What Does an Auto Mechanic Do?
Auto mechanics, car mechanics, and automotive service technicians are all names for professionals trained to inspect, maintain, and fix various kinds of vehicles. Find out more about what these mechanics do and how to pursue a career in the field.
What Does a Mechanic Do?
An auto mechanic goes by several different names, including car mechanic, automotive technician, and service technician, and is primarily responsible for evaluating, fixing, and maintaining cars and trucks. Some of these mechanics may specialize in a particular area or system of the vehicle, such as a brake technician, transmission rebuilder, or automotive air-conditioning technician. These professionals are usually trained to use a wide range of tools on various kinds of vehicle models. Other job duties may include:
- Evaluating vehicles to identify any issues
- Creating a work plan for each vehicle
- Following procedures and examination lists
- Conducting routine maintenance on vehicles
- Performing any necessary repairs
- Replacing old or broken parts
- Discussing repairs and options with customers
How Much Does a Car Mechanic Make?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), automotive service technicians and mechanics made a median annual salary of $40,710 in May 2018. The same year, the top-paying industry for these professionals was automobile dealers, where automotive service technicians and mechanics made a median salary of $44,280.
What is the Job Outlook for Automotive Technicians?
The BLS also reported that the job outlook for automotive service technicians and mechanics was -1%, which means little or no change, from 2018 to 2028. This little to no change may be due to the balance of the growing number of vehicles and the need for mechanics, with the growing use of new technologies that require less frequent repairs and maintenance.
How to Become an Automotive Mechanic
Students interested in becoming an automotive mechanic generally need to complete some postsecondary education, undergo some on-the-job training, and obtain industry certification. Here we discuss each of these processes in more detail.
There is a wide range of auto mechanic schools available throughout the country, as well as online auto mechanic classes and online auto body repair training programs. Typically, auto mechanics need at least a certificate or diploma in automotive service technology, but associate's and bachelor's degree programs in the field are common.
At the associate's level, students may be able to choose from programs in specific areas, such as diesel technology or high-performance technology. Bachelor's degree programs are also usually more specialized, allowing students to choose from degrees in areas like automotive management or automotive engineering technology. Associate's degree programs are typically available as an Associate of Applied Science (AAS), while bachelor's degree programs are usually available as a Bachelor of Science (BS). Coursework for these degree programs may include topics in:
- Engine diagnosis
- Brake systems
- Engine performance
A postsecondary education program in automotive service technology usually provides enough hands-on experience that most mechanics will not need too much on-the-job training to learn the procedures of their particular employer. However, some employers may hire mechanics who have not completed postsecondary education, and these employees may be required to undergo additional training. Usually, this training is completed under an experienced mechanic or technician.
Most service technicians need to obtain certification from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) to demonstrate competence. ASE offers certification in a wide range of specialization areas, including engine repair, brakes, and heating and air conditioning. Certification usually requires passing an exam and having at least 2 years of work experience. There may be additional certification requirements, depending on a technician's specific job, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certification to handle refrigerant.