5 Steps to Becoming an Auto Maintenance Technician

Research what it takes to become an auto maintenance technician. Learn about the training process, certification options, job outlook and salary information to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Automobile Repair degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is an Auto Maintenance Technician?

Auto maintenance technicians perform services on various automobiles. Common daily tasks include changing oil or other fluids, testing the proper function of various components and working on tires. They also replace batteries, brake shoes and pads, electrical sensors or other parts that become worn with frequent use. With modern advances in automotive technology, they often use computerized diagnostic equipment alongside traditional paper technical manuals and procedural checklists. Repeated business is often conditional on technicians' ability to provide excellent customer service, which often entails explaining automotive problems. The following table provides detailed information for this career:

Education Required Vocational training program
Education Field of Study Automotive technology, automotive service technology
Key Skills Customer service, detail-oriented, problem-solving, mechanical
Certification Voluntary certification through the ASE
Job Growth (2018-2028) -1%*
Median Salary (2018) $40,710*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is an Auto Maintenance Technician?

An auto maintenance technician, also called an automotive service technician, repairs and helps preserve the mechanical operations of non-diesel automobiles such as cars, vans, sports utility vehicles and light trucks. As an auto maintenance technician, you would perform diagnostic testing to help identify problems and correct them. You would also perform routine maintenance on vehicles.

Step 1: Get Trained

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that employers prefer hiring applicants who have completed formal training through vocational programs in automotive technology, automotive service technology and auto technician (www.bls.gov). You can receive this training at vocational and trade schools and at community colleges. These programs may lead to a certificate, diploma or an associate's degree. You may also participate in comparable programs available through Automotive Youth Educational Systems (AYES) program, which are advanced high school programs certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence.

Depending on your program, you may receive classroom instruction and supervised field experience on topics such as engine management systems, drivability diagnostics, chassis and drivetrain systems. Formal training programs may last from six month to two years.

Step 2: Consider Certification

Certification is not required, but it is a highly recommended credential preferred by employers. The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence offers credentialing through their Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification program. ASE certification is offered in various specializations. Certification prerequisites include work experience and training. You also need to pass an examination offered at nationwide test centers or through computer-based testing.

Step 3: Acquire Work Experience

As an auto maintenance technician, you may work for car dealerships, automotive service and repair centers, gas stations and government agencies. You may be assigned to a specific type of service or perform a range of services, including tune-ups, air-conditioning repairs, oil changes, brake repairs and transmission work. Many technicians advance to management positions, open their own business or become industry educators. As of May 2015, the annual median salary for an auto service technician was $37,850, according to the BLS.

Step 4: Join a Trade Association

By joining a trade association, you gain access to industry updates and professional networking opportunities. The Automotive Service Association is one of the many trade associations that offer membership.

Step 5: Stay Current

Staying informed about industry technologies and guidelines helps you maintain a high level of training and it prepares you for advancement opportunities. Continuing education may be provided through your employer or through trade associations.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Some of the careers related to auto maintenance technician include automotive body and glass repairer, diesel service technician, heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technician and small engine mechanic. Automotive body and glass repairers still work with automobiles, but rather than working on the engine, they repair automotive bodies, frames and windows. Diesel service technicians specialize in the diesel engines that may be found on large personal vehicles and commercial vehicles. Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians specialize in maintaining and repairing larger industrial vehicles and equipment. Small engine mechanics, on the other hand, work on the motors that run lawn equipment, motorboats, motorcycles and other types of smaller equipment and vehicles.

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