|What do Automotive Mechanics do?
Automotive service technicians and mechanics fix cars or light
trucks that have broken down. They must be able to figure out
the source of the problem quickly and correctly. They must know
The type of work they do has changed over the years. It used
to be simple mechanical repair. Today it is a high technology
job. Cars and trucks today are run by electronic systems and computers.
The computers tell the automotive service technicians and mechanics
how well the car or truck is performing. To do their job, technicians
must know a lot about how complex parts of the car and truck work
together. They must be able to work with electronic equipment
that tells them what is wrong. They must be able to read and understand
manuals that are computer-based. At the same time they must be
able to use tools they have used in the past.
About half of all automotive service technicians work a 40-hour
week. Almost 30 percent work more than 40 hours a week. Many who
put in long hours work for themselves. Some service shops are
open in the evenings and on weekends.
Most service technicians work indoors in repair shops. Many times
technicians must work with dirty and greasy parts. They often
lift heavy parts and tools. Minor cuts, burns, and bruises are
common. Technicians usually avoid serious accidents when the shop
is kept clean and in order. It is also important that they follow
|How do you get ready to become an Automotive Mechanic?
Automotive technology is becoming more complex. Persons who want
to enter this field should get formal training. You can get this
training either in high school or in a vocational school. Some
people still learn this trade from helping and learning from experienced
Training programs usually use both classroom instruction and
hands-on practice. In some technical and trade schools this training
lasts 6 months to a year. In community colleges this training
usually lasts 2 years. In addition to automotive training, it
also includes other classes like math, English, and computers.
When students finish this type of training they get an associate
degree or certificate.
Automakers and some car dealers sponsor 2-year programs for students
to enter after high school. This leads to an associate degree.
Students in these programs usually spend 6 to 12 weeks going to
class full time. Then they spend the same number of weeks working
for a dealer. While there, they work with someone with lots of
Employers look for people with strong communication and analytical
skills for trainee jobs. Technicians also need good reading, math,
and computer skills. They must study technical manuals and keep
up with the latest in the field. Trainees also must have mechanical
skills and know how cars work.
|How much do Automotive Mechanics make?
The middle half of all automotive service technicians earned
between $10.61 and $19.84 per hour. The lowest-paid 10 percent
earned less than $8.14. The highest-paid 10 percent earned more
Many experienced technicians who work for car dealers and repair
shops are paid a commission. The amount they earn depends on the
labor cost paid by the customer. In this case, earnings per week
depend upon the amount of work completed. Some automotive service
technicians are members of labor unions.
Automotive service technicians and mechanics held about 818,000
jobs in 2002. Most worked in car repair shops, for car dealers,
or for places that sell car parts and supplies. Others worked
in gas stations, home and auto supply stores, and for companies
that rent cars. Still others worked for the government and other
organizations. About 16 percent worked for themselves.
Job opportunities are expected to be very good for persons who
complete a training program. Persons who are good at figuring
out problems should have the best chances. Their training should
include basic electronics skills. Persons without formal automotive
training will likely have to compete for entry-level jobs.
Employment in this field should increase about as fast as the
average through the year 2012. There will be many openings in
this field as experienced technicians move to other jobs or retire.
Most people who enter this field can expect steady work. This
is because changes in economic conditions and in other industries
have little effect on the amount of work.
|Are there other jobs like this?
- Automotive body and related repairers
- Diesel service technicians and mechanics
- Small engine mechanics
Source: Occupational Outlook Handbook -- U.S. Department of
Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics
|Where can you find more information?
More information about automotive service technicians and mechanics
can be found in the Careers