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How Long Does It Take to Become an Automotive Mechanic?

Oct 15, 2018 ·

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Automotive technicians are constantly presented with new challenges to tackle and solutions to find. They get to pursue their passion for vehicles while making customers and clients happy. 

If you’re wondering how long it takes to become an automotive technician, know that you can complete training in less than a year that prepares you for an entry-level position as an automotive technician.7 The actual time it takes to become an automotive technician depends on the school you attend, the courses and specialties you pursue, and the job openings available in the area where you want to work.1

Learn more about what it takes to become an automotive technician and how long mechanic school is in this guide.  Automotive mechanics, also known as automotive technicians, are in demand in the United States, with hundreds of thousands working at dealerships, in auto repair shops and as mobile technicians throughout the country.

Preparing for a Career as an Automotive Mechanic

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employers prefer that automotive technicians have completed a postsecondary program. While formal training is not always required, it often is. In many cases, training can give an applicant an advantage over someone who has not completed any. That’s because automotive technician training shows an employer you already have the skills and knowledge you need to succeed in an entry-level position, which reduces time needed for on-the-job training.

If you know you want a career as an automotive technician, the good news is that programs start every few weeks, so you can dive in when you’re ready. As long as you meet the educational requirements, you can enter into a program with no college experience required.

Is Becoming an Automotive Mechanic the Right Career for You?

Automotive technicians do a lot of problem-solving work. They use computers to diagnose vehicle issues and physically examine cars. They use hand tools and power tools to make repairs and replace parts. In addition to the physical labor, automotive technicians need to be excellent communicators, and provide clear and friendly customer support. 

If these skill sets interest you, you may be a good fit for a career as an automotive technician. Plus, an interest in cars, technology and design is essential.

What Education Do You Need to Become an Automotive Mechanic?

While high school automotive courses provide a good automotive technician background, high school graduates typically need formal automotive technician education to become fully qualified, according to the BLS.

The BLS says the best preparation for entry-level automotive technician positions is a trade school or postsecondary education program. These programs provide students with hands-on practice on vehicles. Students are able to learn in a supportive environment where making mistakes is acceptable so students can gain mastery of automotive skills. This eliminates the need for extensive on-the-job training, although technicians at all stages in their careers continue to learn at work as new automotive technology emerges.

How Long Is Automotive Technician School?

The Automotive Technology program at Universal Technical Institute takes just 51 weeks to complete.4 The UTI program includes courses in subjects like engine service and repair, powertrains and transmissions, and vehicle brake systems. Each course is three weeks long and builds upon previously learned knowledge.

What are the Requirements to Attend Automotive Technician School?

Specific requirements to attend automotive technician school vary across institutions. At UTI, for example, the requirements include students having to be at least 16 years old. They also must have achieved one of the following: graduated high school, received a GED or passed a state-authorized equivalent exam, completed an officially recognized home schooling program, earned a degree at the postsecondary level, or attended a Title IV-eligible program at a postsecondary institution under the Ability to Benefit provision prior to July 1, 2012.

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

Automotive Mechanic Certification Programs

Upon graduating UTI’s core automotive program, graduates receive a diploma, certificate or associate’s degree, depending on the campus, that confirms their completion of the program. Those who choose to pursue Manufacturer-Specific Advanced Training can get additional in-depth training featuring a variety of brands.11

UTI graduates are also prepared to complete Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) examinations and may use their UTI training as one of the two years of experience required to become ASE certified.16 As the most-recognized standard for automotive technician excellence in the industry, ASE certification is highly valued by automotive dealerships and other employers.

How Much Does an Automotive Mechanic Make?

According to the BLS, the the median annual salary for automotive service technicians and mechanics in the United States was $46,880 in May 2021.25 This means half of automotive technicians earned more and half earned less. Keep in mind that salary depends on several factors, including experience, employer, demand and cost of living in the area.

What Are the Job Prospects for Automotive Technicians?

According to the BLS, total auto technician employment is expected to be 743,800 by 2031.47 The BLS also states that the number of vehicles in use is expected to continue to rise, which means more entry-level service technicians will be needed to work on these vehicles.

In 2020, the largest employers of automotive mechanics and service technicians were as follows:

  • Automobile dealers: 33%
  • Automotive mechanical and electrical repair and maintenance: 28%
  • Self-employed workers: 11%
  • Automotive parts, accessories and tire stores: 8%

Automotive service technicians and mechanics are found in every state, with the highest number of employees in 2020 found in California, Texas, Florida, New York and Pennsylvania.

Related Questions

How Much Schooling Does It Take to Be a Master Mechanic?

Master mechanics are ASE certified. Certification requires examinations and at least two years of work experience. With UTI, the core automotive program counts toward one year of experience required for ASE certification. UTI students also learn skills and knowledge that prepare them to pass ASE examinations.

How do you become a collision repair technician?

The BLS reports industry certification is increasingly important to become a collision repair technician. The Collision Repair & Refinish Technology (CRRT) programs at UTI take 51 to 54 weeks to complete. The program was developed with leading industry brands and teaches students how to effectively use the technology, equipment and tools found in the collision repair industry.

UTI CRRT graduates receive I-CAR certificates for Non-Structural Technician Level 1, Steel Structural Technician Level I, Aluminum Structural Technician Level 1 and Refinish Technician Level 2. Students have the ability to pursue additional collision repair certifications during the UTI program.

Get Information on Automotive Technician Training

If you’d like to learn more about UTI’s automotive technician training program, contact us online or call 1-800-834-7308. Our Admissions team is here to help answer any questions you have.

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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.

4) UTI’s Automotive Technology program is 51 weeks. Core program length varies by subject. For example, Diesel & Industrial Technology is 45 weeks and Automotive/Diesel Technology is 75 weeks.

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.

11) See program details for eligibility requirements and conditions that may apply.

16) Not all programs are accredited by the ASE Education Foundation.

25) UTI’s Automotive Technology program prepares graduates for entry-level positions using the provided training, primarily as automotive technicians. Estimated annual salary shown above is for Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics as published in the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ May 2021 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 $19.04 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, May 2021 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 percentile of hourly earnings in North Carolina are $14.34 and $12.94, respectively.

47) The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that total national employment for Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics will be 743,800 by 2031. See Table 1.2 Employment by detailed occupation, 2021 and projected 2031, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, www.bls.gov, viewed October 13, 2022. UTI is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary.

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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