Engine Technician: Job Description, Salary & Training

What does it take to become an engine technician? Read on to learn about career options, desired qualifications, and training requirements, as well as potential salaries and job growth stats. Schools offering Machining & Manufacturing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Information At a Glance

Engine technician is an umbrella term for professionals who assess, service, and repair engines inside vehicles of varying sizes. Possessing dexterity and a detail oriented attitude is very crucial to succeed in this job. Check out the following table for more details.

Automotive Service Technicians & Mechanics Diesel Service Technicians & MechanicsSmall Engine Mechanics
Common Education Postsecondary nondegree awardHigh school diploma or equivalentPostsecondary nondegree award
Training Required Short-term on-the-job trainingLong-term on-the-job trainingLong-term on-the-job training
Licensure/Certification RequiredRecommendedRecommended
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 6%*9%*5%*
Median Annual Salary (2018) $40,710*$47,350*$37,060*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is An Engine Technician?

An engine technician is a professional who is engaged in inspecting, maintaining, and restoring engines of all types of vehicles including motorcycles, cars, buses, trucks and even, boats. Daily tasks include examining engines and their parts to ensure they are working properly, performing repair tasks according to the manufacturers' and customers' specifications, test driving vehicles to ensure the engine is working properly, and keeping records of work performed and parts used. The technicians also possess customer service skills as a large sum of their income depends on repeat clients.

In your career as an engine technician, you can choose to work on engines of car and light trucks as an automotive service technician or you can choose to work on diesel engines of overhaul buses and trucks as a diesel service technician or choose to work on motorized engines of motorcycles and motorboats as a small engine mechanic.

What Educational, Training, and Certification Requirements Are There?

Automotive service technicians are required to attend some kind of vocational or post-secondary course related to automotive service technology. These courses can last anything between 6 months to 1 year and include classroom instruction and hands-on training. On the other hand, diesel service and small engine mechanics can begin working as a full-time technician after obtaining a high school education. However, many employers prefer technicians who have completed a post-secondary training program related to diesel engine repair and motorcycle repair respectively.

All engine technicians learn and finesse their trade through on-the-job training by working under an experienced professional. Automotive service technicians generally require little on-the-job training as they receive training during their post-secondary course. Whereas, diesel service and small engine mechanics' on-the-job training can last up to 3 years before achieving competency.

Industry certification is a requirement for automotive service technicians due to working with refrigerants. Although certification for diesel engine and small engine mechanics is not mandatory, it is highly recommended. Certification demonstrates technicians competence and experience which results in higher pay. To obtain the ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) certification, technicians need to have at least 2 years of work experience (or 1 year of work experience plus relevant schooling) and clear an examination.

Where Might I Work?

Most engine technicians work in well-lit and well-ventilated repair workshops, dealerships or auto parts stores. It can get noisy sometimes, especially for diesel engine technicians who work with heavy parts and tools. Sometimes, technicians, especially small engine mechanics, make onsite repair calls. Most technicians work full time, and working overtime is common as well. Some technicians are self-employed and run their own shops.

What Might I Earn?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in 2018, diesel engine technicians and mechanics earned the highest median annual salary at $47,350 followed by automotive service technicians and mechanics at $40,710 and small engine mechanics at $37,060. The estimated job growth between 2016-26 showed similar results with diesel engine technicians leading at 9% followed by automotive service technicians and small engine mechanics at 6% and 5% respectively. Technicians with post-secondary education will usually have a better chance of getting hired and may be paid a higher salary.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Alternative related careers include working with even larger and heavyweight machinery as a heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technician. The job includes inspecting, maintaining, and repairing heavyweight machinery and vehicles used in construction, farming, railways and so on. A career in automotive body and glass repair is also a very similar career to engine technician. Automotive body and glass repairers assemble, restore, and replace vehicles' bodies and other components such as windshields and window glass.

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