|Degree Level||Postsecondary training|
|Degree Field||Automotive service technology or related field|
|Licensing and Certification||EPA requires refrigerant handling licensing; ASE, BMW Step certification may be preferred/required by employers|
|Experience||Varies by employer; 3+ years typical|
|Key Skills||Mechanical and technical dexterity; good verbal and written communication and troubleshooting skills; experience with exhaust-emission analyzers, brake-repair kits, circuit testers, light displays, pressure indicators and various pliers, pullers, screwdrivers, and wrenches|
|Salary||$37,850 (2016 median for automotive service technicians and mechanics)|
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*Net OnLine, PayScale.com
BMW mechanics are automotive service technicians who work specifically with BMW automobiles. Like other types of automotive mechanics, BMW specialists must run diagnostic tests and identify problematic parts within cars. Basic car care and maintenance, the replacement of broken or worn parts, and the explanation of repairs or recommendations to customers are all duties completed by auto repair technicians.
There is a higher-than-average risk of injury associated with this career. The majority of instances are limited to sprained muscles, scrapes, and scratches. Mechanics generally work in auto repair shops. Those who specialize in BMWs may be employed by a dealership. Mechanics work as part of a team of auto repair technicians. Most mechanics work full-time and overtime is common.
Professional mechanics should have mechanical and technical dexterity, strong verbal and written communication skills, troubleshooting ability and experience with tools and automobile systems. In 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that automobile service technicians and mechanics in general earned a median annual wage of $37,850. However, in 2016, Payscale.com reported that automotive technicians, specifically employed by BMW, earned a salary range of $24,650 to $58,121.
Also according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, getting postsecondary training in automotive service technology is becoming increasingly important as automobile systems become more complicated and technologically advanced. In addition, employers may prefer candidates who have completed a formal training program over one who has not.
Education in this field can be found at technical or community colleges as associate or shorter-length certificate programs. Some are designed to prepare students for ASE certification. Many programs have a flexible format designed for working students. Students enrolled in automotive service technology programs commonly take courses in engine maintenance and repair, suspension, brake systems, electrical systems, refinishing and body repair.
Most automotive service technology programs include a strong practical component. Getting work experience through internships or cooperative courses included in the training program can be a good way to gain experience and network with professionals in the industry.
Mechanics and technicians also need to be able to communicate effectively with clients, coworkers and managers, whether they run their own operations or work in a dealership or private repair shop. Taking electives that help build writing and speaking abilities may be beneficial in raising communication skills.
Get On-the-Job Training
After completing a postsecondary training program, students can apply for entry-level positions in order to get work experience and receive on-the-job training. Students may find positions in auto service shops, repair garages or dealerships and get a few years of experience to add to their skills and familiarity dealing with repairs and maintenance. Generally, having more work experience is advantageous when applying for mechanic positions.
At this point, aspiring BMW mechanics should also try to gain experience working specifically with BMWs or imports. BMWs are an import brand of automobile; they have parts and procedures different from domestic autos. Building work experience at an import or BMW repair shop can be a good way to increase desirability to prospective employers.
Get ASE Certification
Getting ASE, or Automotive Service Excellence certification is the industry-accepted method of credentialing mechanics and auto service technicians. There are eight different certifications offered by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence in areas like brakes, electronic systems, engine repair, engine performance, suspension and steering. In order to earn a certification, requirements include a couple years of work experience or a combination of formal training and work experience. The final step entails passing an exam. A technician who becomes certified in all eight areas can gain the Master Status designation from the ASE. Earning ASE certification shows prospective employers a candidate's skill level, experience and expertise in the field. Some employers may require ASE certification for employment. ASE certifications must be renewed every five years and requires successfully passing an exam.
Complete BMW Step Program
The next step in this career path is to complete the BMW Service Technician Education Program (STEP). This is a manufacturer training program that only accepts top students from technical schools nationwide. Although graduating from this program is not required to become a BMW mechanic, completing the program is a great way to show expertise.
In order to qualify for the BMW Step Program, an individual needs to be an excellent student with a GPA over 3.2 GPA and have a 98% minimum attendance record in their technical program. Other requirements include passing a written exam and a personal interview. Having work experience is also highly desirable, and a candidate should be willing to relocate after program completion. Although BMW covers most of the cost of the program, a student needs to be able to financially support themselves during training. Graduates from the program are guaranteed at least one job offer with a BMW dealership or center and must work at an affiliated BMW dealership or center for a minimum of one year.
Once again, an aspiring BMW mechanic should first learn the basics of automotive service technology before gaining hands-on experience, seeking certification and then working specifically with BMW automobiles.