Number of Jobs
We’re a car-driven society. Most of us commute to our jobs on four wheels; we pile in for family road trips, and when we need to run errands, our sedans and SUVs are almost always the transportation of choice. That’s why people place so much importance on finding a high-quality mechanic. From fairly routine tasks such as changing a car’s oil or swapping out its air filter to more complex tasks such as testing parts and systems to ensure they operate properly, automotive service technicians play a crucial role in ensuring drivers remain on the road and on the go. Diane Larson, owner of auto service and repair shop Larson’s Service Inc. in Peabody, Massachusetts, says a mechanic’s work routine runs the gamut, and every day on the job is unique. “Each day typically brings them some type of surprise or challenge, whether it be finding a water pump ... that was leaking or [addressing] rust problems.” Automotive service technicians and mechanics might work at gasoline stations or at automotive parts, accessories and tire stores. But an overwhelming majority of them work for automobile dealers or in the automotive repair and maintenance industry. Unlike diesel service technicians and mechanics, automotive service technicians and mechanics repair and inspect all types of vehicles, not just those that contain diesel engines.
Automotive service technicians and mechanics held almost 740, 000 jobs in 2014. Between 2014 and 2024, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment in the industry will expand 5 percent. The continued rise in the number of vehicles (particularly late-model cars and light trucks with longer lifespans), in tandem with the need for entry-level techs capable of providing basic maintenance and repair services is primarily driving this employment growth. However, according to the BLS, employers are experiencing some difficulty finding workers who possess the right blend of education and skills to do the job effectively.
The median annual salary for mechanic and automotive technicians was $37, 120 in 2014. The highest earners in the field made about $62, 280, while the lowest-paid took home $20, 800. Top earners in the profession work in the following industries: natural gas distribution, couriers and express delivery services, and other fabricated metal product manufacturing. The best-compensated mechanics work in the metropolitan areas of Fairbanks, Alaska; San Francisco; and San Jose, California.
|75th Percentile||$49, 780|
|25th Percentile||$27, 270|
After earning a high school degree or its equivalent, prospective auto mechanics should seek additional training to make themselves more marketable to employers. Many employers prefer to hire a service tech who has completed a training program at a vocational school or postsecondary learning institution. Typically, service technicians undergo on-the-job training as part of a formal education program. After gaining two to five years of hands-on experience, these newcomers become fully fledged technicians. They typically begin as trainee techs, technician’s helpers or lubrication workers and learn virtually every type of repair in a one- to two-year time frame. To boost future job prospects – both opportunities and pay – newly hired auto technicians should seek industry certification once they are brought on board.
Aside from mechanical and technical skills, service technicians should also fine-tune their customer-service skills. Because they often discuss automotive problems with their customers, a courteous demeanor and sound listening skills behoove those interested in breaking into the profession. Troubleshooting prowess and the ability to identify and fix problems in complex mechanical and electronic systems is also a must for service technicians.