Becoming an Auto Technician: Job Description & Salary Information

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Do you love working with cars? Is becoming an auto technician worth the training and education requirements? See real job descriptions in order to get the truth about the career prospects of an auto technician to find out if becoming one is right for you.
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Auto Technician Pros and Cons

If you enjoy learning about cars and working them, then being an auto technician would let you do that every day at work. Auto technicians have the opportunity to regularly work with their hands. However, working with automotive parts can make you dirty and greasy. Read on below to find out some of the pros and cons of being an auto technician.

Pros of Becoming an Auto Technician
Career advancement and pay increase opportunities available with experience*
Self-employment opportunities available by opening an independent shop*
Minimal educational requirements*
Job training available from some employers*

Cons of Becoming an Auto Technician
Evening, weekend and extended work days can be required*
Heavy lifting is required*
Serious injuries can occur if safety procedures aren't followed*
Minor injuries can be a common occurrence*
Noisy work environment*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description and Salary Information

An auto technician normally works for a dealership or an automotive repair shop and meets with a client to address automotive needs, such as inspection, maintenance and repairs. The basic duties include rotating tires and changing oil. More complex issues require the technician to thoroughly examine the vehicle. With a diagnosis, an auto technician can discuss the car's problems with the customer and take steps to fix the issues. Auto technicians typically follow a checklist when working on a car.

Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in May 2014 found that the average annual income of automotive service technicians and mechanics was around $39,980 (www.bls.gov). This made the hourly income about $19 an hour. Automotive service technicians and mechanics in the top ten percent of wage estimates earned around $62,000 or more a year.

If you're willing to relocate for a higher salary, the top-paying locations for automotive service technicians and mechanics were Alaska, the District of Columbia, New Jersey, Maryland and Massachusetts. The industries that paid auto technicians the most were natural gas distribution, courier services and fabricated metal product manufacturing.

Job Training and Education

A vocational training program is one possible way to obtain the skills and education needed as an auto technician. Some high schools, community colleges and technical schools offer these types of programs. Be aware that some high school auto technician programs require additional education after graduation to qualify for a position in this field. Concentrated programs normally take six months to one year to complete, although two years can be required if the program results in an associate's degree.

What Employers Are Looking for

Beyond the traditional set of auto technician skills, employers prefer applicants who have skills in business, communication and customer service. Having basic knowledge of computer programs can be beneficial for entering reports and sales. Keep reading to find out what employers on Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com were looking for in auto technicians in March 2012.

  • In Arizona, an automotive technician/mechanic position was open for applicants who could work under the guidelines of the Motorist Assurance Program (MAP).
  • An automotive service technician position in North Carolina required someone capable of troubleshooting and testing cars.
  • A company had an opening in Ohio for an auto technician who had a clean driving record and a familiarity with Asian-designed vehicles.
  • Higher-level vocational openings for an automotive technician business in Iowa required certifications from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (also known as ASE certification).
  • A job opening for an auto technician in Illinois required someone who had customer service experience and knowledge of Windows programs.
  • The ideal candidate for an auto technician job in Massachusetts was someone who knew how to use a Genisys scan tool.

Standing Out as an Auto Technician

Completing professional certification testing from a professional organization, such as the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), can help set you apart from other auto technicians. A technician can choose from more than 40 distinct types of ASE certification. The certification tests cover topics including automobiles and light trucks, collision repair and refinishing, damage analysis and estimating, alternate fuels and truck equipment. By passing multiple certification tests, one can earn the ASE Master Status credential. This credential requires you to possess at least two years of work experience in this field. Certifications periodically need to be renewed through a recertification test.

Alternative Vocational Paths

If you're interested in working on larger vehicles, such as cranes, bulldozers, railcars and farm machinery, then you can transfer your automotive technician skills to a career as a heavy vehicle and mobile equipment mechanic or technician. Generally, in this role, you would work with one of those previously mentioned machines rather than work with them all. You'll examine, repair and maintenance these machines to ensure they're in working order. The BLS reported that the average annual income for mobile heavy equipment mechanics was about $47,000 as of May 2011.

If you prefer to work on car repairs instead of car maintenance, consider becoming an automotive body repairer. When presented with a damaged car, the automotive body repairer uses a variety of tools to remove dents and straighten parts that are bent. Anything that can't be fixed has to be replaced by the automotive body repairer. The average salary of automotive body and related repairers was around $42,000, according to the BLS in May 2011.

Popular Schools

  • Campus Locations:
    1. Universal Technical Institute

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Automotive Technology
      • NASCAR Technology
      • Collision Repair and Refinish Technology
      • Diesel Technology
      • Motorcycle Technician Specialist
  • Campus Locations:
    2. Lincoln Tech

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    Certificate
      • Automotive Technology
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Penn Foster

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      • Career Diploma - Auto Repair Technician
      • Career Diploma - Diesel Mechanics/Heavy Truck Maintenance
      • Career Diploma - Motorcycle Repair Technician
      • Career Diploma - Small Engine Repair
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    4. Penn Foster High School

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      • High School with Automotive Repair Technician Pathway
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Universal Technical Institute

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Lincoln Tech

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  • High School with Automotive Repair Technician Pathway
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