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 $39,980 as of May 2014 (www.bls.gov). The median salary for all these workers was $37,120. 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 $19,564 and $51,356 in September 2015.

Important Facts About This Occupation

Job Outlook (2014-2024) 5% growth (for all automotive service technicians and mechanics)
Licensure Technicians who handle refrigerants must become licensed by passing a test by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Key Skills Customer-service, troubleshooting, and mechanical skills; attention to detail and dexterity
Work Environment Automobile repair shops
Similar Occupations Automotive body and glass repairer, diesel service technician, diesel service mechanic, small engine mechanic

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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 2014. These employers paid average wages of $37,060 and $44,000, respectively. Auto parts, accessories and tire stores, however, paid a lower average wage of $34,580. If you want to work in the industry with the best pay potential, the BLS reported that the natural gas distribution industry paid auto techs and mechanics an average wage of $66,280.

Salaries by Location

The BLS reported that the highest concentration of auto tech and mechanic jobs was found in West Virginia, Montana, Maine, Missouri and Vermont in May 2014. Average salaries in these locations ranged from $31,370-$38,690. The District of Columbia and Alaska offered the highest average wages of $52,560 and $52,050, respectively. Other locations with the best average pay were New Jersey ($46,240), Massachusetts ($45,250) and Maryland ($44,950). The lowest average earnings were between $20,250 and $37,140. Auto techs and mechanics earning these wages worked in states that included South Dakota, Maine, Ohio, Louisiana and Kentucky.

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 $27,607-$79,335 in September 2015. In contrast, those who specialized in systems troubleshooting earned from $25,257-$72,346. 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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