Automotive Technician Training

When you need your car repaired or serviced, you take it to an automotive service center and it is the automotive technician who does the work. They diagnose problems with your vehicle, replace parts, and perform routine maintenance tasks to keep your automobile in good condition.

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At a Glance

automotive technician trainingOther Job Titles: Service technician, service tech, auto mechanic
Salary Range/Pay:[1]
$20,810-$60,070; Median $36,610
Education/Training Required:
Completion of a training program through a post-secondary technical or vocational institute
Desired Skills/Aptitude:
Mechanical and technical inclination, attention to detail, communication skills, customer-service oriented,  manual dexterity
Certification/Licensing:
Certification sponsored by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence; Licensing from the Environmental Protection Agency if working with refrigerants
Locations with Best Opportunities[2]:
California, Texas, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania
Employment Outlook:
Expected 17% growth through 2020 (as fast as average)
Opportunities for Advancement:
Further specialization and certification can lead to higher pay

What an Automotive Technician Does

Automotive technicians understand the workings of cars and light trucks and do what is required to keep them running smoothly. Vehicles today have computer boards that monitor and control many internal functions and the technician knows how to get diagnostic readouts from them in order to repair the identified problem component or system. Other tasks and services that these technicians perform include:

  • Inspecting, performing maintenance, and making repairs on ignition systems
  • Changing oil and all filters in a vehicle
  • Maintaining the cooling system
  • Performing maintenance on auto air conditioning systems
  • Checking other fluids in a vehicle such as those for the transmission and brake system
  • Replacing components for on-board auto computer systems
  • Making estimates for repairs to customers
  • Inspect, maintain, and repair brake systems
  • Using a variety of simple to advanced tools for doing the job
  • Inspecting vehicles and recommending maintenance based on findings

The above list is not exhaustive. Today’s automobiles are complex machines and gone are the days when anyone can repair them in their own garages. Thus automotive technicians must learn much more in their training programs than they did in the past.

The Workplace

An automotive technician works in a variety of places that have an association with motor vehicles. The most common place is in automotive repair centers. You can also find them working in car dealerships, service stations, and retail outlets that sell auto parts. Companies that have fleet vehicles may have automobile service technicians on staff. The government employs many technicians because of its massive fleet of vehicles.

Even though technology has made parts replacement more straightforward, being an automotive technician is still a dirty job because of the oils, grease, and engine/undercarriage grime that the technician is exposed to. Sometimes heavy lifting is required and small cuts are common because of the tight engine compartments they must sometimes work in. Following recommended safety mandates is of utmost importance to prevent serious injury in the shop.

Education and Certification

In the past, on-the-job training for automotive technicians was acceptable but that has changed today. Due to the computerized sophistication of today’s automobiles, employers want entry-level technicians to have a formal education program. These are offered through technical and vocational schools and can be either 6-month certificate programs or 2-year associate’s degree programs. On-the-job training is a component of these formal educations programs.

Certification is offered by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence and is required by most employers. This credential typically brings higher pay for the technician and certifies specializations. Technicians can become certified in eight specialty areas such as brakes, suspension, steering, and more.

Licensure is required when a technician will be working with or purchasing refrigerants for automotive air conditioning systems. This licensing is from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Refrigerants used in these air conditioning systems are harmful to the environment if not handled properly thus the requirement from the government for licensing. Training programs to take this licensing examination is offered through the various trade schools or may be employer-sponsored.

 


[1] Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes493023.htm

[2] Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes493023.htm