Course Description

Automotive Technician

Also Called: Automobile Mechanic, Automotive Service Technician

Job Description: Automotive technicians use their knowledge of mathematics, technology, and electronics as well as complex diagnostic tools and computer software to analyze and repair vehicle problems and to perform general evaluation and maintenance tasks. Service technicians employ a variety of hand and power tools (such as pneumatic wrenches, and grinding machines) to fix, replace, or tweak malfunctioning parts. Advancements in the electric and technical components of automobiles and the introduction of alternate-fuel technologies make this a constantly evolving profession.

Working Environment: Conditions can vary depending on area of specialization and workload. For example, transmission technicians or brake repairers may need to get their hands dirty, tinkering around inside the engine or undercarriage; those who specialize in the ECU (the car's computer "mainframe") may be able to make only minor, computerized adjustments. The average workweek for repair shop auto technicians is 40 hours, but night or weekend work is sometimes required to meet customer deadlines. In addition, some aftermarket service technicians do private jobs on the side to boost their income. (See salary figures below.)

Education and Training Requirements: In past years, automotive maintenance and repair skills could be learned through three to four years of apprenticeship. However, given the great variety of vehicles on the road today, increasingly complex technical components of vehicles, and evolving alternative-fuel technologies, post-secondary training is now critical to finding work in the automobile services industry.

The best training programs are usually found at vocational schools such as the Hannibal Career & Technical Center. Vehicle repair and technology training at our vocational school requires students to take two years of training in our automotive program. Our program focuses primarily on hands-on training but we do incorporate textbook learning and technical math into your learning experience.

Certification and Manufacturers Training: The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence offers experienced technicians the chance to get nationally certified in various areas of specialization, such as drive trains, exhaust systems, suspension and steering, brakes, or body systems. Those technicians with at least two years of work experience or one year at technical school and one year on the job can opt for the exams. Certification can often lead to increased pay and better job opportunities. (See the ASE section of this website for more details.)

Salary Range:
Entry Level Pay: $21,000-32,000
Mid-Range Pay: $32,000-55,000
Experienced Pay: $43,000-72,000
Top Level Pay (Master Mechanic): $58,000-108,000

Outlook: Good to Excellent. The need for qualified technicians will be driven by continued growth in the number of cars and the introduction of more complex technologies and components. The outlook for long-term job security is also positive, as the automotive repair industry has historically been affected very little by general economic trends and has been able to survive economic downturns.

High-Growth Industry: With new vehicles coming to the sales market every year the demand for automobile technicians has increased progressively over the years. In addition, more focus will be placed on continuing education and retraining of experienced technicians to keep up with changing technologies and the demands of industries.

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