What Is the Average Salary for Entry-Level Auto Tech Jobs?

Auto technicians work on diagnosing and repairing the mechanical problems in motor vehicles. Read on to find out more about the average salary you can expect as a beginning auto tech. Schools offering Automobile Repair degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Average Salary Overview

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that auto techs and mechanics at all experience levels made an average salary of $39,060 as of May 2012 (www.bls.gov). The median salary for all these workers was $36,610. When you are first starting out as an entry-level employee, you can expect your location, employer and education to dictate your starting salary. PayScale.com reported that entry-level auto techs and mechanics in the 10th-90th percentile earned between $18,638 and $43,286 in February 2014.

Salaries by Employer

According to the BLS, auto techs and mechanics most often worked for auto repair and maintenance companies and auto dealers in May 2012. These employers paid average wages of $35,360 and $43,250, respectively. Auto parts, accessories and tire stores, however, paid a lower average wage of $33,830. If you want to work in the industry with the best pay potential, the BLS reported that the aerospace product and parts manufacturing industry paid auto techs and mechanics an average wage of $69,530.

Salaries by Location

The BLS reported that the highest concentration of auto tech and mechanic jobs was found in Vermont, New Hampshire, Montana, West Virginia and Pennsylvania in May 2012. Average salaries in these locations ranged from $30,610-$39,880. Alaska and the District of Columbia offer the highest average wages of $51,020 and $47,900, respectively. Other locations with the best average pay were Hawaii ($44,420), New Jersey ($43,870) and California ($43,710). The lowest average earnings were between $20,830 and $36,110. Auto techs and mechanics earning these wages worked in states that included Montana, Maine, Ohio, Louisiana and Tennessee.

Salaries by Specialization

You may have better paying employment opportunities available if you have specialized in one or more type of vehicle or repair. For example, PayScale.com reported that auto techs in the 10th-90th percentile who specialized in electronic troubleshooting earned from $26,379-$61,830 in February 2014. In contrast, those who specialized in systems troubleshooting earned from $25,259-$61,169. Your salary is more likely to be on the lower end of these figures when you are first starting out in the field. You may also earn slightly more if you branch out and learn more than one kind of repair.

Education and Certification

The BLS reports that many employers view vocational education as the best way to prepare for entry-level jobs as an auto technician. Colleges and vocational schools offering associate degrees or certificates in auto repair may give you hands-on training as part of the educational experience. When you first start your career as an auto tech, you will likely need to spend some time with experienced technicians to learn how to perform more complicated repairs. These positions usually pay less than if you were a fully certified automotive technician.

If you already have experience in automotive technology or you have completed a degree, certification by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) can also increase your employment opportunities and possible pay (www.ase.com). In order to qualify for certification, you must have at least two years of working experience. According to the ASE, you may also substitute one of the required years of experience with a formal training program in automotive repair.

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