Automotive Technician Training Guide

Automotive Technician Training

Gone are the days where a “mechanic” was seen as an individual with little formal knowledge. Matter of fact, even the term “mechanic” is not accurate anymore. The right term should be “automotive service technician” and there is a good reason for that.

During the past 20 years, the automotive industry has evolved at an unprecedented pace. Nowadays, the mix of skills and knowledge required to be considered a “competent” automotive technician includes:

  • Customer service
  • Complex problem solving
  • Machines and tools
  • Equipment maintenance
  • Repairing proficiency
  • Ability to work with a variety of tools
  • Diagnostics and troubleshooting proficiency
  • Good judgment and decision making
  • Work ethics
  • Computers, electricity, and electronics
  • Administration and management
  • Mathematics, physics, and chemistry
  • Proficiency reading schematics and circuit diagrams
  • Competence in the use of accounting software

The above is only a partial list since the required skills continue to change constantly. You may wonder, why is it necessary to have knowledge in so many areas? 

Think of high-performance vehicles such as the Tesla Roadster. The Roadster can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just 1.9 seconds. Can you imagine what is required to achieve that level of performance? Cutting-edge technology in all areas, mechanical parts, materials, software, advanced electronics and more.

Top-notch technology is not limited to supercars. As time passes manufacturers introduce more and more features aimed at enhancing fuel economy, security, and comfort. The automotive technician career is passing through a “Golden Era” and you can be part of it.

If you love cars, gadgets, computers, and have dexterity with hand tools then you should consider joining the automotive repair industry as an automotive technician. The future holds many opportunities for those willing to learn this extraordinary career.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an automotive service technician?

An automotive service technician is an individual who possesses the manual skill and appropriate level of knowledge in a variety of disciplines to inspect, diagnose, repair and maintain vehicles ranging from compact cars to large transports.

How long does it take to complete an auto technician program?

Vocational schools and institutions provide diploma programs that can take from one to two years to complete. Colleges and universities that aside from automotive technician degree programs also offer general education courses, could take up to four years to complete.

What is the average automotive technician hourly rate?

The hourly rate of an automotive technician depends on several factors such as: 

  • Relevant job experience
  • Level of education (certificate, associate degree, bachelor degree, master degree)
  • Who you report to
  • Number of people you manage
  • The area where you live

From the aspects mentioned above, arguably the most important one is your level of education. For your reference depending on the career path you choose, you may expect the following yearly salary:

  • Automotive technician I: $34,517 to $45,306 ($16.70/hr – $22.17/hr)
  • Automotive technician II: $43,700 to $55,608 ($21.40/hr – $27.20/hr)
  • Automotive technician III: $51,791 to $65,241 ($25.34/hr – $32/hr)
  • Mechanical Maintenance Supervisor: $66,590 to $91,954 ($32.60/hr – $45/hr)

NOTE: The salaries shown above do not include annual incentives or other compensations, only the base salary. Rates are calculated in USD as of October 30, 2019. The calculation is made as an average across the United States. Click here for up to date rates.

What career path options are available as an automotive technician? 

Depending on the college/school you may have several options for your career path. Below is an example of the possible alternatives:

Once you complete Automotive Mechanic I, you can choose to study:

– Automotive Mechanic II

– Diesel Mechanic, Sr.

– Farm Equipment Mechanic

– Mechanic Technician III

Once you complete Automotive Mechanic II, you can choose to study:

– Automotive Mechanic III

– Diesel Mechanic Supervisor

– Mechanical Maintenance Supervisor

Once you complete Automotive Mechanic III, you can choose to study:

– Diesel Mechanic Supervisor

– Mechanical Maintenance Supervisor

As you can see, there is some overlap between career paths. Once again, take into account that different institutions may use different naming conventions and/or offer additional career opportunities (such as electric car specialist). 

It is worth mentioning that automotive certifications can also offer additional career paths. For more information please read “Is certification necessary to becoming an automotive service technician?”.

It is necessary to have higher education to become an auto technician?

The short answer is, yes, it’s highly advisable to have post-secondary education; specifically from a certified automotive repair training program. First and foremost, most employers will ask you higher education as a prerequisite. However, the best reason to undertake a postsecondary program is not because higher education is a prerequisite, but for your own interest. If you have not read the previous question “What is the average automotive technician hourly rate?” then you should do it. Your level of education has a huge impact on your salary as an automotive technician.

What will I learn at an automotive technician institution?

The answer to that question will depend on each school/institution programs. For your reference, programs aimed at new students usually start teaching you:

  • Basic automotive mechanics
  • Occupational safety and health
  • Mathematics, physics, and chemistry
  • Logic and problem solving
  • Tools and equipment theory and manipulation

Depending on the institution the program may include hand-on apprenticeship to apply theoretical concepts in a real-world environment.

What is the difference between an auto technician and an auto body repair technician?

In simple terms, you can think of auto technicians as responsible for inspecting, diagnosing, repairing and performing maintenance of inner parts (engine, transmission, cabin electronics, etc) while auto body repair technicians tackle cosmetic aspects and repairs in the vehicle body (paintless dent repairs, collision repair, frame repair, glass replacement, paint, auto detailing, and more).

Is certification necessary to becoming an automotive service technician?

While certification is not a legal requirement, it will certainly assist you in obtaining better jobs and earn a higher salary. 

Yet, the most significant aspect of certifications has to do with the additional career paths options they offer. For instance, the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) offers multiple certification programs in almost every single aspect of the automotive repair industry.

What does an automotive technician do?

Automotive service technicians work involves inspecting, diagnosing, repairing and performing preventive maintenance in automotive systems such as:

  • Engine Fuel Injection system
  • Automatic Transmission/Transaxle
  • Manual Drive Train and Axles
  • Suspension and Steering
  • Brakes and Anti-Lock systems (ABS)
  • Electrical/Electronic Systems
  • Heating and Air Conditioning HVAC
  • Engine Performance

How can I find automotive service technician schools in my area?

Glad you asked. The fine folks over at ASE have a comprehensive search tool for just this situation.