Automotive technology careers can be pursued with a certificate, associate's degree or a bachelor's degree in automotive technology. Although it is not always required, professional certification may appeal to potential employers and increase job prospects. While it has been possible to learn this trade on-the-job in the past, since automotive technology is more complex now formal training is preferred.
Automotive technology careers are available with many titles, but job duties typically include diagnosing and repairing the mechanical systems of automobiles, diesel trucks and other vehicles. Prospective automotive technicians might complete a certificate or degree in automotive technology from a community college or vocational school. Most employers prefer to hire automotive technicians who hold or can qualify for professional certifications.
|Required Education||Certificate, associate's or bachelor's degree in automotive technology|
|Other Requirements||Professional certification is recommended|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||5%|
|Median Annual Salary (2015)*||$37,850|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Information about Automotive Technology Careers
Automotive technology encompasses careers in the inspection, repair and maintenance of a vehicle's mechanical and electronic systems, including those found on cars, trucks, motorcycles, aircraft, marine and industrial vehicles. Common job titles include automobile service technician and mechanic. Workers in this field also might choose to specialize in a specific automotive area or equipment, such as tires, alternative fuel vehicles, diesel vehicles, emissions systems and specialty fabrications.
Job Outlook and Salary
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported there were over 739,000 jobs in automotive repair and maintenance in 2014 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also projected that employment of automotive technicians and mechanics would increase 5% from 2014-2024, while diesel mechanics experience a 12% job growth rate during the same time period. The median hourly wage of automotive service technicians and mechanics was $18.20 in 2015, according to the BLS.
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Requirements for an Automotive Technology Career
Due to the increasing complexity of automotive technology, most automotive technician employers prefer that applicants complete some formal training, such as an automotive technology certificate program, before obtaining entry-level trainee positions, according to the BLS. Many community colleges and technical schools also offer associate and bachelor's degree programs in this area. Common course topics within these programs include steering and suspension, heating and air conditioning systems, transmission, drivetrains, braking systems, engine performance and electrical systems.
There are many professional certifications also available and, though they're not required, they can enhance job opportunities. The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) offers some of the most common credentials. In 2013, an estimated 333,000 professionals held an ASE credential in at least one of eight areas of expertise. Individuals who complete all eight certifications can use the title Master Automobile Technician. Certification requires two years of full-time experience and a qualifying score on a written exam. Professionals must be retested every two years to maintain certification.
A career in automotive technology involves maintaining and repairing the systems in vehicles, and it's possible to specialize and focus on a specific system, such as brake repairs or diesel engines. The job growth for automotive service technicians and mechanics is expected to match the national average from 2014 to 2024, and diesel service technicians and mechanics are expected to enjoy a rate of job growth double the national average during the same time period. Most mechanics complete vocational programs, and earning professional certification can appeal to employers.