Auto techs are the backbone of the automotive industry. Without their work, cars would become hazards or simply fall into disrepair. As an automotive mechanic, your job will include performing inspections, basic maintenance, and minor repairs at entry level. Of course, you’ll also be doing oil changes and lubrication work. Finally, workers will assist more skilled technicians.
There are, however, different levels of automotive technicians. Mid-level techs will also be responsible for diagnosing and repairing problems with the engine, transmission, electrical, steering, suspension, brakes, and similar systems. You may also be required to inspect and test new vehicles to write up reports detailing work that the vehicle needs.
Finally, master level technicians have all of the responsibilities of their counterparts with a few more duties. It is their job to make sure that vehicles meet manufacturer specifications for repair work and safety. These techs also need to test drive vehicles as well as test automotive systems with a variety of technical tools like infrared engine analyzers, compression gauges, and computerized diagnostic devices. If you hold this job at a dealership, you’ll also need to perform repairs under warranty to maintain the vehicle’s quality and condition.
Job Qualifications and Compensation
Qualifications for an auto tech vary as much as the duties of each individual level. Employees at what may be considered entry level typically need a couple things beyond simply being 18 or older. These low level technicians are required to have a valid driver’s license, experience with oil changes and minor repair work, and one of several qualifications. You must possess at least one valid and up-to-date ASE (National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence) certification, a degree from an automotive technician training school, or a full year’s experience in a professional garage. As with any other service industry position, you must also be able to communicate clearly and politely with customers.
For the next level, the qualifications are a bit steeper. You’ll need at least three years’ experience in a professional setting, at least three valid ASE certifications, and a valid driver’s license. Additionally, mid-level technicians are expected to be familiar with job-specific equipment such as wheel and tire equipment and diagnostic systems. For certain employers, it will also be a plus to have certain manufacturer certification. For example, Chrysler certification is helpful when applying to work as a mechanic for Mopar. Furthermore, many of these retailers expect you to be working toward a full eight ASE certifications.
At the master level, you will need an average of five years prior experience in a professional environment, to hold a minimum of five out of eight ASE certifications, have knowledge of diagnostic and repair systems, and possess a valid driver’s license. As an additional qualification, you will also be expected to have some instructor-led training in high school, vocational school, college, technical school, or any similarly qualifying mechanical training.
How Much Does an Auto Technician Make?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an auto tech working for an employer in the United States earns an average of $15.30 an hour. This, however, does not take into account the different levels at which automotive mechanics work. Entry level techs are more likely to make $10 an hour whereas master level technicians can earn up to $25 or more per hour. The job can be part-time or full-time, but mid-level and master technician employers are more likely to only be hiring for full-time mechanics. As with any other industry, working full time usually qualifies you for an impressive benefits package. Although this will vary depending on garage or dealership, workers are likely to receive healthcare, disability insurance, a 401(k) plan, and a number of other potential perks.