Becoming an Auto Technician: Where, Why and How
Being an auto technician requires the know-how of mechanics, dexterity, and not much formal education. Considering the 268.8 million cars registered in 2016 in the U.S. alone as Statista reports, the number of open auto tech jobs is bigger than ever. Pay is competitive, and the process of recruitment is rather streamlined.
Definition of The Job
An auto tech repairs vehicles when a part of the machinery fails. Before auto techs dealt exclusively with the mechanics of a vehicle, but nowadays being an auto tech means you can fix the complex computer parts within the machinery.
Despite a narrow-sounding field of operation, as an auto tech, you have a plethora of position to choose from, from working in a garage to owning your own dealership. The pay is also satisfying, with entry-level auto techs earning more than the minimum wage. Additionally, the paychecks, even for interns, come in quite quickly since an auto repair certificate can be obtained in as little as six months. Learning on the job means you start working and earning right away.
How to Become One?
There are many ways you can become one. Since college education is not a requirement, you can begin as early as high school. There you can take auto tech classes, or take courses at trade schools as a senior to get a head start.
In terms of education, any appropriate certificate is fine. You can get the auto tech programs and earn a certificate, or alternatively, you can commit to a two-year college degree or a full bachelor’s degree if you have your eye on a higher up managerial position later on. You can also forgo all of this and look into internship\training programs with your local dealerships and manufacturers. Apprenticeships in local car shops and dealerships last between 2 to 5 years, but you earn a wage from day one.
To broaden the scope of your knowledge and your job pool, you can always apply for training to achieve specialty certifications. You can choose to specialize in only one aspect of a vehicle and have that be your only job. If that is too narrow, but you still want specialization, you can even specialize in the repair of a specific model of a vehicle. The better a specialist you are in your field, the more money you earn.
Finally, it would be an excellent investment to get the ASE license. The exam is an eight-part one, and to be eligible, you have to have one year of experience or completed a two-year program. Once that is done, the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence will issue you a license.
It depends on your position and your chosen field, but according to BLS, in 2017, auto technicians earned $39,550 on average.
Divided by industry, it looks like this:
- Dealerships – $43,180 per year.
- Parts and accessories retailers – $33,640 per year.
- Repair shops – $37,420 per year.
Once you learn the basics, you can decide on a specialization, and how narrow you want it to be. You can be employed as an auto machinist, a service advisor, a paint technician, and many more.