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Auto Mechanics Job, Salary, and School Information



Schools and Education

What’s Needed:

  • Many entry-level positions require vocational or other type of postsecondary certificate training.
  • Many automotive mechanic schools provide a one-year certificate program however two-year associate degrees and short-term certificate programs providing a specific skill are also available.
  • Students in automotive manufacturers’ and dealers’ sponsored two-year associate degree programs alternate between attending classes full-time and working full-time in service shops under the supervision of an experienced mechanic.
  • Before or after you’re hired the employer typically requires industry certification.

What you study:

  • Basic mathematics
  • Electronics
  • Computers
  • Automotive repair
  • Customer service
  • Engine repair
  • Brake systems
  • Steering and suspension
  • Automatic transmission

What courses you’ll take

Below are examples of courses that you’ll likely take as an auto mechanic student.

Introduction to Automotive Systems and ShopsGives basics of auto tools equipment and practices used in repair including: tools; fasteners; measurements; machining; gaskets; adhesives; jacks; presses; cleaning; service information systems; manuals; shop procedures; and safe practices. Principles of operation for each of the major automobile subsystems are presented.Teach students how to complete work safely in a shop and give foundational knowledge and skills for further studies.
Brake SystemsCovers principles and repair of brake and anti-lock brake systems including: disc brakes; drum brakes; the underlying hydraulic systems; and power brake components.Ready students to be able to inspect and repair all types of braking systems and underlying components.
Engine RepairCovers theory design and operation of internal combustion auto engines. Teaches disassembly troubleshooting measurement repair and assembly. Specific areas studied in detail include the engine block and head assemblies. Includes tests such as compression and leakage.Ready students to repair car engines using the appropriate tools and diagnostic procedures.
Engine PerformanceStudies tools systems and components related to the performance of internal combustion engines such as: electronic ignition systems; timing adjustments; engine knock control; distributors; air injection; catalytic converters; crankcase ventilation; and emission control systems.Teach how to maintain and repair the systems and components related to optimizing engine performance.
Electrical and Electronic SystemsIntroduces theory operation and diagnosis of automotive electric/electronic systems including: electricity principles; circuit designs; driver information systems; communication networks within a vehicle; wiring methods; batteries and starters; charging systems; lighting; accessories; and schematics.Prepare students to diagnose and repair automotive electrical and electronic systems.
Steering and SuspensionReviews operation and repairs of: steering; power steering; frames; springs; and shock systems. Teaches wheel alignment and tire balancing.Prepare students for maintaining diagnosing and repair steering and suspension components.
Drive Trains and AxlesIncludes study of operation inspection and repair of: automatic transmissions; transaxles; manual transmissions and clutches; hydraulic systems; transfer cases; differentials and driveline components. Reviews testing procedures such as dynamometer testing of transmission performance.Teach the examination diagnosis and repair of drive train systems and their components.

Video Overview

Shows an introduction to the work for an auto mechanic. Created for the US Department of Labor.

Top Schools

Below is a selection of programs that have recently graduated the most students in the US for automotive mechanics related studies.

  • Front Range Community College in Westminster Colorado offers an Associate of Applied Science in Automotive Technology degree. Students have the option of completing all or just selected courses. The program covers engines brakes electrical systems automotive emissions fuel injection systems and suspension. Front Range Community College also provides nine certificate programs.The Associate in Automotive Technology degree program combines classroom lectures and lab-based sessions. The entire automotive technology program is certified by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation and the Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) organization.
  • Seminole State College via its Transportation and Energy Department provides an Associate in Applied Science in Automotive Technology as well as a certificate in Automotive Service technology program. Students in the associate degree program learn to maintain alternative energy systems including those used in hybrid and hydrogen fuel vehicles. Students also complete at least 10 credits of part-time work at a local dealership or auto repair shop.The instructors are Automotive Serve Excellence (ASE) certified. The Associate degree program is accredited by the National Auto Technicians Education Foundation General Motors and Ford.
  • Universal Technical Institute has locations in Massachusetts North Carolina Illinois Texas Arizona California and Florida. The program taught by ASE certified instructors takes takes 51 weeks to complete. The classrooms are outfitted by top manufacturers. The program prepares students to take ASE certification examinations.Universal Technical Institute reports to have a nationwide network of companies seeking to hire its graduates. The institute also reports four out of five graduates obtain employment in careers in their field of study.

Tips for Selecting a School

  • Accreditation: The best schools are accredited at the national level by a notable organization such as the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF)
  • Hands-on training: It’s the most vital part of an auto mechanic training program. Select a school with an on-site garage or a school with a strong relationship with local dealerships. Some auto mechanic schools provide students the option of participating in manufacturer-specific training programs sponsored by local dealerships. Completing manufactured-specific training programs makes it easier to obtain a position at a local dealership.
  • Class size: A small class size allows for more one-on-one instruction from the teacher
  • Recommendations: Get feedback from local repair shop owners about the auto mechanic schools you’re interested in.
  • Equipment: A tour gives you better insight into the overall quality of the auto mechanic program. Look at the amount of available equipment. For example Universal Technical Institute provides diagnostic equipment used by the dealers and manufacturers most likely to hire its students.
  • Certification: Does the school have a good track record regarding graduates gaining certification from the notable Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) organization? The majority of auto repair shops require ASE certification.
  • Job Placement: What is the school’s job placement rate? For example the job placement rate for graduates from the professional Automotive Training Center at Shoreline Community College in Shoreline Washington is close to 100 percent. Many automotive mechanic programs have partnership programs which help place students in entry-level positions.<
  • Graduation rate: What percentage of students graduate from the program. For example at Universal Technical Institute almost two out of three students graduate from their program.

Certifications and Licensing

Certification from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence is the standard credential for service technicians. Many employers require automotive service mechanics become certified.

Certification is provided in areas such as: Automatic transmission/transaxle; engine performance; brakes; electrical/electronic systems; engine repair; manual drivetrains and axles; heating and air conditioning; and suspension and steering. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requires all technicians who purchase or work with refrigerants be licensed in proper refrigerant handling.

Job Flexibility

Full-time versus part-time: Most automobile mechanics work full-time and many auto mechanics work evenings or weekends. Overtime is common.

Work location: Most automotive mechanics work indoors in repair shops. A lot of mechanics work for dealerships.

Recommended Websites

Here are several websites we consider among the best resources for researching automotive mechanic careers:

    • The US Department of Labor Occupational Handbook is an excellent reference for a wide array of basic information and data about automotive mechanics. The handbook includes salary information.
    • The National Institute Automotive Service Excellence tests and certifying automotive professionals. Its website provides information about ASE certification tests including test preparation and training. The organization offers ASE practice tests study guides and more.
    • National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation NATEF compares technical training programs to standards set by the automotive industry. The organization provides qualifying programs NATEF accreditation. The NATEF certifies automotive training programs in all 50 states at the secondary and post-secondary levels.The NATEF website provides information about careers accredited programs and the accreditation process. You can use the website to find an accredited program in a specific state.

Salaries by City

See typical salaries and ranges for this career below Shift click to sort by more than one column — for example first shift-click on state and then shift-click on salary to find best and worst salaries in each state.

StateCity / RegionTypical SalarySalary RangeJob Count% of All Jobs
AKAnchorage$48720$29K – $71K9700.56%
AKFairbanks$53300$26K – $75K3100.85%
ALAnniston – Oxford$34210$22K – $55K1600.37%
ALAuburn – Opelika$38890$20K – $63K2300.47%
ALBirmingham – Hoover$36710$21K – $59K20300.42%
ALDecatur$36040$24K – $49K2500.48%
ALDothan$33250$19K – $61K2700.48%
ALFlorence – Muscle Shoals$33030$23K – $46K2000.39%
ALGadsden$34090$22K – $53K1800.52%
ALHuntsville$36640$24K – $58K8300.41%
ALMobile$36750$23K – $60K6100.36%
ALMontgomery$32410$21K – $54K7200.45%
ALTuscaloosa$34510$22K – $53K2900.33%
ARFayetteville – Springdale – Rogers$33920$22K – $53K6900.34%
ARFort Smith$32940$20K – $58K5700.51%
ARHot Springs$28820$21K – $47K1800.50%
ARJonesboro$29120$20K – $45K2000.42%
ARLittle Rock – North Little Rock – Conway$31070$20K – $52K14600.44%
ARPine Bluff$29570$17K – $46K1300.37%
AZFlagstaff$37030$25K – $71K2300.41%
AZLake Havasu City $ Kingman$33140$19K – $55K4200.95%
AZPhoenix – Mesa – Glendale$43160$24K – $61K74600.43%
AZPrescott$32130$19K – $57K2900.55%
AZTucson$36010$24K – $54K19100.55%
AZYuma$35870$19K – $56K2600.46%
CABakersfield – Delano$35890$21K – $55K11000.40%
CAChico$40260$24K – $61K3400.50%
CAEl Centro$49540$26K – $72K2300.43%
CAFresno$37220$20K – $57K14900.47%
CAHanford – Corcoran$33540$20K – $53K1200.33%
CALos Angeles – Long Beach – Glendale (Metro Area)$36390$21K – $60K131600.34%
CAMadera – Chowchilla$40530$22K – $53K1400.37%
CAMerced$33590$19K – $54K3400.56%
CAModesto$36520$26K – $58K7300.47%
CANapa$44890$27K – $60K2000.32%
CAOakland – Fremont – Hayward (Metro Area)$49170$26K – $73K41300.43%
CAOxnard – Thousand Oaks – Ventura$37450$22K – $68K14900.52%
CARedding$42500$21K – $72K3300.57%
CARiverside – San Bernardino – Ontario$38080$21K – $61K58100.50%
CASacramento – Arden – Arcade – Roseville$48130$28K – $68K35200.43%
CASalinas$43730$29K – $66K4600.30%
CASan Diego – Carlsbad – San Marcos$42850$28K – $65K48500.38%
CASan Francisco – San Mateo – Redwood City (Metro Area)$48110$29K – $85K32400.32%
CASan Jose – Sunnyvale – Santa Clara$48530$27K – $72K26800.30%
CASan Luis Obispo – Paso Robles$38060$23K – $62K4600.46%
CASanta Ana – Anaheim – Irvine (Metro Area)$46370$28K – $82K50000.35%
CASanta Barbara – Santa Maria – Goleta$43030$24K – $69K5900.35%
CASanta Cruz – Watsonville$49510$28K – $73K3100.37%
CASanta Rosa – Petaluma$49450$26K – $71K7200.42%
CAStockton$35350$20K – $59K8700.45%
CAVallejo – Fairfield$39620$23K – $69K6900.57%
CAVisalia – Porterville$34700$18K – $54K4500.34%
CAYuba City$39650$24K – $58K2600.72%
COBoulder$32940$18K – $59K8700.54%
COColorado Springs$42630$21K – $63K15900.66%
CODenver – Aurora – Broomfield$37120$21K – $63K58300.47%
COFort Collins – Loveland$40370$25K – $65K7800.59%
COGrand Junction$38450$25K – $61K3900.68%
COGreeley$34590$21K – $62K4300.53%
COPueblo$30360$21K – $51K2600.48%
CTBridgeport – Stamford – Norwalk$47460$23K – $78K20600.50%
CTDanbury$40870$22K – $73K4700.70%
CTHartford – West Hartford – East Hartford$$25K – $59K27200.49%
CTNew Haven$38620$22K – $57K12600.46%
CTNorwich – New London$44090$26K – $57K6100.48%
CTWaterbury$42360$23K – $65K4100.64%
DCWashington – Arlington – Alexandria (Metro Area)$47520$24K – $73K89800.38%
DEDover$29640$22K – $52K3800.65%
DEWilmington (Metro Area)$40260$24K – $63K13000.40%
FLCape Coral – Fort Myers$36150$22K – $59K13400.66%
FLCrestview – Fort Walton Beach – Destin$33180$20K – $56K4600.62%
FLDeltona – Daytona Beach – Ormond Beach$36570$21K – $60K10300.68%
FLFort Lauderdale – Pompano Beach – Deerfield Beach (Metro Area)$37780$23K – $60K35600.50%
FLGainesville$35460$19K – $53K5500.46%
FLJacksonville$37470$22K – $56K33300.58%
FLLakeland – Winter Haven$34290$21K – $62K11300.59%
FLMiami – Miami Beach – Kendall (Metro Area)$31080$19K – $55K45400.45%
FLNaples – Marco Island$36010$20K – $61K5100.44%
FLNorth Port – Bradenton – Sarasota$36850$22K – $57K13500.56%
FLOrlando – Kissimmee – Sanford$33700$20K – $55K44300.44%
FLPalm Bay – Melbourne – Titusville$33550$20K – $54K10300.54%
FLPalm Coast$32180$18K – $48K800.43%
FLPanama City – Lynn Haven – Panama City Beach$29640$19K – $49K4100.59%
FLPensacola – Ferry Pass – Brent$35040$20K – $55K7600.51%
FLPort St. Lucie$37170$22K – $58K7200.60%
FLPunta Gorda$37230$26K – $64K3600.90%
FLSebastian – Vero Beach$35710$25K – $53K2300.52%
FLTallahassee$31500$18K – $52K8100.51%
FLTampa – St. Petersburg – Clearwater$34060$19K – $55K58800.52%
FLWest Palm Beach – Boca Raton – Boynton Beach (Metro Area)$38730$23K – $58K23900.47%
GAAlbany$27870$17K – $50K3400.58%
GAAthens – Clarke County$40370$21K – $64K3000.39%
GAAtlanta – Sandy Springs – Marietta$35930$20K – $66K100700.45%
GAAugusta – Richmond County$31490$20K – $54K11200.55%