It may be possible to begin a career as a vehicle technician with a high school diploma. Certification is typically required after being employed in the field.
Vehicle technicians service and repair cars and automobiles in repair shops or automotive dealerships. This career typically requires no formal education, though completion of postsecondary or vocational schooling in an automotive program may be beneficial. Many technicians learn through on-the-job training. Technicians may be required to become certified through the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence.
|Required Education||Usually none; students may benefit from completion of automotive program through postsecondary or vocational school|
|Other Requirements||Certification through National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence is standard|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||5% for automotive service technicians and mechanics|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$37,850 annually for automotive service technicians and mechanics|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Duties of a vehicle technician include repairing and maintaining automobiles. These professionals may diagnose problems on all parts of a vehicle, as well as perform tests to ensure their work is safe and efficient. They must be able to work with a variety of tools, and may perform services on different types of vehicles ranging from motorcycles to alternative fuels cars. Common duties may include:
- Inspecting and testing vehicles for damage
- Recording findings for required repairs
- Tuning vehicle engines
- Replacing defective or worn parts
- Troubleshooting ignition and injection systems
- Overhauling engines
- Repairing and adjusting brakes
- Conducting electronic tests
- Estimating repair costs
- Conferring with customers on issues and agreements
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that jobs for vehicle technicians were expected to grow at a rate of about 5% from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). This rate is roughly comparable to the average rate of growth for all U.S. jobs. The BLS attributes much of this growth to an expected increase in the need for entry-level technicians who can perform rudimentary maintenance and repair procedures.
The BLS also notes that technicians with an expertise in a type of vehicle, such as hybrid cars, or vehicle system will see the best opportunities. Opportunities for vehicle technicians with postsecondary education or an Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification should be stronger than those with only a high school or equivalent education. While ASE certification is not required, it is becoming an accepted minimum standard for technicians to work for larger corporations.
The BLS reports that the median annual salary for vehicle technicians was $37,850 as of May 2015. This equates to $18.20 per hour. Technicians who were in the top 10% in the industry in income made a median of $63,330 or more per annum, while those who were in the bottom 10% in earnings made $21,020 or less per year. The state of California employed the most vehicle technicians and mechanics in 2015, and the average salary for these technicians was $44,940 yearly. Vehicle technicians in the District of Columbia earned more than those in any other state in the U.S., with average earnings of $61,050 annually.
Although it's possible to begin a career as a vehicle technician with a high school diploma, applicants with postsecondary certification or a related associate's degree will be able to compete more effectively for positions in this field. Taking shop classes and acquiring hands-on experience will also help applicants appeal to prospective employers.