Detailed Guide forAutomotive Service Technicians and Mechanics in California
May also be called: Auto Technicians; Auto Brake Mechanics; Fuel Injection Servicers; and Auto Transmission Specialists.
Specialties within this occupation include: Automotive Air-Conditioning Repairers; Brake Repairers; Undercar Technicians; Transmission Technicians; and Engine Performance Technicians.
What Would I Do?
Automotive Service Technicians inspect, repair, and maintain automobiles and other gasoline, diesel, or alternate-fueled vehicles. In smaller shops, Technicians complete a wide variety of repairs from simple engine tune-ups to tearing down, repairing, and rebuilding of complete power systems. They also service and repair electrical systems; align and service suspension, braking, and steering systems; repair and service air conditioning, heating, and engine-cooling systems. In larger shops, some of this work is completed by specially-trained Technicians who are assigned by their specialty area, such as brake repairers, undercar or transmission mechanics.
To diagnose an automotive malfunction, Technicians may need to test drive a vehicle or use a variety of testing equipment, such as onboard and hand-held diagnostic computers or compression gauges to identify the source of the problem. These tests indicate whether a part is salvageable or whether a new part is needed to repair the vehicle.
Today’s automobiles are run by complex computers and integrated electronic systems. The work of Automotive Service Technicians has progressed from mechanical repair into a high-technology job. The advances in automotive technology create a need for workers who can use computerized shop equipment and work with electronic components while maintaining their skills with traditional hand tools.
Automotive Air-Conditioning Repairers install and repair air-conditioners and service their components, such as compressors, condensers, and controls. They complete special training concerning the handling and disposal of refrigerants to comply with federal and State regulations.
Brake Repairers adjust brakes, replace brake linings and pads, and make other repairs on brake systems. They also diagnose and repair computer controlled anti-lock brake systems and traction control.
Undercar Specialists align and balance wheels and repair steering mechanisms and suspension systems.
Transmission Technicians work on gear trains, couplings, hydraulic pumps, and other parts of transmissions. Transmissions are very complex components that involve some of the most sophisticated technology used in vehicles.
Engine Performance Technicians service emission control systems and adjust valves or replace spark plugs and other parts to ensure efficient engine performance and the proper operation of emission control systems.
Important Tasks and Related Skills
Each task below is matched to a sample skill required to carry out the task.
|View the skill definitions|
|Task||Skill Used in this Task|
|Examine vehicles to determine extent of damage or malfunctions.||Customer and Personal Service|
|Repair, overhaul, and adjust automobile brake systems.||Mechanical|
|Test drive vehicles, and test components and systems, using equipment such as infrared engine analyzers, compression gauges, and computerized diagnostic devices.||Control Precision|
|Use electronic test equipment to locate and correct malfunctions in fuel, ignition, and emissions control systems.||Troubleshooting|
|Follow checklists to ensure all important parts are examined, including belts, hoses, steering systems, spark plugs, brake and fuel systems, wheel bearings, and other potentially troublesome areas.||Information Ordering|
|Repair and replace defective balljoint suspensions, brakeshoes, and wheelbearings.||Repairing|
|Test electronic computer components in automobiles to ensure that they are working properly.||Computers and Electronics|
|Perform routine and scheduled maintenance services such as oil changes, lubrications, and tune-ups.||Manual Dexterity|
|Disassemble units and inspect parts for wear, using micrometers, calipers, and gauges.||Arm-Hand Steadiness|
|Overhaul or replace carburetors, blowers, generators, distributors, starters, and pumps.||Installation|
Below is a definition for each skill.
|View the tasks to skills list|
|Customer and Personal Service||Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.|
|Mechanical||Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.|
|Control Precision||The ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.|
|Troubleshooting||Determining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.|
|Information Ordering||The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).|
|Repairing||Repairing machines or systems using the needed tools.|
|Computers and Electronics||Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.|
|Manual Dexterity||The ability to quickly move your hand, your hand together with your arm, or your two hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.|
|Arm-Hand Steadiness||The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.|
|Installation||Installing equipment, machines, wiring, or programs to meet specifications.|
Automotive Service Technicians usually work indoors in well-ventilated and lighted repair shops. However, some shops are drafty and noisy. They work with dirty and greasy parts and in awkward positions. Automotive Technicians risk injury from lifting heavy parts and tools. Minor cuts, burns, and bruises are common but the risk of injury is reduced if the shop is kept in an orderly condition where safety practices are observed.
Many Automotive Service Technicians work more than 40 hours a week. Some may also work evenings and weekends to meet customer needs.
Most Technicians must provide their own tools, which can be very expensive. Technicians have often invested thousands of dollars in their tools by the time they reach journey level. Employers usually supply the more expensive power tools, engine analyzers, and other diagnostic equipment.
Some Automotive Service Technicians are members of labor unions such as the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
Will This Job Fit Me?
The job of Automotive Service Technician may appeal to those who enjoy activities that involve practical, hands-on problems and solutions. Automotive Technicians occupations satisfy those with realistic interests. Realistic occupations involve technical or mechanical activities.
What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?
The median wage in 2016 for Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics in California is $41,131 annually, or $19.77 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.
Automotive Service Technicians may expect to receive benefits that include health insurance, retirement plans, paid holidays, and vacation.
What is the Job Outlook?
The need for Automotive Service Technicians will remain very strong as the number of vehicles in operation increases, reflecting the continued growth in the number of multi-car families. Job opportunities in this occupation are expected to be very good for persons who complete automotive training programs in high school, vocational and technical schools, or community colleges. Persons with good diagnostic and problem-solving abilities, and whose training includes basic electronics and computer courses, should have the best opportunities. However, persons without formal automotive training are likely to face competition for entry-level jobs. Additional job openings will be due to the need to replace a growing number of retiring technicians, who tend to be the most experienced workers.
Most persons who enter the occupation can expect steady work, even through downturns in the economy.
Employment growth will continue to be concentrated in automobile dealerships and independent automotive repair shops. Employment of automotive service technicians and mechanics in gasoline service stations will continue to decline, as fewer stations offer repair services.
Projections of Employment
In California, the number of Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics is expected to grow at an average rate compared with the total for all occupations. Jobs for Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics are expected to increase by 15.0 percent, or 9,600 jobs between 2012 and 2022.
|Estimated Employment and Projected Growth|
Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics
(Estimated Year-Projected Year)
Due to Net
|View Projected Growth for All Areas|
Annual Job Openings
In California, an average of 960 new job openings per year is expected for Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics, plus an additional 1,620 job openings due to net replacement needs, resulting in a total of 2,590 job openings.
|Estimated Average Annual Job Openings|
Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics
|Jobs From Growth||Jobs Due to|
|View Data for All Areas|
How Do I Qualify?
Education, Training, and Other Requirements
Due to the complexity of today’s automotive technology, most employers prefer to hire employees with a high school diploma who have completed a postsecondary vocational or community college automotive technician training program. Applicants must be physically able to perform all phases of the work and have the ability to distinguish color differences. Many employers also require a valid California driver license because Automotive Technicians often test drive vehicles to diagnose mechanical problems.
The amount and type of work experience required varies from company to company. However, Automotive Service Technicians’ apprenticeship programs usually require 8,000 work hours and completion of 144 hours a year of technical classroom instruction. Instruction is available at various California community colleges.
Early Career Planning
High school students interested in Automotive Technician careers should take courses in English, mathematics, computer technology, electronics, physics, and auto and machine shop. Technicians need good reading, mathematics, and computer skills to study technical manuals and to keep abreast of new technology and learn new repair procedures.
Apprenticeship and Work Study Programs
Apprentices learn their trade while working on the job. They also attend evening classes for technical instruction. Many apprenticeship programs require a high school diploma or equivalent. For more information on apprenticeship programs currently available, visit the State of California's Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Apprenticeship Standards Web site.
Training programs for Automotive Technicians are also available through Regional Occupational Programs. Applicants in the program must be physically able to complete all stages of automotive work. Also, they must be a minimum of 18 years old or 17 years old with parental consent. To find an ROP program near you, go to the California Association of Regional Occupational Centers and Programs Web site.
It is very important for Automotive Service Technicians to keep up to date with the latest developments in automotive technology. They must retest every five years to obtain the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence recertification.
Licensing and Certification
Technicians working as Brake/Lamp Adjusters or Smog Check Technicians must be licensed through the California Department of Consumer Affairs. The Brake/Lamp Adjuster license is valid for four years and the Smog Check Technician license is valid for two years. Refer to “Other Sources.” Contact the agency that issues the license for additional information. Click on the license title below for details.
Voluntary certification is available through the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). The ASE certification has become a standard credential for Automotive Service Technicians. Certification is offered in up to eight areas of automotive service such as engine repair, automatic transmission, electrical/electronic systems, brake systems, manual drive train and axles, suspension and steering, heating and air conditioning, and engine performance. To qualify for certification, Automotive Technicians must have at least two years of experience and pass an examination. Master Automotive Technicians must be certified in all eight specialties to obtain ASE certification. For more information, go to the U.S. Department of Labor's Career InfoNet Web site and scroll down to "Career Tools." Click on "Certification Finder" and follow the instructions to locate certification programs.
Where Can I Find Training?
There are two ways to search for training information:
- Search by Field of Study to find what programs are available and what schools offer those programs. You may use keywords such as: Automobile, Automotive, Diesel, and Vehicle.
- Search by Training Provider to find schools by name, type of school, or location.
Contact the schools you are interested in to learn about the classes available, tuition and fees, and any prerequisite course work.
Where Would I Work?
Automobile Service Technicians primarily work in the following industries: Automobile Dealers; Automotive Repair and Maintenance; and Auto Parts, Accessories, and Tire Stores. The largest industries employing Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics are as follows:
|Industry Title||Percent of Total Employment for Occupation in California|
|Automotive Repair and Maintenance ||35.2%|
|Automobile Dealers ||31.4%|
|Auto Parts, Accessories, and Tire Stores ||8.7%|
|Local Government ||1.9%|
|Gasoline Stations ||1.5%|
Finding a Job
Direct application to employers remains one of the most effective job search methods. Many vocational schools operate placement centers for their students. Jobs may also be found through classified advertisemetns in newspapers and trade publications. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at www.jobcentral.com and CalJOBSSM at www.caljobs.ca.gov.
To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).
Yellow Page Headings
You can focus your local job search by checking employers listed online or in your local telephone directory. Below are some suggested headings where you might find employers of Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics.
- Automobile Customizing
- Automobile Diagnostic Service
- Automobile Electrical Service
- Automobile Machine Shop Service
- Automobile Oil & Lubrication Services
- Automobile Repairing & Service
- Automobile Smog, Brake & Lamp Inspection & Repair
- Brake Service
Find Possible Employers
To locate a list of employers in your area, go to "Find Employers" on the Labor Market Information Web site:
- Select one of the top industries that employ the occupation. This will give you a list of employers in that industry in your area.
- Click on "View Filter Selections" to limit your list to specific cities or employer size.
- Click on an employer for the street address, telephone number, size of business, Web site, etc.
- Contact the employer for possible employment.
Where Could This Job Lead?
Entry-level employees usually start as trainee technicians, technicians’ helpers or lubrication workers. They gradually learn and practice their skills by working with experienced Technicians. It generally takes two to five years of work experience to become a journey-level Service Technician that can complete the more difficult types of service and repairs. Complex specialties, such as transmission repair require another year or two of training and experience.
Experienced Automotive Service Technicians with leadership ability may advance to shop supervisor or service manager. Technicians with management, business skills, and sufficient funds, sometimes open their own shops.
Below is a list of occupations related to Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics with links to more information.
|Aircraft Mechanics and Service Technicians||Profile|
|Automotive Body and Related Repairers||Profile|
|Engine and Other Machine Assemblers||Profile|
|Farm Equipment Mechanics||Profile|
|Helpers--Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Workers||Profile|
|Industrial Machinery Mechanics||Profile|
|Inspectors, Testers, Sorters, Samplers, and Weighers||Guide|
|Small Engine Mechanics||Profile|
These links are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement by EDD.
For the Career Professional
The following codes are provided to assist counselors, job placement workers, or other career professionals.