Automotive Mechanic

What you need to know

Overview

Automotive service technicians and mechanics, often called service technicians or service techs, inspect, maintain, and repair cars and light trucks.

What is this career like?

Service technicians stand for most of the day, and they typically work in well-ventilated and well-lit repair shops. Although technicians often identify and fix automotive problems with computers, they commonly work with greasy parts and tools, sometimes in uncomfortable positions.

Some of the things an automotive service technician and mechanic might do:

  • Identify problems, often by using computerized diagnostic equipment
  • Plan work procedures, using charts, technical manuals, and experience
  • Test parts and systems to ensure that they work properly
  • Follow checklists to ensure that all critical parts are examined
  • Perform basic care and maintenance, including changing oil, checking fluid levels, and rotating tires
  • Repair or replace worn parts, such as brake pads, wheel bearings, and sensors
  • Perform repairs to manufacturer and customer specifications
  • Explain automotive problems and repairs to clients
What skills are needed?
  • Customer-service skills: Service technicians discuss automotive problems—along with options to fix them—with their customers. Because workers may depend on repeat clients for business, they must be courteous, good listeners, and ready to answer customers’ questions.
  • Detail oriented: Service technicians must be aware of small details when inspecting or repairing vehicle systems because mechanical and electronic malfunctions are often due to misalignments or other easy-to-miss causes.
  • Dexterity: Service technicians perform many tasks that require steady hands and good hand-eye coordination, such as assembling or attaching components and subassemblies.
  • Mechanical skills: Service technicians must be familiar with engine components and systems and know how they interact with each other. They often must take apart major parts for repairs and be able to put them back together properly.
  • Organizational skills: Service technicians must keep workspaces clean and organized in order to maintain safety and ensure accountability of parts.
  • Physical strength: Service technicians must sometimes lift and maneuver heavy parts such as engines and body panels.
  • Troubleshooting skills: Service technicians use diagnostic equipment on engine systems and components in order to identify and fix problems in increasingly complicated mechanical and electronic systems. They must be familiar with electronic control systems and the appropriate tools needed to fix and maintain them.
What is the pay?

The average pay for automotive service technicians and mechanics in the United States ranges from $22,610 to $65,430.

The specific pay depends on factors such as level of experience, education and training, geographic location, and specific industry.

What is the career outlook?

Employment of automotive service technicians and mechanics is projected to grow 6 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Job opportunities for qualified applicants should be very good, whether they obtained their knowledge through education or experience.

What education is required?

Employers prefer that automotive service technicians and mechanics complete a program at a postsecondary institution. Industry certification is usually required once the person is employed.

Some service technicians get an associate’s degree. Courses usually include mathematics, electronics, and automotive repair. Various automobile manufacturers and dealers sponsor associate’s degree programs. Students in these programs typically spend alternating periods attending classes full time and working full time in service shops under the guidance of an experienced technician.

Discover some of the courses you will take pursuing a degree in Automotive Engineering Technology.