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Become A Shop Technician

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Working As A Shop 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

  • $37,850

    Average Salary

What Does A Shop 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 A Shop 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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Shop Technician jobs

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Shop Technician Career Paths

Shop Technician
Welder Technician Specialist
Account Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Service Manager Operations Manager General Manager
Area Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Maintenance Technician Engineering Technician Engineer
Chief Engineer
10 Yearsyrs
Service Technician Service Manager General Manager
District Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Lead Technician Business Analyst Senior Finance Analyst
Finance Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Technician Service Technician Service Manager
General Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Field Technician Technical Support Specialist Information Technology Manager
Information Technology Director
10 Yearsyrs
Field Service Technician Technical Support Specialist Systems Administrator
Information Technology Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Operator Technician Sales Consultant
Internet Sales Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Field Service Technician Service Manager General Manager
Operations Director
9 Yearsyrs
Technician Field Service Technician Service Manager
Operations Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Maintenance Technician Maintenance Manager Operations Manager
Plant Manager
11 Yearsyrs
Welder Service Technician Operations Manager
President Of Operations
11 Yearsyrs
Shop Manager Operations Manager Account Executive
Product Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Service Technician Maintenance Technician Production Supervisor
Production Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Field Technician Field Service Technician Project Manager
Program Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Lead Technician Project Leader Quality Assurance Lead
Quality Assurance Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Service Manager General Manager Account Executive
Sales Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Shop Manager General Manager Account Executive
Territory Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Operator Specialist Account Manager
Territory Sales Manager
7 Yearsyrs
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Average Length of Employment
Master Technician 5.9 years
Shop Foreman 4.5 years
Auto Technician 3.7 years
Shop Lead 3.6 years
Tool Technician 3.5 years
Service Technician 3.3 years
Line Technician 3.2 years
Truck Technician 3.2 years
Repair Technician 3.1 years
Paint Technician 3.1 years
Diesel Technician 3.0 years
Shop Mechanic 2.9 years
Technician 2.6 years
Shop Technician 2.0 years
Shop Assistant 1.7 years
Lube Technician 1.5 years
Shop Helper 1.5 years
Top Employers Before
Technician 9.7%
Mechanic 8.1%
Internship 5.3%
Welder 5.2%
Cashier 5.0%
Supervisor 3.6%
Driver 3.5%
Top Employers After
Technician 12.1%
Mechanic 6.1%
Welder 5.0%
Owner 3.9%
Supervisor 3.4%
Driver 3.2%
Operator 2.9%

Shop Technician Demographics

Gender

Male

89.9%

Female

8.6%

Unknown

1.5%
Ethnicity

White

80.6%

Hispanic or Latino

11.9%

Asian

5.8%

Unknown

1.2%

Black or African American

0.5%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

60.9%

French

10.9%

Greek

4.3%

German

4.3%

Italian

4.3%

Portuguese

2.2%

Vietnamese

2.2%

Hebrew

2.2%

Ukrainian

2.2%

Dakota

2.2%

Russian

2.2%

Arabic

2.2%
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Shop Technician Education

Schools

Universal Technical Institute

17.1%

University of Louisiana at Lafayette

9.3%

Nashville Auto Diesel College Inc

8.8%

University of Phoenix

8.8%

Community College of the Air Force

4.7%

Pulaski Technical College

4.1%

Oklahoma State University

4.1%

San Juan College

3.6%

NASCAR Technical Institute

3.6%

Vincennes University

3.6%

Pennsylvania State University

3.6%

Oakland Community College

3.6%

Syracuse University

3.1%

Ferris State University

3.1%

Southern Illinois University Carbondale

3.1%

Portland State University

3.1%

Louisiana State University and A&M College

3.1%

Texas A&M University

3.1%

South Louisiana Community College

3.1%

University of Nevada - Reno

3.1%
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Majors

Automotive Technology

17.5%

Business

13.9%

Mechanical Engineering

7.1%

Electrical Engineering

6.8%

Fine Arts

6.4%

Electrical Engineering Technology

5.6%

General Studies

5.1%

Industrial Technology

4.4%

Graphic Design

4.4%

Criminal Justice

4.3%

Computer Science

4.0%

Precision Metal Working

3.1%

Aviation

2.4%

Drafting And Design

2.3%

Engineering

2.3%

Management

2.2%

Mechanical Engineering Technology

2.1%

Education

2.0%

Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians

2.0%

Information Technology

2.0%
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Degrees

Other

35.5%

Bachelors

28.5%

Associate

18.6%

Certificate

7.2%

Masters

5.3%

Diploma

3.9%

License

0.8%

Doctorate

0.3%
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Internship
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Top Skills for A Shop Technician

OrderPartsSafetyEquipmentCustomerServiceCustomerVehiclesPreventativeMaintenanceDieselEnginesDeliveryShopTechHandToolsAirCompressorsCNCHeavyEquipmentOilChangesSetupCaterpillarDrillPressPrepMIGPlasmaShopEquipment

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Top Shop Technician Skills

  1. Order Parts
  2. Safety Equipment
  3. Customer Service
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Take inventory of electrical shop and order parts as needed from outside contractors.
  • Refurbish or condemn safety equipment.
  • Provided customer service by meeting with clients to gain understanding of desired product outcome and ensuring customer needs were met.
  • Ensured all safety protocol was followed with company equipment as well as customer vehicles.
  • Performed minor repairs on generators and concrete equipment and preventative maintenance on truck engines.

Top Shop Technician Employers

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Shop Technician Videos

Auto Body Technician, Career Video from drkit.org

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

A Day in The Life of a Mechanic.mov

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