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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

  • $58,920

    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 Jobs

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Technician Career Paths

Technician
Service Manager Operations Manager General Manager
Account Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Network Technician Information Technology Manager Director Of Information
Chief Information Officer
11 Yearsyrs
Specialist Operations Manager Human Resources Manager
Director Of Human Resources
10 Yearsyrs
Technical Support Specialist Systems Administrator Information Technology Manager
Director Of Information
10 Yearsyrs
Network Administrator Director Of Information
Director Of Information Technology Services
12 Yearsyrs
Specialist Account Manager Sales Manager
Director Of Sales
10 Yearsyrs
Network Administrator Technical Services Manager
Director Of Technology And Services
11 Yearsyrs
Service Technician Service Manager
General Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Maintenance Technician Maintenance Manager Operations Manager
Human Resources Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Network Technician Network Administrator
Information Systems Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Technical Support Specialist Network Administrator Information Technology Manager
Information Technology Director
10 Yearsyrs
Field Service Technician Technical Support Specialist Systems Administrator
Information Technology Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Operations Manager Branch Manager Account Executive
Marketing Director
7 Yearsyrs
Operations Manager General Manager Account Executive
Marketing Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Field Service Technician Service Manager General Manager
Operations Director
9 Yearsyrs
Service Technician Field Service Technician Service Manager
Operations Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Lead Technician Project Leader Business Analyst
Product Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Service Manager General Manager Account Executive
Sales Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Program Manager Marketing Manager
Senior Product Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Systems Administrator Information Technology Manager Director Of Information
Vice President Of Information Technology
12 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Technician?

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Do you work as a Technician?

Technician Demographics

Gender

Male

72.4%

Female

25.9%

Unknown

1.7%
Ethnicity

White

61.4%

Hispanic or Latino

16.5%

Black or African American

11.1%

Asian

7.4%

Unknown

3.6%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

60.4%

French

7.5%

German

3.8%

Carrier

3.0%

Arabic

3.0%

Russian

2.7%

Chinese

2.7%

Portuguese

2.4%

Mandarin

2.0%

Italian

1.8%

Japanese

1.7%

Vietnamese

1.5%

Polish

1.3%

Hindi

1.3%

Cantonese

1.2%

Korean

1.0%

Urdu

1.0%

Tagalog

0.6%

Thai

0.6%

Dakota

0.5%
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Technician Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

22.6%

Universal Technical Institute

15.0%

Community College of the Air Force

6.3%

Kaplan University

4.9%

Liberty University

4.3%

Ashford University

4.2%

Strayer University

3.7%

Northern Virginia Community College

3.5%

Texas A&M University

3.3%

Pennsylvania State University

3.2%

The Academy

3.2%

Texas Tech University

3.1%

Houston Community College

3.1%

Southern New Hampshire University

2.9%

Grand Canyon University

2.9%

Ferris State University

2.8%

University of Houston

2.8%

Arizona State University

2.8%

Michigan State University

2.7%

Utah State University

2.7%
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Majors

Business

16.5%

Automotive Technology

9.7%

Electrical Engineering

8.7%

Criminal Justice

6.1%

Computer Science

5.8%

Electrical Engineering Technology

5.1%

General Studies

4.9%

Nursing

4.6%

Information Technology

4.2%

Psychology

4.0%

Biology

3.8%

Computer Information Systems

3.8%

Computer Networking

3.3%

Medical Assisting Services

3.3%

Communication

2.8%

Education

2.7%

Management

2.7%

Medical Technician

2.7%

Health Care Administration

2.6%

Accounting

2.5%
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Degrees

Other

34.9%

Bachelors

28.4%

Associate

18.4%

Masters

6.9%

Certificate

6.8%

Diploma

3.1%

Doctorate

0.9%

License

0.6%
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Internship
Temporary

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 Sand Point, AK Jul 15, 2015 $46,436
Baader Technician Trident Seafoods Corporation Akutan, AK May 25, 2015 $46,436
Baader Technician Trident Seafoods Corporation Akutan, AK May 31, 2016 $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 North Pacific Seafoods, Inc. AK Jun 01, 2015 $37,483

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Top Skills for A Technician

SafetyProceduresCustomerServiceTechnicalSupportCompanyVehicleHardwareInternetPatientCareWindowsXPEngineEmergencyFiberOpticPreventativeMaintenanceSetupOilChangesHandToolsDataEntryHvacVitalSignsComputerSystemsEKG

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  1. Safety Procedures
  2. Customer Service
  3. Technical Support
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Spearheaded the development of work instructions and safety procedures along with implementing cost cutting retrofits that improved safety, and efficiency.
  • Provided customer service to voters at precincts during primary and national elections.
  • Provided network technical support and performed problem escalation to vendors and CIGNA management.
  • Assume responsibility of company vehicle for travel to customer locations.
  • Research open source solutions for new/existing software and hardware compatibility.

How Would You Rate Working As a Technician?

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