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Vehicle Technician: Career Profile

Sep 14, 2019

Vehicle technicians typically require little formal education. Learn about the training, job duties, and certification to find out if this is the right career for you.

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.

Essential Information

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 (2018-2028)* 1% decline for automotive service technicians and mechanics
Median Salary (2018)* $40,710 annually for automotive service technicians and mechanics

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Profile

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

Career Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that jobs for vehicle technicians were expected to decline at a rate of about 1% from 2018-2028 (www.bls.gov).

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.

Salary Information

The BLS reports that the median annual salary for vehicle technicians was $40,710 as of May 2018. This equates to $19.57 per hour. Technicians who were in the top 10% in the industry in income made a median of $66,950 or more per annum, while those who were in the bottom 10% in earnings made $23,420 or less per year. The state of California employed the most vehicle technicians and mechanics in 2018, and the average salary for these technicians was $48,720 yearly. Vehicle technicians in the District of Columbia earned more than those in any other state in the U.S., with average earnings of $59,350 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.

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