Car Technician Education Requirements and Career Options

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a car technician. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and work environments to find out if this is the career for you.

To become a car technician, earning a degree in automotive technology from a trade school or apprenticeship program is highly recommended, in addition to certification. Car technicians can go on to work in dealerships, service stations, repair shops, and auto garages, where they may assist the mechanics by performing multiple smaller duties or specialized functions.

Essential Information

Car technicians, or automotive service technicians, serve a variety of roles involving the repair, maintenance and troubleshooting of various vehicle systems. They are trained to diagnose automotive problems and apply their skills to remedy problems as quickly as possible. Some car technicians learn on the job, while others complete postsecondary training. Voluntary certification through the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence may lead to enhanced job prospects.

Required Education High school diploma or equivalent, though postsecondary education is preferred
Other Requirements On-the-job training; voluntary certification is available
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 5%
Median Salary (2015)* $37,850

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Car Technician Educational Requirements

Car technicians typically hold a high school diploma or GED; many also have completed a certificate or associate's degree program in automotive technology. Those who wish to work in this field can find training programs through a variety of institutions, including vocational or technical schools, community colleges and some universities. High schools may also offer automobile repair and maintenance course sequences.

Curriculum varies according to educational program and the technician's specialty. Most degree programs combine basic college courses--such as English, social studies and history--with courses related to the technical aspects of car care. Common subjects in this area include shop math, auto systems, engine repair and basic body repair. These can be completed in 1-2 years.

Certificate programs often focus on the different areas of vehicle repair through a combination of classroom and shop work. Coursework may include basic automotive technology, engine performance, starting systems and onboard computer systems. These may be completed in one year or less.

Most car technicians also undergo rigorous training to gain valuable hands-on experience after they are employed. Some technicians participate in workshops to hone their automotive knowledge, while others receive apprentice training at automotive repair shops under the guidance of an experienced technician.

Career Options

Car technicians can be found working wherever car repairs take place, such as dealerships, service stations and automotive repair shops. Technicians may work on a variety of cars and light trucks or specialize in specific automobile brands or types, depending on their place of employment.

Those who work in small to mid-size auto repair shops often perform multiple tasks. Their work often begins the moment a car or truck is brought in. First, they complete an owner interview and initial damage estimate. The same tech may be in charge of the vehicle as it is repaired and tested, or they may oversee this work. They may also work the customer service desk or be in charge of inventory. All auto repair shop car technicians are responsible for keeping their work areas clean.

Car technicians who work in automotive repair chain stores may only be required to perform small repair services on parts such as brakes, batteries and air conditioners. These techs may also do basic maintenance tasks, such as mounting tires, wheel rotations oil changes and radiator flushing.

Technicians who are employed by large automotive repair shops, such as dealerships, often specialize in specific types of automotive repair. Transmissions specialists often repair or rebuild transmissions and work on drive trains, pumps or related parts. Air conditioning and heating technicians replace, repair and recharge coolant systems.

Car technicians must undergo plenty of on-the-job training and receive the necessary hands-on experience, typically through a postsecondary certificate or associate program. They also have to adapt to new auto technology, so their skills must continually progress.


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