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There are more than 276 million vehicles on the road in the United States, a number that has been steadily increasing since 2017, according to Statista.
All those vehicles must be properly maintained so they can safely operate and get drivers to where they need to go. Auto mechanics inspect cars, maintain vehicles and fix car problems to get them back on the road for safe operation for their clients.
If you have an interest in these machines upon which so many people rely for work and everyday life, a career as an auto mechanic could be for you. Use this guide to learn the answer to what an auto mechanic is, what an auto mechanic does, a typical day
in the life of an auto mechanic, types of auto mechanic jobs, auto mechanic salary information and how to become an auto mechanic.
Auto mechanics repair cars and light trucks used for everyday transportation. They may also be called auto service technicians, service technicians or service techs.
Auto technicians may fall into different categories based on their specialty. For example, service technicians might be:
Most auto mechanics work for automotive dealers or in the automotive maintenance and repair industry. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 33% of auto technicians in 2019 worked for dealerships while 27% worked in automotive mechanical and electrical repair and maintenance. About 8% of auto mechanics in 2019 worked for automotive accessories, parts and tires stores, or at gasoline
Many mechanics are also their own bosses. In 2019, 13% of mechanics were self-employed.
Most auto mechanics work full-time. Many work nights or weekends, depending on their clientele or operating hours. Most auto mechanics are standing most of the day, so they must be able to meet the physical demands of the job to succeed.
Wondering what a day in the life of an auto mechanic is like? Typically, auto mechanics:
Auto mechanics must have knowledge of how to use tools, including wrenches, pliers, ratchets and sockets. Auto technicians must also be familiar with computerized diagnostic tools and power tools like welding torches, pneumatic wrenches, lathes, and jacks
Auto mechanic duties are constantly evolving due to new vehicle developments. Examples are the increasing prevalence of electric vehicles and cars that use alternative fuels, including ethanol.
As vehicle technology advances, auto mechanics must also have an expert understanding of electronic systems primarily controlled by electronic components and computers. These may include braking, steering and transmission systems.
In May 2021, the median annual wage for auto mechanics was $46,880.25 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.
Some experienced auto mechanics who work for shops or dealerships receive a commission related to the labor cost. This is known as “flat rate”
or “flag rate,” which means weekly earnings are determined based on the amount of work completed. Some repair shops pay auto mechanics an hourly rate.
According to the BLS, typical entry-level education for auto mechanics is a postsecondary nondegree award. Once the person
is employed, they must usually obtain industry certification. The standard credential for service technicians is a certification from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).
To become ASE-certified, a technician must have at least two years of experience or relevant schooling plus one year of experience and pass an exam. Attending an ASE Education Foundation accredited auto program like Universal Technical Institute (UTI)16 counts toward becoming ASE-certified.
For those who want to work in a dealership, there are automotive specialized training programs available. Often, dealerships recruit graduates from these programs because the programs
focus on the type of vehicle in which the dealership specializes. The Manufacturer-Specific Advanced Training (MSAT) programs offered by UTI include:
The Automotive Technology program at UTI prepares students for careers as auto mechanics.1 In the 51-week core program, students learn basic automotive skills, including automotive engine service and repair,
professional automotive service writing, vehicle brake systems, and vehicle electronic systems. Students can participate in MSAT programs upon completion of the core program.
UTI prepares aspiring automotive professionals with the education they need to succeed in the field. With financial aid like grants and scholarships available,10 you can start your education to move toward your dream career.
UTI’s auto mechanic program is available at campuses nationwide. Request information or enroll 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.
10) Financial aid and scholarships are available to those who qualify. Awards vary due to specific conditions, criteria and state.
15) Manufacturer-paid advanced training programs are conducted by UTI on behalf of manufacturers who determine acceptance criteria and conditions. These programs are not part of UTI’s accreditation.
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.
Universal Technical Institute of Illinois, Inc. is approved by the Division of Private Business and Vocational Schools of the Illinois Board of Higher Education.