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Becoming an Auto Technician Is a Good Career Plan: Here's Why

UTI Profile Image Universal Technical Institute Apr 25, 2018 ·
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Do you love tinkering on things and have no problem getting your hands dirty? Consider becoming an automotive technician.

Automotive technicians — also referred to as automotive mechanics — repair, inspect and maintain vehicles. In addition to performing maintenance and repair services, they meet with customers to explain the mechanical issues with their cars and keep them in the loop throughout the repair process. This is a career that requires both technical skills and communication skills in order to keep the customer satisfied.

Some auto technicians specialize in a certain area, such as engines or brakes. However, most auto technician positions require a general knowledge of all mechanical components of a vehicle.

When choosing any career, it’s important to ensure that it aligns with your passion and goals for the future. Keep reading to learn all about how becoming an auto technician can be an exciting career choice!

What Are The Benefits of Being an Auto Mechanic?

There are many benefits that come with being an auto mechanic. If you’re looking for a rewarding career that requires little schooling, this is a great occupation to consider.

  • Techs are in demand: With more than 276 million vehicles on the road in the United States, there is a great 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 technicians play a critical role in keeping these vehicles on the road and, quite literally, in keeping our world moving.
  • Have variety in your work: One of the many perks that comes with being a technician is the variety that comes in your day-to-day work. 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. No two days are the same in this job, which is one of the many reasons people choose this career.
  • Find fulfillment: Many auto technicians find a great sense of satisfaction in their work. Being able to complete challenging repairs is rewarding, and being able to make customers happy and get them safely back on the road is priceless.
  • 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. Universal Technical Institute (UTI) grad Corey Hedge is a great example of this — he used his automotive training to blaze a trail in the railroad industry!
  • Promising career trajectory: Automotive technicians aren’t limited to working under the hood for their entire careers. They may be able to advance to service writer or service manager positions, or even become an automotive instructor at a trade school like UTI. Some take the entrepreneurial path and start businesses of their own!
  • Get trained in less time: One of the biggest advantages to pursuing a career as an auto technician is the amount of time it takes to enter the workforce. While many careers today require a four-year college degree (and sometimes more), auto techs typically complete their training in less than two years. By attending a school like UTI, you can get trained for the industry in just 51 weeks!7

What’s the Difference Between a Technician and a Mechanic?

The terms mechanic and technician are often used interchangeably in the automotive industry. The difference between the two is a highly debated topic — some believe mechanic and technician mean the same thing, while others believe there is a critical difference.

In general, mechanics tend to do more hands-on work, like oil and brake pad changes. Technicians also do these types of repairs, but they focus more on the electrical side of things. Due to the high-level technology found in late-model vehicles, the term “technician” better describes this profession, but you’ll also hear those who work on cars referred to as “mechanics.”

Check out this blog to learn more about the technician vs. mechanic debate.

Becoming a Mechanic With No Experience

Becoming an auto mechanic might sound intimidating to those who have never worked on cars before. But if you’re interested in this field, don’t let a lack of prior experience stop you!

If you want to be a mechanic but know nothing, here are a few steps to take to get started:

  1. Have a high school diploma or GED: Most employers will require this.
  2. Attend an auto mechanic training program: Enrolling at a trade school and taking a training program, like the Automotive Technology program at UTI, is a great way to jump-start your career in the auto industry. This particular program is designed to build your knowledge from the ground up, so no prior experience is required.
  3. Earn industry certifications: Certifications are highly valued in the auto industry. Think of them as badges that demonstrate your level of training! Graduates of UTI’s auto program are well prepared to test for ASE certification and can substitute their training for one of the two years of work experience required to become certified.16
  4. Apply for jobs in the industry: Once you’ve completed your training and earned certifications, it’s time to start the job search! Many employers will put you through some form of on-the-job training to ensure you learn the skills specific for what you’ll be doing in your role.

How Long Does It Take to Become an Automotive Mechanic?

The length of time it takes to become an automotive mechanic can vary. Some choose to go into the field with no formal training and work their way up to a mechanic role, which can take several years. Others decide to enroll in a training program to learn skills in a shorter amount of time.

UTI’s Automotive Technology program is designed to be completed in just 51 weeks — less than a year! Graduates of this program are prepared to pursue entry-level technician positions in the field. During their training, they take courses on a variety of topics, from engine service and repair to brake systems, service writing and even power and performance.

After completing UTI’s core program, students can choose to continue their training with a manufacturer specific program. Created in conjunction with brands like BMW, Ford and Toyota, these programs are designed to equip you with skills specific to the technology of today’s leading manufacturers.15

Read: How Long Does It Take to Become an Automotive Technician?

What Is the Average Auto Mechanic Salary?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for automotive service technicians and mechanics was $42,090 in 2019,25 which breaks down to $20.24 per hour. This means that half of auto technicians earned more, and half earned less.

Keep in mind that salary can vary based on several factors, including industry, employer and experience level of the technician. To get an idea of how much auto technicians are earning in different areas, check out this state-specific salary guide.

A UTI Grad’s Story of Becoming an Automotive Technician

If you’re thinking about becoming an auto technician, it can be helpful to learn from someone who has successfully done it.

Jackson Chartier spent his childhood working on Corvettes, Skylarks and custom street rods with his father and grandfathers, but attending a school for automotive technician training wasn’t part of his original plan.

But it was part of his Plan B. And he brought his A-game.

Judging by his collection of awards, Jackson doesn’t have anything but an A-game. He was captain of his high school cross-country team and a varsity wrestler. He also won a team dedication and spirit award and received multiple scholarships — including one from the mikeroweWORKS Foundation (more on that later).

It’s an impressive list that’s evidence of Jackson’s determination, and a list that becomes even more impressive once you learn he has accomplished all these things despite having to live with a major distraction. Jackson has cerebral palsy, which affects body movement and muscle coordination.

Jackson’s Story

Jackson won’t tell you that cerebral palsy has held him back. He actually gives it credit for his persistence. “I can either use my CP as an excuse or as motivation. I’m not sure if I would have been able to accomplish all these things without it, as weird as that sounds.”

He also gives cerebral palsy credit for ruining his Plan A. “I wanted to be an Army Ranger in the 75th Ranger Regiment, and I started preparing myself when I was in the seventh grade. I knew I had to be fit and strong, so I got fit and strong.”

Unfortunately, Jackson’s disability made him ineligible to serve, but he didn’t dwell on the disappointment. Instead, he shifted gears and kept his foot on the gas. His affinity for cars and anything mechanical made pursuing a trade school and a career as an auto and diesel technician an easy decision, not to mention those types of skills being in high demand. It was the perfect Plan B.

Preparing to Become an Automotive Technician

While still a junior, Jackson spent his mornings training in the automotive technology program at College of Lake County in Grayslake, Illinois, near his home and attending his regular high school classes in the afternoon. By the time he was a senior, he had added a part-time job at O’Reilly Auto Parts to his schedule. That same year, when searching for automotive schools, Jackson became aware of UTI and the programs it offered.

“UTI gave a presentation at school and I was immediately impressed. They use late-model technology and have a bunch of relationships with manufacturers. Plus, they’re accredited,” Jackson says. “I really liked the fact they’re an ASE test center and the Lisle (Illinois) campus is a pretty easy drive” from home.

It all made sense. In less than two weeks, Jackson completed his campus interviews and made his decision to enroll in UTI’s Automotive Technology II Program.

Jackson Chartier

Hard Work Pays Off

As expected, Jackson was eager to begin his training at UTI, but something unexpected happened. His high school guidance counselor asked him if he had heard of the mikeroweWORKS Foundation scholarships. He hadn’t.

Jackson learned his being a state qualifier in the SkillsUSA Illinois competition demonstrated a commitment to hard work — making him just the type of student the mikeroweWORKS Foundation likes to support.

Following his counselor’s suggestion, Jackson applied for the Work Ethic Scholarship, and to Jackson’s surprise he was named a recipient. “I’m not even sure I would’ve applied for the scholarship if my counselor didn’t urge me to,” Jackson says. “Then I won. It was a total surprise.”

What Happened After High School Graduation

Jackson graduated from high school in June 2016, and within a month was attending UTI classes and working as an Express Lube Technician at a local Nissan dealership.1 He had considered taking similar training programs at both two- and four-year schools but recognized that UTI had state-of-the-industry technology and that he could be prepared to work sooner.

Being as ambitious as he is, Jackson decided to supplement his auto technician training with diesel training, which UTI offers in a combined program. The Manufacturer-Specific Advanced Training programs that UTI offers also were appealing, especially the Mercedes-Benz DRIVE program. Jackson always had admired the brand and its engineering. His dad even had an R350, which Jackson would tinker with.

According to Plan

So, that Plan B? Jackson has followed it to perfection. He was a top performer in the Automotive and Diesel Technology II program and ended up moving from the suburbs of Chicago to Grapevine, Texas, to attend the highly competitive Mercedes-Benz DRIVE program at the manufacturer’s brand new facility.6

Jackson’s family has a saying: “There is no can’t, only I can!” Jackson is quick to add, “And there really is no Plan B. Whatever you’re doing today, that’s Plan A. You only get out what you put into it: Work hard and work smart. But it certainly helps when you have support and resources like those provided by UTI.”

Ready to Go to Auto Mechanic School?

If you’re ready to get on track to a career like Jackson’s, there’s no better time than now. UTI’s Automotive Technology program starts every three to six weeks, so you can start training and prepare for your career sooner. To learn more, visit our program page and request information to get in touch with an Admissions Representative today.

Related Questions

Can You Make a Living as a Mechanic?

Yes, you can make a good living as a mechanic. The BLS reports that the median annual salary for automotive service technicians and mechanics was $42,090 in 2019, which breaks down to $20.24 per hour.25

Do Technicians Make Good Money?

Auto technicians have the potential to make a great income. As with any career, this can vary depending on the employer, demand in the area and level of experience the technician has. Check out this blog to learn more about what auto mechanics are earning in each state.

Is Being an Automotive Mechanic Worth It?

Many mechanics will tell you that a career in the automotive industry is worth it. If you’re detail oriented, a problem solver and love working with your hands, this can be a great career path. Auto mechanics do much more than change oil — changes in technology have led to exciting advancements in the industry.

What Qualities Make a Good Mechanic?

Being an auto mechanic requires a specific set of skills. Some qualities that make a good mechanic include:

  • Passion
  • Ability to work with technology
  • Math skills
  • Adaptability
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Professionalism
  • Hardworking

Do You Have to Go to College to Be a Mechanic?

You don’t necessarily have to go to college to be a mechanic, but a training program, like one offered at a trade school, can be a great way to prepare for a career in the field. Most of these programs can be completed in two years or less.

How Do I Choose an Auto Mechanic School?

Choosing an auto mechanic school is a big decision, and it requires research. When looking into different schools, be sure to consider the school’s reputation, industry connections and the support it offers graduates. You’ll also want to consider the cost of the program and if scholarships and grants are available.10

Looking for a tool to help you in your search? Check out this list of 13 questions to ask when choosing a trade school.

Updated on February 16, 2021

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By submitting this form, I further understand and agree that all information provided is subject to UTI’s Privacy Policy available at uti.edu/privacy-policy

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