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Automotive Service Mechanic Career Working Environment

While almost half of automotive service technicians work a standard 40-hour week, over 30 percent work more than 40 hours a week. Many of the latter are self-employed. Some shops offer evening and weekend service. Generally, these workers work indoors in well-ventilated and well-lit repair shops, although some are drafty and noisy. They frequently work with dirty and greasy parts and in awkward positions. They often lift heavy parts and tools. Minor cuts, burns and bruises are common, but serious accidents are usually avoided when the shop is clean and orderly and proper safety practices are observed.

Automotive Service Mechanic Salary

Median Hourly Wages in 2011 - $17.39 
Mean Hourly Wages in 2011 - $18.54 
Mean Annual Salary in 2011 - $38,560

Automotive Service Mechanic Career Details

Integrated electronic systems and complex computers run vehicles and measure their performance while on the road. Automotive service mechanics and technicians have developed into high-tech problem solvers who must have an increasingly broad base of knowledge about how vehicles' complex components work and interact. They must also have the ability to work with electronic diagnostic equipment and computer-based technical reference materials. 

Automotive service mechanics and technicians use their high-tech skills to maintain, inspect and repair automobiles and light trucks with gasoline engines. Workers use computerized shop equipment and work with electronic components, while maintaining their skills with traditional hand tools. Consequently they are often called "automotive service technicians" with the title of "mechanic" being used les frequently. 

When troubles occur, workers use a diagnostic approach. First they test components and systems, then isolate those that could not logically be the cause of the problem. Workers may have to test drive the vehicle or use a variety of testing equipment to identify the source of the problem. During routine service inspections, workers test and lubricate engines and other components. Technicians usually follow a checklist to ensure that they examine every critical part of the vehicle.

Automotive Service Mechanic Career Description

The work of automotive service mechanics and technicians has evolved from simply mechanical to high technology. The ability to diagnose the source of a problem quickly and accurately requires good reasoning ability and a thorough knowledge of automobiles. Many mechanics consider diagnosing hard-to-find troubles one of their most satisfying and challenging duties.

Schools to Consider:

Automotive Service Mechanic Career Required Training

Most employers prefer to hire those who've completed formal training programs in high school or in a postsecondary vocational school. However some workers still learn the trade solely by assisting and learning from experienced workers. 

Many high schools, community colleges and public and private vocational and technical schools offer automotive service technician training programs. Traditional postsecondary programs tend to provide a thorough career preparation that expands on the student's high school repair experience. 

Postsecondary automotive technician training programs vary, but they normally provide intensive career preparation with a combination of classroom instruction and hands-on practice. Some trade and technical school programs provide concentrated training for six months to a year. Community college programs typically spread the training over two years and supplement the automotive training with other subjects, awarding an associate degree or certificate.

Automotive Service Mechanic Career Coursework

While high school programs are an asset, they vary greatly in quality. The better programs - such as the Automotive Youth Education Service (AYES) - conclude with students receiving their technician's certification and high school diploma. 

Various automobile manufacturers and their participating dealers sponsor two-year associate degree programs at postsecondary schools. The Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT) currently certifies a number of schools. Students in these programs tend to spend alternate six- to 12-week periods attending classes full time and working full time in the service departments of sponsoring dealers. 

The National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF) establishes the standards by which training facilities get certified. To ensure that programs keep up with ever-changing technology and standards, certified programs are subjected to periodic compliance reviews and mandatory recertification. 

Voluntary certification by Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) has become the industry standard for automotive service technicians. In some cases, graduates of ASE-certified programs achieve certification in up to three specialties.

Automotive Service Mechanic Career Future Job Outlook

Opportunities in this field are expected to be very good for those who've completed automotive training programs in high school, vocational and technical schools or community colleges. Those who enter the occupation can expect steady work.

Automotive Service Mechanic Career Specializations

Increasingly, automotive service mechanics and technicians in large shops become specialized. Transmission technicians and rebuilders work on gear trains, couplings, hydraulic pumps and other parts of the transmission. Tune-up technicians adjust the ignition timing and valves. Automotive air-conditioning repairers install and repair air conditioners and service components. Front-end mechanics align and balance wheels and repair steering mechanisms. Brake repairers adjust brakes, replace brake lines and pads and make other repairs on brake systems.

Career Info Auto Repair