The national employment forecast produced by the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that jobs for automotive service technicians or those with an auto mechanic career are expected to increase 9 percent between 2012 and 2022, causing about 82,000 new positions to open up nationwide. Approximately one in four of those jobs should appear in the field of diesel engine and large vehicle service -- think RVs, buses and long-haul commercial trucks -- which requires specialized auto mechanic training on top of the basics needed to work on passenger cars and trucks.
A separate projection for auto body workers and auto glass installers indicates an occupational increase of 13 percent by 2022. With the smaller overall number of workers employed in these fields at the time of the projection, however, the raw job gains are expected to top out closer to 23,000 total new positions.
Top states for auto mechanic careers
Despite the nationwide projection hovering close to the average for the overall career market during the same period, some states expect much faster rates of increase than the national figure. Here's a list of five individual states with particularly strong demand projections for auto mechanic jobs over the next several years:
- Utah: 23.3 percent
- Colorado: 20.0 percent
- Texas: 17.7 percent
- California: 15.0 percent
- Idaho: 14.9 percent
What's more, things get especially interesting if you're willing to let your auto mechanic career path take you to a tropical island. The U.S. island territories of Guam and Puerto Rico each report growth projections for auto mechanic careers that rival those in the top 5 mainland states. In fact, the expected 32.8 percent growth among auto mechanic jobs in Guam is a faster rate than any other state or territory that reported regional job projections in 2012.
Emerging jobs aren't the only ones out there, either. Metro areas with a high number of auto mechanic careers already on the market can be fertile ground for someone just starting out in the industry. Here are the six metros in the U.S. with more than 10,000 working mechanics in 2014, according to BLS data:
- Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA: 14,820
- New York-White Plains-Wayne, NY-NJ: 14,350
- Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, IL: 13,900
- Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA: 13,090
- Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX: 10,480
- Philadelphia, PA: 10,030
Also, even though Florida doesn't have a metro area represented in the top 10 regions for auto mechanic jobs, the Sunshine State as a whole placed third in overall statewide employment.
The right skills for a changing market
BLS analysts suggest that the general upward trend in the number of vehicles in active use will drive a portion of the expected employment growth, particularly among entry-level positions in brake repair, oil and lube and other routine maintenance positions. Since these positions tend not to require much formal training, however, the pool of applicants is often large and competition can be fairly strong.
Auto mechanic careers haven't been immune to the tech boom of the last decade or so, and service bays that work on these new high-tech cars are reportedly discovering that qualified mechanics are in short supply. Taking the time to earn the skills necessary to work on hybrid fuel systems, on-board computers and other advanced automotive tech can give a huge boost to your prospects on the job market.
What's more, technological advancements in oil, gas, filters, engine fluids and other consumables are allowing early-model cars to last longer than most people expect, so high-tech skills aren't the only ones in demand among employers. Whatever type of vehicle you plan to work on, earning auto mechanic certifications in one or more areas can be great for your job prospects, particularly among employers seeking specialized technicians with proven qualifications.
- Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, accessed August 24, 2015: Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/automotive-service-technicians-and-mechanics.htm; Diesel Service Technicians and Mechanics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Installation-Maintenance-and-Repair/Diesel-service-technicians-and-mechanics.htm; Auto Body and Glass Repairers, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Installation-Maintenance-and-Repair/Automotive-body-and-glass-repairers.htm
- Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics, Employment Trends by Occupation Across States, Career InfoNet, accessed August 24, 2015, http://www.careerinfonet.org/carout3.asp?optstatus=101000000&id=1&nodeid=2&soccode=493023&stfips=01&jobfam=49&menuMode=&order=Percent
- Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, accessed August 24, 2015, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes493023.htm