Automotive Engine Technician: Salary and Career Information

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an automotive engine technician. Get a quick view of the requirements, as well as details about degree programs, job duties and certification, to find out if this is the career for you.

Automotive engine technicians diagnose and repair a variety of automobile engines. They are typically required to have a high school diploma or equivalent and certification from a program approved by the Institute of Automotive Service Excellence.

Essential Information

Whether performing basic maintenance or a complex diagnosis of an engine, automotive engine technicians specialize in understanding the components of gas-powered, electric and hybrid vehicles. Traditionally known as auto mechanics, the shift in reliance on technology from simple mechanical repairs to elaborate electrical, fuel and drive systems sparks a need for updated automotive expertise. Technicians with a college degree or specialized training may increase employment opportunities.

Required Education High school diploma or equivalent
Certification Requirements Program approved by the Institute of Automotive Service Excellence
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 5% (automotive service technicians and mechanics)
Average Salary (2015)* $40,720 (automotive service technicians and mechanics)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Salary Information

Automotive engine technicians are employed in a number of industries in which cars and trucks are serviced, such as automotive manufacturers, car dealerships, gas stations, auto parts stores and independent service shops. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in May 2015 the lowest 10% of automotive service technicians and mechanics earned an annual salary of $21,020 or less and the highest 10% earned an annual salary of $63,330 or more. The highest paid mechanics and service technicians worked for the natural gas distribution industry (www.bls.gov).

Career Information

Automotive engine technicians work in repair shops, garages and labs using a variety of tools, electrical equipment and auto parts. Employing hand and power tools, engine lifting hoists and jacks, as well as a variety of engine components, technicians always need to carefully conduct their work safely when performing their job duties. Engine mechanics also use computerized equipment to access technical vehicle-specific information or perform diagnostic tests. Technicians require an intimate understanding of how engines in vehicles operate, as well as knowledge of technology utilized by different automotive manufacturers.

Educational Requirements

Obtaining a traditional college education is not required to begin a career in engine mechanics. However, due to the continuing development of technology on the job, having good computer and diagnostic skills, as well as some cognitive thinking and problem-solving ability is necessary.

A number of certificate, diploma and degree programs exist that can serve as a gateway into the automotive servicing field. Courses teach students the different components of fuel-injected and electric motors, as well as how to rebuild an entire engine. Students receive hands-on instruction using specialized engine testing and repair equipment, diagnostics software, and tools used for specific engine systems. Degree programs may also include studies in transmission, steering, braking and suspension systems.

Certification Options

Certification through a professional program approved by the Institute of Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) demonstrates competency in automotive engine technology. The ASE requires two years of related full-time experience in the automotive industry or an approved combination of training and experience, and techs must pass a comprehensive test to earn the credential. Some relevant manufacturer co-op training programs offered include:

  • Chrysler's College Automotive Program
  • Ford's Automotive Student Service Educational Training
  • Toyota's Training Education Network
  • General Motors's Automotive Service Educational Program
  • Honda's Professional Automotive Career Training

The BLS anticipated growth in the field to be about five percent between 2014-2024. Those who have completed certificate programs or professional training may experience increased job opportunities.

Automotive engine technicians are often required to obtain certification and have knowledge in use of specialized engine testing and repair equipment, diagnostics software, and engine-specific tools. They can gain experience in co-op training programs at top companies like Chrysler, Ford, Toyota, and General Motors. Automotive engine technicians earned an average salary of $40,720 in 2015.


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