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Investing in an Automotive Trade School Education

Jul 14, 2022 ·
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Going to automotive trade school is a great way to prepare for a career as an automotive technician. But is it worth the investment?

It all depends on the future you envision for yourself.

To help you decide, we’ve detailed what a career as an automotive technician entails plus the training, cost and time it takes to get there. Read on to see how your investment can result in an exciting future.

What Do Automotive Technicians Do? The Definition of a Technician

A technician is defined as “a person who is trained or skilled in the technicalities of a subject.” Automotive technicians specialize in the technology needed to inspect, diagnose, repair and maintain motor vehicles.

As an automotive tech, your day-to-day life revolves around cars and the components that make them run. You may find yourself:

  • Using computerized diagnostic equipment to identify a problem
  • Performing preventative maintenance like oil changes and wheel alignments
  • Explaining mechanical issues to customers and keeping them in the loop on repairs
  • Installing systems that comply with emissions, safety and performance standards
  • Coordinating with suppliers to manage inventory

You might be wondering, “Is an automotive tech the same as an auto mechanic?” It’s a commonly debated topic and, depending on whom you ask, you’ll hear different opinions.

Those who believe there’s a distinction tend to see a key difference: Mechanics specialize in more hands-on work, like changing oil and brake pads. Automotive technicians do this as well, but they also deal more with electrical diagnosis and identification of drivability complaints.

Why Train to Become an Automotive Technician?

If you’re passionate about cars, love working with your hands, and want industry-specific training that could help you start a career sooner than a traditional four-year education, attending automotive trade school to train to become an automotive tech could be a great option.

Training to become an automotive technician could lead to a variety of exciting jobs where you can earn a good salary and be valued for your skills.1 If you recognize any of these qualities in yourself, you might just find it to be a good path:

  • Love of hands-on work
  • Drive to solve problems
  • Motivation to learn
  • Adaptability to ever-changing technology
  • Attention to detail

Various Career Paths for Automotive Technicians

Whether you want to specialize in parts or work your way up to a service manager role, trained automotive technicians have the opportunity to work in a variety of industries.

Automotive technicians usually work in auto repair shops or dealerships. Here are some of the job titles your training could lead to:

  • Auto technician
  • Quick service technician
  • Mobile technician service advisor
  • Field service technician
  • Parts associate

Automotive technicians aren’t limited to working under the hood, either. They may be able to advance to service writer or service manager positions, or even become an automotive instructor at a trade school like Universal Technical Institute (UTI). Some take the entrepreneurial path and start businesses of their own. Some have even ended up in the railroad industry.

Automotive Technician Salary

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for automotive service technicians and mechanics in the United States was $44,050 in May 2020.25 This means half of automotive technicians earned more and half earned less.

Salary depends on several factors, including experience, employer, demand and cost of living in the area. To get a better idea of what technicians are earning, check out our auto technician salary guide, ranked by state.

Important Factors to Consider

The right automotive trade school could help open doors to an exciting future.

High school graduates typically need formal automotive technician education to become fully qualified, according to the BLS. The best preparation is a trade school or postsecondary education program.

Length of Schooling

Automotive technicians typically complete trade school in less than two years. Programs can last anywhere from six months to a year and provide intensive career preparation through classroom instruction and hands-on learning, according to the BLS.

By attending a school like UTI, you can get trained for the industry in less than a year.7 To learn more, check out this blog on how long it takes to become an auto technician.

Cost

Tuition varies from program to program. At UTI, there are grants and scholarships available, as well as other financial aid options, to help students pay for automotive technician school.10

Certification for Automotive Technicians

Certification from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) is the standard credential for service technicians.

To become certified, technicians must have at least two years of experience (or relevant schooling and one year of experience) and pass exams. As a UTI graduate, you’ll be prepared to complete ASE examinations and can substitute your training for one of the two years of work experience required to become ASE certified.16

Benefits of Training to Become an Automotive Technician

Here are some of the key benefits automotive technicians can expect in their careers:

  • Techs are in demand: With more than 276 million vehicles on the road in the United States,13 there’s a need for auto technicians. Every day, people drive their cars to work and wherever they need to go, and vehicles are used to transport essential goods that keep our economy moving. Auto techs play a critical role in keeping these vehicles on the road and, quite literally, in keeping our world moving.
  • Variety in your workday: Rather than being stuck behind a desk all day, auto technicians are constantly on the move, meeting with customers and doing all kinds of maintenance and repair tasks. No two days are the same in this job!
  • Gain transferrable skills: The skills possessed by auto technicians are needed in a variety of industries. Whether you decide to relocate and need a new job or take a different avenue in the transportation industry, you’re likely to find a career where you can apply your skills.1
  • Find fulfillment: Many auto technicians find a great sense of satisfaction in their work. Being able to complete challenging repairs can be fulfilling, and being able to please customers and get them safely back on the road is priceless.

Train to Become a Technician at UTI

UTI’s Automotive Technology program is designed to give students the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in the industry. In just 51 weeks,7 you can learn to diagnose, maintain and repair vehicles like a true automotive professional.

Program courses cover a variety of topics, including:

  • Automotive Engines Service & Repair
  • Professional Automotive Service Writing
  • Automotive Powertrains & Transmissions
  • Vehicle Steering and Suspension Service and Repair
  • Vehicle Brake Systems
  • Vehicle Electronic Systems and Technology
  • Automotive Climate Control Systems and Repair
  • Hybrid Vehicle System Maintenance

With UTI’s industry-aligned curriculum and relationships with top manufacturers, you can train for an exciting future. To learn more, visit our Automotive Technology program page and request more information today.

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1) UTI is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary.

2) For program outcome information and other disclosures, visit www.uti.edu/disclosures.

7) Some programs may require longer than one year to complete.

10) Financial aid, scholarships and grants are available to those who qualify. Awards vary due to specific conditions, criteria and state.

13) Federal Highway Administration, Office of Highway Policy Information, Highway Statistics 2019, number of state motor vehicle registrations, https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/statistics/2019/mv1.cfm

25) UTI’s Automotive Technology program prepares graduates for entry-level positions using the provided training, primarily as automotive technicians. Estimated annual salary is for Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics as published in the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ May 2020 Occupational Employment and Wages. Entry-level salaries are lower for UTI graduates. UTI is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary. UTI graduates’ achievements may vary. Individual circumstances and wages depend on economic factors, personal credentials, work experience, industry certifications, the location of the employer, and their compensation programs. Some UTI graduates get jobs within their field of study in positions other than as an automotive technician, such as service writer, smog inspector, and parts associate. Salary information for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: The average annual entry-level salary range for persons employed as Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics (49-3023) in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is $32,140 to $53,430 (Massachusetts Labor and Workforce Development, May 2020 data https://lmi.dua.eol.mass.gov/lmi/OccupationalEmploymentAndWageSpecificOccupations#). Salary information for North Carolina: The U.S. Department of Labor estimates the hourly median wage for skilled automotive technicians in North Carolina is $20.59 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, May 2020 Occupational Employment and Wages, Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics). The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not publish entry-level salary data. However, the 25th and 10th percentiles of hourly earnings in North Carolina are $14.55 and $11.27, respectively.

Universal Technical Institute of Illinois, Inc. is approved by the Division of Private Business and Vocational Schools of the Illinois Board of Higher Education.

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