Latino

16.5%

Black or African American

11.2%

Asian

5.9%

Unknown

3.3%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

72.5%

French

4.8%

German

4.3%

Portuguese

3.4%

Russian

2.5%

Arabic

1.6%

Hindi

1.1%

Mandarin

1.1%

Japanese

1.1%

Hmong

0.9%

Italian

0.9%

Polish

0.9%

Korean

0.7%

Vietnamese

0.7%

Thai

0.7%

Dakota

0.7%

Urdu

0.7%

Romanian

0.5%

Bosnian

0.5%

Carrier

0.5%
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Automotive Technician Education

Schools

Universal Technical Institute

41.3%

Lincoln Technical Institute

9.2%

NASCAR Technical Institute

5.4%

Porter and Chester Institute

4.8%

University of Northwestern Ohio

4.6%

Nashville Auto Diesel College Inc

4.1%

University of Phoenix

3.8%

Lincoln College of Technology - Melrose Park

2.5%

Ohio Technical College

2.4%

The Academy

2.4%

Apex Technical School

2.3%

Sinclair Community College

2.3%

Arizona Automotive Institute

2.2%

A-Technical College

2.1%

Lincoln College of Technology - Indianapolis

2.0%

WyoTech - Laramie

1.9%

Automotive Training Center

1.9%

Northern Virginia Community College

1.7%

Advanced Technology Institute

1.7%

Ferris State University

1.5%
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Majors

Automotive Technology

62.3%

Business

6.9%

Mechanical Engineering Technology

3.3%

Mechanical Engineering

3.0%

General Studies

2.9%

Electrical Engineering

2.9%

Criminal Justice

2.8%

Electrical Engineering Technology

1.9%

Precision Metal Working

1.8%

Industrial Technology

1.7%

Computer Science

1.7%

Management

1.2%

Information Technology

1.2%

Engineering

1.1%

Heating And Air Conditioning

1.0%

Education

1.0%

Aviation

0.9%

Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians

0.8%

Computer Information Systems

0.8%

Accounting

0.8%
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Degrees

Other

42.4%

Associate

24.4%

Bachelors

12.1%

Certificate

11.5%

Diploma

7.2%

Masters

1.9%

License

0.3%

Doctorate

0.2%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$45,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$28,000
Min 10%
$45,000
Median 50%
$45,000
Median 50%
$45,000
Median 50%
$45,000
Median 50%
$45,000
Median 50%
$45,000
Median 50%
$45,000
Median 50%
$72,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Southern California Edison
Highest Paying City
San Diego, CA
Highest Paying State
California
Avg Experience Level
3.6 years
How much does an Automotive Technician make at top companies?
The national average salary for an Automotive Technician in the United States is $45,272 per year or $22 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $28,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $72,000.

Real Automotive Technician Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Certified Automotive Technician Borman Motor Company LLC Las Cruces, NM Jun 08, 2015 $54,262 -
$73,045
Automotive Technician Apex Automotive Repair Renton, WA Mar 16, 2010 $51,820 -
$53,907
Automotive Technician Collision Factory, Inc. San Diego, CA Sep 20, 2016 $51,210
Automotive Technician Av Auto Group Alexandria, VA May 26, 2011 $46,675
Automotive Technician Av Auto Group Alexandria, VA Aug 23, 2011 $46,675
Automotive Technician Ace Auto Services, Inc. Des Plaines, IL Aug 01, 2016 $43,500 -
$44,000
Automotive Technician Rauf A & Sons, Inc. MD Jun 28, 2016 $43,306
Automotive Technician Chang MJK, Inc. Capitol Heights, MD Apr 13, 2010 $42,825
Automotive Technician Bossier Country, LP. Fairfield, TX Mar 01, 2010 $42,515
Automotive Technician Bossier Country, LP Fairfield, TX Mar 08, 2010 $42,515
Automotive Specialist & Technician Quality Rebuilders, Inc. NJ Dec 14, 2009 $38,964
Automotive Technician Lithia Inc. Anchorage, AK Jan 05, 2016 $38,610
Automotive Technician Atlas Auto Body, Inc. Los Angeles, CA Apr 13, 2010 $38,526 -
$43,827
Automotive Technician Sunny Collision Auto Inc. Lilburn, GA May 17, 2011 $38,293
Automotive Technician Sunny Collision Auto Inc. Lilburn, GA Jan 30, 2012 $38,293
Automotive Technician/Mechanic Peabody Motor Sports, Inc. Peabody, MA Jan 04, 2016 $37,566 -
$41,740
Automotive Technician Classic Auto Body & Repairs of Greenwich Inc. Greenwich, CT Jan 11, 2008 $36,272
Automotive Technician EZ Automotive, LLC Bridgeport, CT Oct 12, 2007 $35,688
Automotive Technician Town & Country Door and Operator Co., LLC Redding, CT Nov 13, 2007 $35,688
Automotive Technician RHOM Innovations LLC Portland, OR Feb 09, 2015 $33,392
Automotive SVC Technician and Mechanic Tunnel Five, Inc. Jersey City, NJ Aug 21, 2009 $32,891
Automotive SVC Technician and Mechanic Tunnel Five, Inc. Jersey City, NJ Mar 08, 2010 $32,891

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Top Skills for An Automotive Technician

  1. Customer Vehicles
  2. Engine Repair
  3. Important Parts
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Diagnosed and repaired any unresolved issues of customer vehicles.
  • Light engine repair and servicing, responsibilities included oil and lubrication service
  • Followed checklists to ensure all important parts are examined, including other potentially troublesome areas.
  • Perform basic automotive services, including brakes, oil changes, tires, tune ups, starters, alternators, etc.
  • Perform preventative maintenance and complete major and minor repairs on vehicles

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Top 10 Best States for Automotive Technicians

  1. Colorado
  2. Wyoming
  3. Connecticut
  4. North Dakota
  5. Alaska
  6. Nebraska
  7. New Jersey
  8. District of Columbia
  9. New Hampshire
  10. Nevada
  • (1,410 jobs)
  • (72 jobs)
  • (460 jobs)
  • (171 jobs)
  • (59 jobs)
  • (417 jobs)
  • (968 jobs)
  • (34 jobs)
  • (241 jobs)
  • (233 jobs)

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