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Become A Technician

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Working As A 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

  • $36,000

    Average Salary

What Does A 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 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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Technician Career Paths

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Average Length of Employment
Master Technician 5.9 years
System Technician 4.6 years
Service Technician 3.4 years
Repair Technician 3.1 years
Technician 3.0 years
Field Technician 2.4 years
Phone Technician 1.8 years
Junior Technician 1.7 years
Top Careers Before Technician
Cashier 13.2%
Internship 5.7%
Manager 5.3%
Mechanic 4.7%
Supervisor 4.6%
Server 3.5%
Driver 3.5%
Assistant 3.2%
Cook 2.9%
Top Careers After Technician
Cashier 7.3%
Driver 6.1%
Manager 5.8%
Supervisor 5.3%
Mechanic 4.9%
Owner 4.8%
Internship 3.9%

Do you work as a Technician?

Technician Demographics

Gender

Male

66.8%

Female

23.8%

Unknown

9.5%
Ethnicity

White

61.5%

Hispanic or Latino

16.3%

Black or African American

11.6%

Asian

7.0%

Unknown

3.6%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

63.4%

French

7.0%

German

3.1%

Arabic

2.9%

Russian

2.6%

Chinese

2.5%

Portuguese

2.5%

Carrier

2.4%

Mandarin

1.9%

Italian

1.7%

Japanese

1.7%

Vietnamese

1.5%

Hindi

1.3%

Polish

1.3%

Cantonese

1.0%

Korean

0.9%

Urdu

0.9%

Tagalog

0.6%

Thai

0.5%

Hmong

0.5%
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Technician Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

21.1%

Universal Technical Institute

18.0%

The Academy

6.4%

Community College of the Air Force

5.1%

Kaplan University

4.4%

Ashford University

3.7%

Strayer University

3.5%

Houston Community College

3.5%

Lincoln Technical Institute

3.4%

Liberty University

3.2%

Texas A&M University

3.1%

Northern Virginia Community College

3.0%

Arizona State University

3.0%

Pennsylvania State University

2.8%

University of Houston

2.8%

A-Technical College

2.8%

Full Sail University

2.6%

More Tech Institute

2.6%

Michigan State University

2.5%

Texas Tech University

2.4%
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Majors

Business

16.4%

Automotive Technology

11.1%

Electrical Engineering

8.4%

Criminal Justice

5.8%

Nursing

5.5%

Computer Science

5.4%

General Studies

5.0%

Electrical Engineering Technology

4.8%

Medical Assisting Services

4.1%

Psychology

4.0%

Information Technology

3.8%

Biology

3.5%

Computer Information Systems

3.3%

Medical Technician

2.9%

Computer Networking

2.9%

Health Care Administration

2.8%

Accounting

2.6%

Communication

2.6%

Education

2.6%

Management

2.5%
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Degrees

Other

34.4%

Bachelors

27.6%

Associate

19.4%

Certificate

7.1%

Masters

6.3%

Diploma

3.8%

Doctorate

0.8%

License

0.6%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$36,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$25,000
Min 10%
$36,000
Median 50%
$36,000
Median 50%
$36,000
Median 50%
$36,000
Median 50%
$36,000
Median 50%
$36,000
Median 50%
$36,000
Median 50%
$54,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Infinera
Highest Paying City
Miami, FL
Highest Paying State
Florida
Avg Experience Level
2.7 years
How much does a Technician make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Technician in the United States is $36,954 per year or $18 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $25,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $54,000.

Real Technician Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Tech Yahoo, Paranoid Yahoo! Inc. Sunnyvale, CA Oct 26, 2016 $170,000 -
$190,000
Tech On Deck Capital, Inc. New York, NY Jun 04, 2016 $155,000
Tech Yahoo, Paranoid Yahoo! Inc. Sunnyvale, CA Jul 06, 2016 $135,133 -
$155,133
Tech MacYs.com, Inc. San Francisco, CA May 04, 2015 $134,638 -
$155,000
Tech MacYs.com, Inc. San Francisco, CA Apr 06, 2015 $134,472 -
$155,000
Spclstmstr, Tech, Infomgmt, Prfrmncemgmttech(Pmt) Deloitte Consulting LLP New York, NY Apr 21, 2015 $130,000 -
$175,000
Manager of Esports Tech NA Riot Games Inc. Los Angeles, CA Nov 02, 2016 $125,000
Technologist/Conventional Tech Monsanto Company Luling, LA Sep 11, 2015 $119,704 -
$146,200
Tech Yahoo, Paranoid, Intermediate Yahoo! Inc. Sunnyvale, CA Nov 05, 2016 $110,000 -
$130,000
Lean Technician Armstrong World Industries, Inc. Aberdeen, MD May 05, 2016 $109,179
Tech Yahoo, Paranoid Yahoo! Inc. Sunnyvale, CA Sep 23, 2016 $108,000 -
$128,000
Srcnsltnt, Tech, Infomgmt, Bi-Dw Deloitte Consulting LLP New York, NY Aug 04, 2015 $100,000 -
$158,000
Tech Yahoo, Paranoid, Interm Yahoo! Inc. Sunnyvale, CA Aug 28, 2016 $93,579 -
$121,800
Cnslt-Bus Tech Intg Bank of America N.A. San Francisco, CA Sep 29, 2016 $93,000 -
$113,000
PLC Technician Mobis Alabama, LLC Montgomery, AL Apr 08, 2016 $52,291
Baader Technician Trident Seafoods Corporation AK Jan 03, 2015 $51,132
Baader Technician Trident Seafoods Corporation Akutan, AK Feb 02, 2016 $51,132
Wool Carding Technician Chargeurs Wool USA, Inc. Jamestown, SC Apr 14, 2015 $50,000
Trailer Technician Virginia Truck Center of Richmond Chester, VA Sep 17, 2015 $47,278
Baader Technician Trident Seafoods Corporation Akutan, AK May 31, 2016 $46,436
Baader Technician Trident Seafoods Corporation Sand Point, AK Jul 15, 2015 $46,436
Baader Technician Trident Seafoods Corporation Akutan, AK May 25, 2015 $46,436
Technician B Columbia University New York, NY Feb 01, 2015 $38,998
Diving Saturation Technician Benmar Fabrication LLC Green Bay, WI Aug 17, 2015 $38,750
Hplc Technician Twentyfirst Century Biochemicals Incorporated Marlborough, MA Jan 09, 2016 $38,200
Granite and Marble Technician Atlantic Stone Works Inc. Kenilworth, NJ Jun 14, 2016 $37,690
Genius Technician Apple, Inc. Austin, TX Aug 01, 2015 $37,566 -
$41,740
Salmon ROE Technician Nichirei U.S.A., LLC AK Jun 10, 2015 $37,483
Salmon ROE Technician Nomura Trading Co., Ltd. Juneau, AK Jun 01, 2015 $37,483

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Top Skills for A Technician

  1. Customer Service
  2. Safety Procedures
  3. Technical Support
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Developed and maintained solid client relationships by providing quality customer service upon on-site visits or by phone.
  • Performed waste disposal in compliance with prescribed safety procedures and guidelines by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
  • Provided customer service and technical support throughout the United States/Canada for Merchant Services.
  • Commute to various premises in telecommunications company vehicle for customer appointments.
  • Responded to alarms for delivery equipment and non-invasive preventative maintenance using documented procedures.

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Top 10 Best States for Technicians

  1. Wyoming
  2. North Dakota
  3. Florida
  4. Colorado
  5. Nevada
  6. Illinois
  7. District of Columbia
  8. California
  9. Connecticut
  10. Oregon
  • (563 jobs)
  • (784 jobs)
  • (9,774 jobs)
  • (4,529 jobs)
  • (1,402 jobs)
  • (6,122 jobs)
  • (589 jobs)
  • (15,167 jobs)
  • (1,878 jobs)
  • (2,590 jobs)

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