Service Technicians and Mechanics as a Career
Repair Training Schools
Automotive & Diesel Institute, located at 178-18 Liberty
Ave, Jamaica, New York 11433, accessible via both public and
private transportation. All classrooms are furnished with appropriate
equipment for the effective instruction of students in the Automotive/Heavy
Duty Master Certified Automotive Technician and Collision Repair
Technician programs. At NYADI, you will learn by using the same
state-of-the-art equipment used by General Motors, Ford, Chrysler,
Toyota and Caterpillar. Students don't just change parts, they
use factory procedures to properly diagnose the problem and
"fix it right the first time."
Institute of Technology in Rhode Island is renowned for providing
students like you with the hands-on skills they need to succeed.
NEIT is an accredited school offering tech focused associate
and bachelor's degrees in 28 fields of study. If you're serious
about your future, this is the school for you.
Technical Institute--located in Mooresville, North Carolina,
otherwise known as Race City, U.S.A. --offers instruction on
the basics of engine construction, body and aero applications,
chassis applications, body fabrication, chassis fabrication,
dyno testing for performance and durability. As the exclusive
educational partner of NASCAR, they are the first and only technical
training school to officially combine automotive and NASCAR
technology programs. more info
Service Technicians and Mechanics as a Career
automotive technician training is the best preparation for these challenging technology-based
should be very good for automotive service technicians and mechanics with diagnostic
and problem-solving skills, knowledge of electronics and mathematics, and mechanical
service technicians and mechanics must continually adapt to changing technology
and repair techniques as vehicle components and systems become increasingly sophisticated.
of the Work
whose car or light truck has broken down knows the importance of the jobs of automotive
service technicians and mechanics. The ability to diagnose the source of a problem
quickly and accurately requires good reasoning ability and a thorough knowledge
of automobiles. Many technicians consider diagnosing hard-to-find troubles one
of their most challenging and satisfying duties.
work of automotive service technicians and mechanics has evolved from mechanical
repair to a high technology job. As a result, these workers are now usually called
“technicians” in automotive services and the term “mechanic” is falling into disuse.
Today, integrated electronic systems and complex computers run vehicles and measure
their performance while on the road. Technicians must have an increasingly broad
base of knowledge about how vehicles’ complex components work and interact, as
well as the ability to work with electronic diagnostic equipment and computer-based
technical reference materials.
service technicians use their high-tech skills to inspect, maintain, and repair
automobiles and light trucks that run on gasoline, ethanol and other alternative
fuels, such as electricity. The increasing sophistication of automotive technology
now requires workers who can use computerized shop equipment and work with electronic
components while maintaining their skills with traditional hand tools.
mechanical or electrical troubles occur, technicians first get a description of
the symptoms from the owner or, if they work in a large shop, from the repair
service estimator or service advisor who wrote the repair order. To locate the
problem, technicians use a diagnostic approach. First, they test to see whether
components and systems are proper and secure. Then, they isolate the components
or systems that could not logically be the cause of the problem. For example,
if an air-conditioner malfunctions, the technician’s diagnostic approach can pinpoint
a problem as simple as a low coolant level or as complex as a bad drive-train
connection that has shorted out the air conditioner. Technicians may have to test
drive the vehicle or use a variety of testing equipment, such as onboard and hand-held
diagnostic computers or compression gauges, to identify the source of the problem.
These tests may indicate whether a component is salvageable or whether a new one
is required to get the vehicle back in working order.
routine service inspections, technicians test and lubricate engines and other
major components. In some cases, the technician may repair or replace worn parts
before they cause breakdowns that could damage critical components of the vehicle.
Technicians usually follow a checklist to ensure that they examine every critical
part. Belts, hoses, plugs, brake and fuel systems, and other potentially troublesome
items are among those closely watched.
technicians use a variety of tools in their work—power tools, such as pneumatic
wrenches to remove bolts quickly; machine tools like lathes and grinding machines
to rebuild brakes; welding and flame-cutting equipment to remove and repair exhaust
systems, and jacks and hoists to lift cars and engines. They also use common hand
tools, such as screwdrivers, pliers, and wrenches, to work on small parts and
in hard-to-reach places.
also have become commonplace in modern repair shops. Service technicians compare
the readouts from computerized diagnostic testing devices with the benchmarked
standards given by the manufacturer of the components being tested. Deviations
outside of acceptable levels are an indication to the technician that further
attention to an area is necessary. A shop’s computerized system provides automatic
updates to technical manuals and unlimited access to manufacturers’ service information,
technical service bulletins, and other databases that allow technicians to keep
current on problem spots and to learn new procedures.
service technicians in large shops have increasingly become specialized. For example,
transmission technicians and rebuilders work on gear trains, couplings,
hydraulic pumps, and other parts of transmissions. Extensive knowledge of computer
controls, the ability to diagnose electrical and hydraulic problems, and other
specialized skills are needed to work on these complex components, which employ
some of the most sophisticated technology used in vehicles. Tuneup technicians
adjust the ignition timing and valves, and adjust or replace spark plugs and
other parts to ensure efficient engine performance. They often use electronic
testing equipment to isolate and adjust malfunctions in fuel, ignition, and emissions
air-conditioning repairers install and repair air-conditioners and service
their components, such as compressors, condensers, and controls. These workers
require special training in Federal and State regulations governing the handling
and disposal of refrigerants. Front-end mechanics align and balance wheels
and repair steering mechanisms and suspension systems. They frequently use special
alignment equipment and wheel-balancing machines. Brake repairers adjust
brakes, replace brake linings and pads, and make other repairs on brake systems.
Some technicians specialize in both brake and front-end work. Even though electronics
and electronic systems in automobiles were a specialty in the past, electronics
are now so common that it is essential for all types of service technicians to
be familiar with at least the basic principles of electronics.
half of automotive service technicians work more than 40 hours a week. Some may
also work evenings and weekends to satisfy customer service needs. Generally,
service technicians work indoors in well-ventilated and -lighted repair shops.
However, some shops are drafty and noisy. Although some problems can be fixed
with simple computerized adjustments, technicians frequently work with dirty and
greasy parts, and in awkward positions. They often lift heavy parts and tools.
Minor cuts, burns, and bruises are common, but technicians can usually avoid serious
accidents if the shop is kept clean and orderly, and safety practices are observed.
Other Qualifications, and Advancement
technology is rapidly increasing in sophistication, and most training authorities
strongly recommend that persons seeking automotive service technician and mechanic
jobs complete a formal training program in high school, or in a postsecondary
vocational school or community college. However, some service technicians still
learn the trade solely by assisting and learning from experienced workers. Courses
in automotive repair, electronics, physics, chemistry, English, computers, and
mathematics provide a good educational background for a career as a service technician.
school programs, while an asset, vary greatly in scope. Some aim to equip graduates
with enough skills to get a job as a technician’s helper or trainee technician.
Other programs offer only an introduction to automotive technology and service
for the future consumer or hobbyist. Some of the more extensive programs participate
in Automotive Youth Education Service (AYES), which has about 500 participating
schools and more than 4000 participating dealers. Students who complete these
programs receive an AYES certification and upon high school graduation are better
prepared to enter entry-level technician positions, or to advance their technical
automotive technician training programs vary greatly in format, but normally provide
intensive career preparation through a combination of classroom instruction and
hands-on practice. Some trade and technical school programs provide concentrated
training for 6 months to a year, depending on how many hours the student attends
each week, and award a certificate. Community college programs normally award
an associate degree or certificate and usually spread the training over 2 years
by supplementing the automotive training with instruction in English, basic mathematics,
computers, and other subjects. Some students earn repair certificates in one particular
skill and opt to leave the program to begin their career before graduation. Recently,
some programs have added to their curriculums training on employability skills
such as customer service and stress management. Employers find that these skills
help technicians handle the additional responsibilities of dealing with the customers
and parts vendors.
various automobile manufacturers and their participating dealers sponsor 2-year
associate degree programs at postsecondary schools across the Nation. The Accrediting
Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT) currently certifies
a number of automotive and diesel technology schools. Schools update their curriculums
frequently to reflect changing technology and equipment. Students in these programs
typically spend alternate 6- to 12-week periods attending classes full time and
working full time in the service departments of sponsoring dealers. At these dealerships,
students get practical experience while assigned to an experienced worker who
provides hands-on instruction and timesaving tips.
ASE certification is a nationally recognized standard for programs offered by
high schools, postsecondary trade schools, technical institutes, and community
colleges that train automobile service technicians. Some automotive manufacturers
provide ASE-certified instruction programs with service equipment and current-model
cars on which students practice new skills and learn the latest automotive technology.
While ASE certification is voluntary, it does signify that the program meets uniform
standards for instructional facilities, equipment, staff credentials, and curriculum.
To ensure that programs keep up with ever-changing technology, repair techniques,
and ASE standards, the certified programs are subjected to periodic compliance
reviews and mandatory recertification, as are the ASE standards themselves. In
2004, about 2000 high school and postsecondary automotive service technician training
programs had been certified by ASE.
trainee automotive service technician jobs, employers look for people with strong
communication and analytical skills. Technicians need good reading, mathematics,
and computer skills to study technical manuals and to keep abreast of new technology
and learn new service and repair procedures and specifications. Trainees also
must possess mechanical aptitude and knowledge of how automobiles work. Most employers
regard the successful completion of a vocational training program in automotive
service technology as the best preparation for trainee positions. Experience working
on motor vehicles in the Armed Forces or as a hobby also is valuable. Because
of the complexity of new vehicles, a growing number of employers require completion
of high school and additional postsecondary training.
new cars have several onboard computers, operating everything from the engine
to the radio. Engine controls and dashboard instruments were among the first components
to use electronics, but today most automotive systems, such as braking, transmission,
and steering systems, are controlled primarily by computers and electronic components.
Some of the more advanced vehicles have global positioning systems, Internet access,
and other high-tech features integrated into the functions of the vehicle. The
training in electronics is vital because electrical components, or a series of
related components, account for nearly all malfunctions in modern vehicles.
addition to electronics and computers, automotive service technicians will have
to learn and understand the science behind the alternate-fuel vehicles that have
begun to enter the market. The fuel for these vehicles will come from the dehydrogenization
of water, electric fuel cells, natural gas, solar power, and other non-petroleum-based
sources. Hybrid vehicles, for example, use the energy from braking to recharge
batteries that power an electric motor, which supplements a gasoline engine. As
vehicles with these new technologies become more common, technicians will need
additional training to learn the science and engineering that makes them possible.
Currently, the manufacturers of these alternate-fuel vehicles are providing the
necessary training. However, as the warrantees begin to expire, technicians in
all industries will need to be trained to service these vehicles. As the number
of these automobiles on the road increases, some technicians will likely specialize
in the service and repair of these vehicles.
new to automotive service usually start as trainee technicians, technicians’ helpers,
or lubrication workers, and gradually acquire and practice their skills by working
with experienced mechanics and technicians. With a few months’ experience, beginners
perform many routine service tasks and make simple repairs. While some graduates
of postsecondary automotive training programs are often able to earn promotion
to the journey level after only a few months on the job, it typically takes 2
to 5 years of experience to become a journey level service technician, who is
expected to quickly perform the more difficult types of routine service and repairs.
An additional 1 to 2 years of experience familiarizes technicians with all types
of repairs. Complex specialties, such as transmission repair, require another
year or two of training and experience. In contrast, brake specialists may learn
their jobs in considerably less time because they do not need a complete knowledge
of automotive repair.
work, the most important possessions of technicians are their hand tools. Technicians
usually provide their own tools, and many experienced workers have thousands of
dollars invested in them. Employers typically furnish expensive power tools, engine
analyzers, and other diagnostic equipment, but technicians accumulate hand tools
with experience. Some formal training programs have alliances with tool manufacturers
that help entry-level technicians accumulate tools during their training period.
increasingly send experienced automotive service technicians to manufacturer training
centers to learn to repair new models or to receive special training in the repair
of components, such as electronic fuel injection or air-conditioners. Motor vehicle
dealers and other automotive service providers also may send promising beginners
to manufacturer-sponsored technician training programs; most employers periodically
send experienced technicians to manufacturer-sponsored technician training programs
for additional training to maintain or upgrade employees’ skills and thus increase
the employees’ value to the employer. Factory representatives also visit many
shops to conduct short training sessions.
certification by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE)
has become a standard credential for automotive service technicians. Certification
is available in 1 or more of 8 different areas of automotive service, such as
electrical systems, engine repair, brake systems, suspension and steering, and
heating and air-conditioning. For certification in each area, technicians must
have at least 2 years of experience and pass the examination. Completion of an
automotive training program in high school, vocational or trade school, or community
or junior college may be substituted for 1 year of experience. For ASE certification
as a master automobile technician, technicians must be certified in all eight
areas. Technicians must retake each examination once every 5 years to maintain
technicians who have leadership ability sometimes advance to shop supervisor or
service manager. Those who work well with customers may become automotive repair
service estimators. Some with sufficient funds open independent repair shops.
technicians and mechanics held about 803,000 jobs in 2004. The majority worked
for automotive repair and maintenance shops, automobile dealers, and retailers
and wholesalers of automotive parts, accessories, and supplies. Others found employment
in gasoline stations; home and auto supply stores; automotive equipment rental
and leasing companies; Federal, State, and local governments; and other organizations.
More than 16 percent of service technicians were self-employed, more than twice
the proportion for all installation, maintenance, and repair occupations.
in this occupation are expected to be very good for persons who complete automotive
training programs in high school, vocational and technical schools, or community
colleges as employers report difficulty in finding workers with the right skills.
Persons with good diagnostic and problem-solving abilities, and whose training
includes basic electronics and computer courses, should have the best opportunities.
For well-prepared people with a technical background, automotive service technician
careers offer an excellent opportunity for good pay and the satisfaction of highly
skilled work with vehicles incorporating the latest in advanced technology. However,
persons without formal automotive training are likely to face competition for
of automotive service technicians and mechanics is expected to increase as fast
as the average through the year 2014. Over the 2004-14 period, demand for technicians
will grow as the number of vehicles in operation increases, reflecting continued
growth in the number of multi-car families. Growth in demand will be offset somewhat
by slowing population growth and the continuing increase in the quality and durability
of automobiles, which will require less frequent service. Additional job openings
will be due to the need to replace a growing number of retiring technicians, who
tend to be the most experienced workers.
persons who enter the occupation can expect steady work, even through downturns
in the economy. While car owners may postpone maintenance and repair on their
vehicles when their budgets become strained, and employers of automotive technicians
may cutback hiring new workers, changes in economic conditions generally have
minor effects on the automotive service and repair business.
growth will continue to be concentrated in automobile dealerships and independent
automotive repair shops. Many new jobs also will be created in small retail operations
that offer after-warranty repairs, such as oil changes, brake repair, air-conditioner
service, and other minor repairs generally taking less than 4 hours to complete.
Employment of automotive service technicians and mechanics in gasoline service
stations will continue to decline, as fewer stations offer repair services.
Median hourly earnings
of automotive service technicians and mechanics, including commission, were $15.60
in May 2004. The middle 50 percent earned between $11.31 and $20.75 per hour.
The lowest 10 percent earned less than $8.70, and the highest 10 percent earned
more than $26.22 per hour. Median annual earnings in the industries employing
the largest numbers of service technicians in May 2004 were as follows:
Automotive repair and maintenance
Automotive parts, accessories, and tire stores
experienced technicians employed by automobile dealers and independent repair
shops receive a commission related to the labor cost charged to the customer.
Under this method, weekly earnings depend on the amount of work completed. Employers
frequently guarantee commissioned technicians a minimum weekly salary.
automotive service technicians are members of labor unions such as the International
Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers; the International Union, United
Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America; the Sheet
Metal Workers’ International Association; and the International Brotherhood of
Other workers who
repair and service motor vehicles include automotive body and related repairers,
diesel service technicians and mechanics, and small engine mechanics.
Sources of Additional Information
more details about work opportunities, contact local automobile dealers and repair
shops or local offices of the State employment service. The State employment service
also may have information about training programs.
list of certified automotive service technician training programs can be obtained
Automotive Technicians Education Foundation, 101 Blue Seal Dr., SE., Suite 101,
Leesburg, VA 20175. Internet: http://www.natef.org/
For a directory
of accredited private trade and technical schools that offer programs in automotive
service technician training, contact:
Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology, 2101 Wilson Blvd., Suite
302, Arlington, VA 22201. Internet: http://www.accsct.org/
on automobile manufacturer-sponsored programs in automotive service technology
can be obtained from:
Youth Educational Systems (AYES), 100 W. Big Beaver, Suite 300, Troy, MI 48084.
on how to become a certified automotive service technician is available from:
National Institute for
Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), 101 Blue Seal Dr. SE., Suite 101, Leesburg,
VA 20175. Internet: http://www.asecert.org/
general information about a career as an automotive service technician, contact:
National Automobile Dealers
Association, 8400 Westpark Dr., McLean, VA 22102. Internet: http://www.nada.org/