With a population of nearly 2.2 million people in 2013, the City of Houston is the fourth-largest city in the U.S., trailing only Chicago, New York and Los Angeles, the U.S. Census Bureau reports. The greater Houston metropolitan region also includes several million more people, the City of Houston says, so it's no wonder why there are nearly 5 million registered vehicles in the Texas Department of Transportation's Houston District.
It takes thousands of automobile mechanics to keep that many cars and trucks on the road. Houston auto mechanics and service technicians can perform a wide variety of tasks, including:
- Performing routine maintenance, such as rotating tires and changing dirty oil
- Replacing common wear items, such as brake pads, rotors, fan belts and hoses
- Analyzing, diagnosing and fixing engine or electrical problems
- Rebuilding engines and transmissions
Because of the complexity of today's vehicles, coupled with the fact that automobile dealerships and independent repair shops often prefer to hire mechanics who have completed formal training, many current and prospective mechanics in the Houston area enroll in these programs of mechanic schools in the city.
Auto Mechanic and Automotive Schools in Houston
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job prospects for mechanics are best for graduates of auto mechanic schools. Formal education in the field of automotive service and repair typically includes study in the following areas:
- Emission systems
- Braking and steering systems
- Electrical and fuel systems
- Engine and transmission repair
- General automotive technology
The length of time it takes to complete mechanic schools in Houston varies. Students who enroll in trade or vocational schools often complete their education in as little as six months, the BLS reports. Students who pursue Associate's degrees in Applied Science at community colleges can expect to spend about two years of full time study to complete their education.
There are 28 automotive schools in the greater Houston area, including 11 in the City of Houston, that are accredited by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation, which sets benchmark standards for automotive education programs throughout the country.
Career Outlook and Salary Expectations for Mechanics in Houston
According to the BLS, there were 9,990 mechanics working in the Houston-Sugarland-Baytown metropolitan region in May of 2013. Annual mean wages were just under $40,000, though the top 10 percent of automobile mechanics working in the area earned more than $65,000 annually and the bottom 10 percent took home less than $20,000 per year, the BLS states.
Improvements in automobile technology are keeping cars on the road longer, and as a result job growth for mechanics is slower than many other professions at just 9 percent, or 60,400 new jobs, from 2012 through 2022, the BLS reports. However, the BLS notes, employers often have difficulty finding skilled mechanics, and job prospects should be best for graduates of formal automotive technology education programs. Job prospects also should be strong in the Houston area due to its massive population and the high number of vehicles in the area.
- Houston Facts and Figures, City of Houston, www.houstontx.gov/abouthouston/houston-facts-and-figures
- Houston, Texas, U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/48/4835000.html
- Houston District Statistics, Texas Department of Transportation, www.txdot.gov/inside-txdot/division/finance/discos.html?CFC__target=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.dot.state.tx.us%2Fapps-cg%2Fdiscos%2Fdefault.htm&dist=HOU
- NATEF-accredited schools, Houston, Texas, www.natef.org/NATEF-and-You/Students-Parents/Find-Accredited-Schools.aspx?Address=houston%2c+texas&d=50&t=0&e=1
- Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013, www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes493023.htm
- Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics, Occupational Employment Handbook, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/automotive-service-technicians-and-mechanics.htm