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If you have a passion for cars, love working with your hands and are always up for a new challenge, a career as an automotive technician may be for you.
Due to advancements in technology, now is an exciting time to pursue a career in the automotive industry. As a technician, you can apply your knowledge and skills to a variety of different environments as you pursue your passion. Keep reading to learn all about what an automotive technician does, automotive mechanic jobs, career outlook and more.
A career as an auto technician is full of potential benefits: a steady income, a path for career advancement, and a place to put your passion and skills to the test.5 The automotive industry is ripe with change as new vehicle technology and high-tech systems are now considered standard equipment. Gain the up-to-date training and proper education from UTI, and position yourself for a promising future.6
Automotive technicians (commonly known as automotive mechanics) diagnose, maintain, repair and inspect cars, trucks and other vehicles.
Today’s auto technicians are familiar with the complicated electronics systems used to diagnose problems in vehicles of different makes and sizes. In modern cars, just about everything from the transmission to the steering is controlled by a computer. When these systems break down, it’s the role of a technician to diagnose the problem, recommend a solution and execute the repair to get the customer back on the road.
Some automotive techs specialize by becoming air conditioning experts or transmission specialists. Many also focus on vehicles from specific brands by completing manufacturer-specific training. At the end of the day, you can count on both generalists and specialists to spot problems and provide solutions when it comes to your car.
Automotive Technician Job Description
At this point, you might be wondering, “What does an automotive technician do?” Job responsibilities vary depending on a technician’s chosen career path. However, typical tasks in an auto mechanic job description include:
Curious about the types of jobs in the automotive industry? Depending on personal interests, goals and skills, someone looking to get into this industry has many options and possible avenues to pursue. A typical day for an auto mechanic can range from
performing general maintenance work to service writing.
Here is a list of common automotive technician jobs:
Entry-level technicians perform general service, maintenance and diagnostic work. Students who have completed specialized training programs such as Manufacturer-Specific Advanced Training (MSAT) programs at Universal Technical Institute (UTI)11 may be more likely to pursue employment with the dealerships or manufacturers of the vehicles on which they trained.1 Other avenues available to pursue
jobs as entry-level techs include independent shops and chain shops such as Pep Boys and Sears Auto Centers.
Many automotive technicians decide to put their education to work in parts rather than as a service technician. Parts professionals manage inventory and deal with warranty issues that may arise from defective or damaged parts. Those who excel in this
role work well with others and have a deep understanding of auto repair.
If a customer or service technician requests a specific part, knowledge of what needs to be replaced to gain access to that part is critical. This is where having automotive training is a bonus.
Service writing is among the most commonly pursued automotive careers. Service writers are the go-between for customers and technicians. They write up job orders based on customer requests and diagnostic experience from similar issues. In some cases,
service advisors dispatch the work to a specific technician based on that tech’s skill sets.
Service advisors need diagnostic skills, as well as people skills. A great service advisor keeps the customer informed about the progress of the repair, getting authorization as needed for additional work. An automotive education background allows service
advisors to be more accurate with estimating time for a given job.
Many automotive technicians work their way up to leadership positions at their shops or dealerships. Service managers are responsible for the technicians, parts employees and often the detailers/porters.
On any given day, a service manager may also work with customers regarding escalated issues, complete department forecasting and budgeting, and maintain relationships with vendors and suppliers. A solid knowledge of automotive repair helps a service manager
be more effective in his or her role.
It’s no surprise that many tech school instructors were students before they began their careers. Teaching repair and diagnostic skills to the next
generation of technicians is a great way to keep the country running. Instructors impact students’ lives in many ways by sharing with classes the knowledge needed to perform a trade and earn a living after graduation.
Instructors who have been tech school students are in a unique position, as they understand what it’s like to be a student and can present the curriculum in ways that best resonate with their class.
Working with fleet vehicles can be a great career choice for someone with a background in automotive mechanics. Cities, towns and municipalities across the country have fleets of vehicles that need work. Many automotive technicians work for police departments
or even local taxi companies, repairing vehicles and ensuring they run smoothly.
Who better than a trained technician to evaluate and estimate damage to vehicles damaged by collisions or natural disasters? Insurance adjusters often work in the field traveling across their territories and act as liaisons between policyholders, insurance
companies and repair shops.
Some adjusters work directly for insurance companies while others known as independent adjusters are employed on a contract basis for a variety of companies. Graduates of a formal trade school program can have the knowledge and understanding of vehicle
repair that gives them an advantage in their field.
Auto Body Technician
Auto body technicians (also known as collision repair technicians) repair vehicles damaged in some type of accident. They replace and repair panels, bumpers and lights, and perform other tasks such as straightening frames and painting. UTI’s
Collision Repair & Refinish Technology (CRRT) program provides a great start for those interested in this type of job.
Some automotive techs follow an entrepreneurial path and decide to work for themselves. Many gain valuable experience working in shops or dealerships before taking the leap while others jump right into their own business after completing their automotive
Knowledge of running a business is helpful but without the diagnostic and repair expertise, owning a shop is very challenging. Those with automotive backgrounds open a variety of different types of businesses, including independent shops,
mobile repair techs, and tire and/or quick lube shops.
Auto technicians work in a variety of settings and locations. In addition to a traditional dealership, there are many avenues to pursue based on an individual’s preferences. Some examples of car mechanic working conditions include:
When researching any career, it’s important to consider salary. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual median salary for automotive service technicians and mechanics was $40,71024 in May 2018. Consider that income can vary based on experience level, specialization and training among other factors.
An entire generation of mechanics are retiring, and there simply aren’t enough qualified automotive technicians to take their place, let alone to cover the growing demand. That means there’s a giant hole to fill, and auto mechanic opportunities for advancement will continue to grow.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of automotive service technicians and mechanics is projected to grow 6 percent from 2016 to 2026,12 about as fast as the average for all occupations. Job opportunities for qualified jobseekers is expected to be very good in the coming years.
If you have a passion for cars, you might be wondering, “What do I need to be an automotive technician?”
Cars are becoming increasingly complex. As a result, what it takes to qualify as an automotive technician is changing. For example, technicians must possess the knowledge and skills to fix the complex electrical systems that help power today’s cars
There are several different paths to become a technician. One is to attend a trade school like UTI. The 51-week Automotive Technology program at UTI is designed to prepare you for a career as an automotive technician. As you move through your training,
you learn by doing as you take on the maintenance and repair of both import and domestic autos. You’ll work on everything from simple engine systems to power and performance machines.
The companies that work with UTI trust us to train the technicians that they employ.
1) UTI is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary.
5) UTI programs prepare graduates for careers in industries using the provided training, primarily as automotive, diesel, collision repair, motorcycle and marine technicians. Some UTI graduates get jobs within their field of study in positions other than as a technician, such as: parts associate, service writer, fabricator, paint and paint prep, and shop owner/operator. UTI cannot guarantee employment or salary.
6) UTI graduates' achievements may vary. Individual circumstances and wages depend on personal credentials and economic factors. Work experience, industry certifications, the location of the employer and their compensation programs affect wages. UTI cannot guarantee employment or salary.
11) See program details for eligibility requirements and conditions that may apply.
12) Based on data compiled from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections (2016-2026), www.bls.gov, viewed October 24, 2017. The projected number of annual job openings, by job classification is: Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics, 75,900; Bus and Truck Mechanics and Diesel Engine Specialists, 28,300; Automotive Body and Related Repairers, 17,200. Job openings include openings due to growth and net replacements.
13) Based on data compiled from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections (2016-2026), www.bls.gov, viewed October 24, 2017.
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. For important information about the educational debt, earnings and completion rates of students who attended this program, visit www.uti.edu/disclosures.
24) Graduates of NASCAR Technical Institute’s Automotive Technology program and Automotive Technology with NASCAR (the NASCAR Technology program) are qualified to work as entry-level service technicians in automotive repair facilities or automotive dealer service departments. Graduates from the NASCAR program have additional opportunities to work in racing-related industries. Of the students who elected to take the NASCAR-specific elective courses and graduated during 2015, approximately 15% found employment opportunities in racing-related industries. The overall employment rate for NASCAR Technical Institute was 89% for 2015.