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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.

Important Questions to Ask a Potential Employer

Automotive Technician JobsYour online search for automotive jobs has found you a few to apply for, but that’s not the end of your task.

When you get an interview, it’s a chance to sell yourself as an employee, and for the employer to sell the merits of working for their company. They ask questions, and you answer. That’s the first part of the formula, and then they flip it around with the typical “Do you have any questions for us?”

You need to answer affirmatively. If you don’t, it will appear that you’re not truly interested in the job or you haven’t taken time to prepare. You need to ready yourself for an interview by thinking about what the employer will ask and how to answer. You also have to consider what you would like to know about the company and how those questions will show you are engaged and eager to work with them.

As a way to help you get started, our team at Automotive Jobs Inc. has come up with a few important questions you can ask during an interview and ones you shouldn’t ask.

We’ll start with the no-nos. Don’t ask about benefits, salary, vacations, or anything similar. This information will be covered in a job offer.

You should ask:

  • What should I expect during my first week?
  • What equipment do you have in the shop?
  • Do I need to supply my own tools?
  • What training is offered to keep pace with the industry?

The Benefits of Using a Job Board

Automotive Employment Opportunities You can spend your time searching endlessly across the internet for sites that post jobs and then sorting through those lists to narrow down your choices. It sounds like a very time-consuming task, and it is. If you’re interested in a career in a certain field you need to refine your search options.

There is not much point, or much help, in searching for ‘job vacancies’ when what you are really searching for is ‘automotive technician job vacancies’ or something similar. Such a search may prove helpful, but it’s still a broad approach when applied online.

Using a job board is an effective solution to the problem of a very wide search. It helps define the choices to the focus of the industry supported by the board. Not only that, reputable and convenient boards such as ours at Automotive Jobs Inc. allow you to create a profile and set up job alerts. Some boards also have a discussion feature that lets you share tips with fellow job seekers or ask for help. It’s a one-stop-shopping approach which saves you plenty of time and effort.

For an effective way to find job openings that appeal to you, and to connect with potential employers, an automotive employment opportunities job board is your best friend.

auto mechanic working under the hood of a car

Tips for Finding a Career in the Automotive Industry

As the gig economy becomes a more and more popular model for many businesses, it can be difficult to find true careers in the automotive industry. Part-time and as-needed mechanics are everywhere, but many of them never seem to progress to a more stable situation. If you want something more, here are a few ways to go about seeking a dependable career:

Make Your Intentions Clear — Many people with valuable skills end up in precarious positions because they simply never tell employers that they’re looking for a career opportunity. While it’s great to let your work speak for itself, sometimes direct communication is all it takes to open up a world of possibility.

Network Where Possible — If you know others who have found great jobs, don’t be afraid to follow their lead or discuss your own goals. They might be able to point you to opportunities you won’t find any other way or provide invaluable references.

Search on automotivejobs.com — Often, the best way to find a great job is to have all your options in one place. On automotivejobs.com, you can compare tons of openings and filter according to what you’re looking for, all from the comfort of your home.

job interview

Job Interview Tips for Auto Mechanics

Landing that dream job in the auto industry is all about your interview. Whether you’re an experienced mechanic or a recently-trained industry newcomer, knowing how to impress prospective employers is just as important as your skill and expertise. Here are a few handy tips to focus on when you apply for automotive technician jobs:

Scope Out Your Worksite — Many employers place a high value on candidates who seem like a good match for their shop’s environment. If you have time to visit before your interview, pay attention to the general attitude, style of dress, and kind of image present at the business. This can help you take the right tone in your interview, and also clue you in if there are any red flags to look out for.

Value Your Own Needs — Success in the auto industry depends on your ability to conduct yourself as a professional. That includes valuing your own time and effort. Avoid being brash or setting unrealistic expectations, but don’t be afraid to show confidence and ask questions that matter to your future employee experience. A good boss wants team members who are engaged and invested, not ones looking for just any paycheck.

Bring Extra Copies of Your Resume — Preparation is a virtue in any field, and having an extra copy of your resume lets you hand one to your interviewer and still have a handy list of accomplishments and skills for your own reference as you talk.

automotive manufacturing

Automotive Manufacturing Jobs are in High Demand

When you pick your career path, you want something with plenty of opportunities and a secure demand that gives you more power to decide your future. Today, one of your best options is the multitude of auto manufacturing jobs meeting the modern need for reliable vehicles in an endless range of makes, models, and colors. With more and more drivers joining the roadways and exciting new developments in electric cars, self-driving AI, and more, manufacturing is sure to stay a high-value career path.

So, how can you take advantage of this demand? Here are a few tips:

Shop Around When Seeking Employment — More demand means more power to choose where you work. Compare benefits, environments, and other influencing factors and find the right match for your skills and goals.

Seek Forward-Looking Operations — As future technologies change the face of driving, the best careers will position you to stay competitive in the long run. Factories that already produce popular car models with electric and fuel-efficient technology are great choices for your development.

Develop Your Skillset — Whether you’re just starting out your career or want to get back into automotive manufacturing after leaving the industry, the added demand in the field means plenty of chances to learn.

technician painting bumper

Find Jobs in the Automotive Industry

Whether you have experience or want to make a change in your life, working with vehicles is a great way to find stable employment in one of the world’s largest industries. Even so, the best mechanics can find it difficult to identify automotive employment opportunities that properly respect their skills and dedication. If you want to start or expand your career, here are some of the best indicators of a solid job:

High-Performance Environments — Good places to work deliver better results for customers, and that means a positive reputation that keeps projects coming in. Look for employers who run busy environments and hire based on a need for reliable help.

Effective Staffing — While it’s great to have a steady stream of work, you don’t want to have to rush every repair or service appointment because of understaffing. You also don’t want an overly competitive environment because of over-hiring. Ask about a potential employer’s staffing strategy.

Low Turnover — Like any job, automotive work should come with some turnover, but too much is likely a sign of poor management. If online reviews or other sources indicate that people constantly quit at the place you’re considering employment, it might be best to reconsider. Even if you’re looking for a foot in the door, remember that not every job is necessarily in the right building.