Vehicle Emissions Maintenance

Emissions maintenance technicians keep our vehicles running in compliance with government standards designed to curb pollution. Read about education and training options, job duties and employment outlook for this career.

Is Vehicle Emissions Maintenance for Me?

Career Overview

Emissions maintenance technicians inspect, diagnose and repair emissions systems on vehicles. These workers are specialized automotive service technicians employed at automotive dealerships, vehicle repair shops and service stations. Your duties may include using electronic equipment to find malfunctions in vehicle emissions systems and making needed repairs. You might inspect and service vehicles so that they comply with emissions-control regulations. Alternative job titles in this field include smog technician and emissions specialist.

Required Skills

Career opportunities will be best if you have knowledge of electronics and computers, specialized skills and post-secondary education. An aptitude for math coupled with customer service skills and problem-solving abilities will help you succeed in automotive service.

Salary and Employment Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most automotive service technicians and mechanics earned between $20,920 and $61,210 as of 2013 ( Jobs for automotive service technicians and mechanics are projected to increase 9% between 2012 and 2022, the BLS said.

How Can I Work in Vehicle Emissions Maintenance?

Education Options

A high school diploma or GED is sufficient to gain some entry-level jobs as an automotive service technician, but post-secondary training is recommended. Employers favor hiring candidates with post-secondary schooling and the skills to keep pace with advances in automotive technology. You might receive some on-the-job training even with formal education in the field.

You can gain emissions maintenance instruction through certificate or associate's degree programs in automotive technology, which are typically offered at community colleges and vocational schools. You would study emissions systems with other coursework. You may choose to earn a certificate specializing in automotive emissions, covering the testing, repairing and maintaining vehicle emissions systems.

You could enter the workforce after receiving an automotive emissions certificate or you could keep studying to earn an associate's degree in automotive technology. Some programs are designed to prepare you to meet applicable state licensing requirements for testing and certifying vehicle emissions systems.

Topics of Study

Educational programs may include a combination of hands-on training and classroom instruction in emissions, fuel, ignition and computer systems as well as government emissions regulations. You might learn how to test vehicles to maintain compliance with state emissions laws. Typical coursework could include instruction in fixing and servicing emissions systems.


Employers usually want certified automotive service technicians. The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) offers credentials in various specialized areas. You'll need to meet experience, education and testing requirements to achieve ASE certification.

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