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Become a High Performance Engine Technician

Research the requirements to become a high performance engine technician. Learn about the job duties and explore the step-by-step process to start a career in high performance engine technology. View article »

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  • 0:00 High Performance…
  • 1:06 Career Requirements
  • 2:06 Step 1: Determine…
  • 2:56 Step 2: Complete Training
  • 4:03 Step 3: Gain Certification
  • 4:43 Step 4: Advance in the Field

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Video Transcript

High Performance Engine Technician

A high performance engine technician specializes in servicing high performance engines. This career may be an apt choice for those with an understanding of engine mechanics and an appreciation for high speed vehicles. These technicians diagnose, troubleshoot, repair, and maintain engines of vehicles used in national and local car races or for private pleasure cruising. They must demonstrate expertise in specialized vehicle service and maintenance. He or she is responsible for the durability and safety of automobiles designed to perform dangerous maneuvers at high speeds.

High performance engine technicians, like other types of automotive service technicians, work in mostly well-lit, well-ventilated repair shops. The job can be physically demanding and technicians may work in awkward, uncomfortable, or small spaces near the engine block. There is a higher risk of injury in this career, though most instances are limited to scrapes, small burns, and cuts.

Career Requirements

Technicians who work on high-performance engines generally go through on-the-job training; however, employers also tend to require post-secondary training in automotive technology or another field related to engine repair. Some of these technicians work with refrigerants, which requires you to pass a certification exam. High performance engine technicians can also go on to earn certification from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence to demonstrate advanced competency in the field. Other requirements for this career include customer service skills, attention to detail, and troubleshooting skills as well as knowledge of electronic control systems, automotive systems, and industry-specific tools. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, automotive service technicians earn an average salary of $40,720 per year as of May 2015.

Now let's look at the steps you can take to become a high performance engine technician.

Step 1: Determine Qualifications

High performance auto technicians should have an aptitude for practical math, basic physics, and mechanics, as well as hands-on experience in vehicle maintenance. For example, technicians may be asked to calculate fuel consumption or estimate acceleration within specific parameters. Good teamwork is essential since many technicians in the auto racing industry work closely with general mechanics as well as mechanical engineers.

Technicians must also understand computerized installations, since most engine systems currently in use have electronic components. They also use software programs to aid in the diagnostic portion of the repair process. Good communication skills are helpful so that the technician can communicate clearly with the client. Professionals working in the race car industry must interact effectively with the pit crew.

Step 2: Complete Training Requirements

During high school, students should focus on classes in auto repair and electronics. High performance engine technicians generally go on to earn some post secondary training. Such training includes specialized courses that focus on the use of performance equipment designed to maximize the speed of high performance vehicles while maintaining industry standards for safety and maintenance. Students may also choose to enroll in an automotive school that offers an associate degree program in high performance engine technology. A few vocational schools offer bachelor's degree programs in automotive service management, which includes studies in high performance engine repair, maintenance, and rebuilding techniques. Training centers and specialty auto shops may also offer courses as part of a training program.

Keep in mind that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requires all automotive technicians who work with accelerants to pass an exam and become certified. There's no specific preparation for taking an exam, but you may want to enroll in a post-secondary program that incorporates the exam.

Step 3: Gain Certification

Automotive service technicians or mechanics aren't always required to earn certification for employment, but it typically improves job prospects. For service technicians, the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (EPA) offers the Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification, which requires applicants to have at least two years of work experience before sitting for the examination. An individual can become certified in eight separate areas, including engine performance and engine repair.

It's important to prepare for the exam in advance, and the organization's website provides example test questions for just this reason.

Step 4: Advance in the Field

Specialization and continuing education make an automotive technician eligible for more responsibility and higher pay. Those with leadership skill or experience may become supervisors or senior experts for a specific performance category for engines. Alternatively, entrepreneurial technicians with business acumen may decide to open their own high performance shops or work for other locations as consultants or subject matter experts.


To become a high performance engine technician, you may need post-secondary training, EPA certification, and on-the-job training. Certification can further improve job prospects.

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