Automotive Service Technician: Job Outlook & Career Information

Read about a career in automotive service technology. Research the educational and skill requirements, and learn about the job description and employment and salary outlook for an auto service technician.

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Job Description for an Automotive Service Technician

An automotive service technician diagnoses and repairs cars or light trucks, often as an employee of an auto shop or dealership. Other duties of an automotive service technician include inspecting vehicles, performing routine service and keeping records of work done. Day-to-day duties expected of automotive service technicians include the analysis of cars to determine what is wrong in unique circumstances, the use of testing equipment following repairs to ensure that automobiles are safe to drive and interaction with car owners and customers to gain information about performance issues and communicate repair options and prices.

Required Education None required, but certificates and associate degrees are available
Job Skills Manual dexterity, problem solving, customer service, mechanical knowledge of cars
Median Salary (2015)* $37,850 for automotive service technicians and mechanics
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 5% for automotive service technicians and mechanics

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Educational Requirements

Although not all automotive service technicians have had a formal education in their field, the majority have had some vocational training or hold a certificate or degree. Completing an educational track to become an auto service tech can take six months to two years and can lead to a certificate or associate's degree. Curriculum required by auto service programs includes classes in math, electronics, computers and automotive repair. In addition to formal training, the majority of auto service techs complete a period of on-the-job training once employed. Typically, it takes 2-5 years to become a fully-qualified service technician and an additional 1-2 years to become familiar with all types of repairs.

Certification Requirements

Employers also may require automotive service technicians to be certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. ASE certification is offered in eight areas, including engine repair, engine performance, heating and air conditioning, electrical systems, automatic transmissions, steering and suspension, manual transmissions and brakes. Typical courses for an automotive service technology program may include transmission, brakes, engines and diagnostics. All individuals who may handle the refrigerant required by car air conditioning systems must be licensed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Required Skills

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that automotive service technicians must have the following traits:

  • Proficiency with shop tools, equipment and diagnostic equipment
  • Technical and mechanical knowledge to understand how the parts of a car work together
  • Ability to work well with others to resolve problems
  • Customer service skills and the ability to problem solve
  • Manual dexterity

Employment and Salary Outlook

According to the BLS, employment of automotive service technicians and mechanics was expected to grow at an average rate of 5% from 2014-2024 as newer technology advances the auto field. BLS figures show that the median salary for an automotive service technician or mechanic was $37,850 per year in May 2015. However, many automotive service technicians work on commission, so hourly rates may fluctuate based on the flow of business.

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