A degree or certification in vehicle repair and maintenance can lead to a career as an automotive service technician, an auto body and glass repairer, or a diesel service technician. The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence offers 40 certification options, and those who complete more than one certification may increase their job prospects. With multiple certifications it is also possible to be verified as a Master Automobile Technician.
Degree or certification programs in vehicle repair and maintenance prepare people to work on vehicle bodies, engines and systems. While many people in the automotive industry learn their skills on the job, holding formal credentials can lead to additional work opportunities or career advancement.
|Career||Automotive Service Technician||Auto Body and Glass Repairer||Diesel Service Technician/Mechanic|
|Education Requirements||Associate's degree||Associate's degree||Associate's degree|
|Projected Job Growth (2019-2029)*||-4%||2%||3%|
|Median Annual Salary (2020)*||$44,050||$44,190||$50,200|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Both community colleges and vocational schools offer associate's degree programs in vehicle repair and maintenance. These 2-year programs usually combine liberal arts courses with technical training in automotive maintenance and repair, as well as practical experience working with vehicles at on-site or local shops. Some schools offer different areas of degree specialization, such as automotive collision repair, diesel technology or automotive technology.
The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence sponsors over 40 certification options for those who work in the vehicle repair industry. Certification areas range from specializations in certain types of vehicles to proficiency in damage analysis and alternative fuels. In addition, those who pass multiple certification tests in specific areas of vehicle repair and maintenance can earn the designation of Master Automobile Technician.
Automotive Service Technicians
Automotive service technicians--also known as auto mechanics--repair, maintain and service the internal systems of automobiles, including motors, air conditioning and heating systems, drive trains and transmissions. Some technicians specialize in the repair of specific components, like brakes or steering systems. Mechanics work in independent service and repair garages or run their own establishments. They are also employed by auto dealers and manufacturers.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the median salary for automotive service technicians was $44,050 as of May 2020. While the BLS expected job prospects to be very good for technicians who have formal training and certification, it also projected an overall employment decrease between 2019 and 2029 for all occupations.
Auto Body and Glass Repairer
Auto body and glass repairers use a variety of tools, including clamps, chains, welding machines and pneumatics, to repair damage to automobile frames and bodies sustained in traffic collisions and other accidents. Like mechanics, auto body repairers might work for dedicated shops or garages, car dealers or vehicle manufacturers. As of May 2020, the median salary for an auto body repairer was $44,190. The BLS expected jobs in this field to grow slower than average between 2019 and 2029. However, employment prospects for those holding a degree or certification in vehicle repair should be excellent due to the retirement of current workers.
Diesel Service Technician or Mechanic
A bus and truck mechanic maintains and performs work on large vehicles, such as buses, trucks of all types and industrial vehicles, such as cranes. These mechanics work on diesel engines, but they can also repair and maintain all operating systems of these vehicles. As of May 2020, the median salary for bus and truck mechanics and diesel engine specialists was $50,200, according to the BLS. The BLS projected an average job growth for this occupation between 2019 and 2029. Good employment opportunities were expected for formally trained diesel service technicians and mechanics due to the need to replace retiring workers.
An associate's degree in vehicle repair and maintenance includes hands-on experience as part of the training, which prepares these graduates to enter the field of automotive repair. Specializations in automotive collision repair, diesel technology or automotive technology may also be an option. The job prospects for automotive service technicians, auto body and glass repairers, and diesel service technicians are expected to decrease 4%, increase 2%, and 3%, respectively from 2019-2029.