What to Know About Being an Auto Mechanic

portrait of Juliann Scholl
by Juliann Scholl

Updated July 9, 2022

Share this Article
What to Know About Being an Auto Mechanic

People who possess dexterity, customer service and troubleshooting skills, and an aptitude for working with machines might enjoy working as an auto mechanic. These professionals inspect, service, and repair the vehicles that most people rely on in their work and personal lives.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), auto mechanics made a median annual salary of $44,050 as of May 2020 — about $2,000 higher than the median annual salary for all workers.

www.bestcolleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Ready to start your journey?

What Is an Auto Mechanic?

Also called service techs or automotive service technicians, auto mechanics inspect, maintain, and repair cars and most pickup trucks. More specifically, most auto mechanics test, repair, and replace parts and help customers understand the repairs their vehicles require. They also perform maintenance tasks like oil changes, tire rotations, and fluid checks.

Auto manufacturing constantly evolves with the introduction of new technologies, including computerized components and the emergence of electric cars. Auto mechanics must stay abreast of these changes and continue to familiarize themselves with these innovations, even if they work on more conventional engines and automotive systems.

These professionals must also be able to use various tools, especially computerized mechanisms, in order to diagnose, repair, and maintain increasingly sophisticated vehicles and their components.

What Training Does an Auto Mechanic Need?

You can pursue entry-level auto mechanic careers after taking high school classes in electronics, computers, automotive repair, and mathematics. While these courses offer the fundamental skills that auto mechanics need, high school graduates should also obtain on-the-job training as helpers, lubrication workers, or trainee technicians to develop their qualifications.

Most employers prefer to hire mechanics with vocational or postsecondary training. Some programs allow students to finish their education in 6-12 months, and most programs include both coursework and practical training. Aspiring auto mechanics can also earn certificates in specializations like engine performance and brake maintenance.

Some auto mechanics obtain associate degrees to increase their job prospects. Associate programs typically offer coursework in electronics, mathematics, and customer service. Car manufacturers and dealers sometimes sponsor associate degree programs, which allow students to learn the trade and gain experience in service shops.

Some auto mechanics and technicians need to be certified to work. For example, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requires individuals who work with or handle refrigerants to get proper certification. Many employers require their auto mechanics to earn credentials from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence.

What Is the Career Outlook for Auto Mechanics?

The BLS projects that auto mechanics' employment will decline 4% between 2019 and 2029. The emergence of electric cars and vehicles with computerized systems may make repairs and certain types of maintenance less common or unnecessary.

Despite this projected decline, job-seekers with the proper education and experience can pursue positions with independent repair shops and auto dealers. Many service technicians work in these settings, where employers will likely continue to provide job openings.

What Is an Auto Mechanic's Salary Potential?

According to the BLS, auto mechanics made a median wage of $44,050 as of May 2020. Some experienced professionals working for auto dealers earn commissions on top of their labor, which can increase their earning potential significantly. Most professionals working for repair shops earn an hourly wage.

Mechanics who worked for automotive dealerships earned a higher median annual salary of $47,620 in May 2020. On the other hand, mechanics who worked in tire and parts shops earned a median annual salary of $38,370.

Frequently Asked Questions About Being an Auto Mechanic

Is auto mechanic a dying trade?

The increasing number of electric cars may lead to a decreased need for maintenance and mechanical repairs. Also, more new vehicles on the market contain computerized systems that reduce the time it takes for repairs and inspection. However, many cars and trucks still require brake replacement, oil changes, and other services that auto mechanics can perform.

Is being an auto mechanic hard?

Some aspects of an auto mechanic's job present challenges, such as occasional overtime work. Many professionals also stand for most of the day, work with dirty parts, and perform repairs in uncomfortable positions. However, most repair shops offer sufficient light and ventilation

Can auto mechanics make six figures?

The highest 10% of automotive service technicians and mechanics earned an annual salary of more than $71,940 as of May 2020. Six-figure salaries for auto mechanics are uncommon. However, job-seekers might find such positions in areas with auto mechanic shortages or at auto dealerships. Years of experience also impact a professional's earning potential.

Feature Image: JohnnyGreig / E+ / Getty Images

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Compare your school options.

View the most relevant school for your interests and compare them by tuition, programs, acceptance rate, and other factors important to find your college home.