Automotive Technician Job Description
Automotive technicians (also called service technicians or mechanics), work in repair shops where they repair, inspect and maintain cars and other light vehicles.
Automotive technicians work on many vehicle components, including belts, transmissions, engines, cooling systems, and hoses. However, today’s vehicles use more computers and electronic equipment than ever before, and the work that automotive technicians do is becoming more and more sophisticated.
Though many automotive technicians use traditional methods to diagnose problems with a vehicle, others are starting to use computers to figure out what’s wrong with a car. Computer diagnostics can be more reliable at times, but sometimes there’s just no substitute for a human automotive technician with a lot of experience under his belt.
Automotive technicians often use common hand and power tools to diagnose and correct problems with a vehicle. Wrenches, pliers, and screwdrivers are common tools that these technicians use on a daily basis.
Many technicians use their own tools at work. After many years on the job, a tool collection can easily be worth thousands of dollars, and is often worth its own insurance plan.
This can be a great occupation for people who love cars and enjoy the challenge of solving new problems each and every day.
Work Environment and Schedule
Most automotive technicians work in automotive repair shops and car dealerships. These facilities are normally comfortable and well lit. In today’s world, many car problems are diagnosed with computers, but automotive technicians still need to get their hands dirty to fix or repair a vehicle.
Minor injuries like cuts, bruises, and muscle strains are common for automotive technicians, but remaining in good physical shape and taking the proper safety precautions can help keep injuries to a minimum.
Most automotive technicians work full time. However, their schedules can be irregular at times. Because most repair shops are open on evenings and weekends, people in this occupation are expected to be available to work at those times.
Overtime is very common in this occupation, particularly when a repair shop is particularly busy. In some cases, repair shops are very busy for a period of time, and then slow for awhile. This can make the working schedule unpredictable.
How to Become an Automotive Technician
Some formal training after high school is normally required to get an entry level job in this field.
The best way to prepare for a career as an automotive technician is to attend an automotive service technology program at a vocational school or technical school. These programs normally last between six months and a year, and provide both hands on and classroom training that prepares students for a career in this field.
Some automotive technicians choose to get an associate’s degree. Associate’s degrees do a good job at providing basic training. Even though they aren’t as hands on as the technical and vocational schools, they do have some advantages.
The biggest advantage of getting an associate’s degree is that many of the college credits normally transfer if you choose to get a bachelor’s degree later on. If you think that you might be interested in getting a bachelor’s later on, then an associate’s can help prepare you for that.
Most new workers in this occupation start out as trainees, lubrication workers, or helpers. As they learn the basics of the trade, they’re able to advance into more senior positions where they work with advanced technicians and mechanics.
The Environmental Protection Agency requires that all automotive technicians who work with refrigerants are licensed. There are many training programs offered by vocational and technical schools who offer training for the required exam.
Most employers require automotive technicians to have a certification from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. Certifications are available in eight different areas, and for each area at least two years of experience in the area is required. Suspension and steering, engine performance, automatic transmission, brakes, manual drive train, heating and air conditioning, engine repair, and electrical systems are the eight specialty certifications offered.
When a technician passes all eight exams, he is considered to be a Master Automobile Technician.
There are currently 723,400 automotive technicians in the United States, with 31,170 new automotive technician job openings created each year.
Automotive Technician jobs are not expected to see much growth beyond their current levels in the next decade.
Automotive Technician Salaries
Automotive Technician salaries can vary depending on your experience, the location, company, industry, and benefits provided. Nationwide, most automotive technicians make between $26,800 – $47,500 per year, or $12.91 – $22.86 per hour.