California is a beautiful state, from the redwoods to the cliffs and the desert to the beaches, and the 39 million California residents need their cars in good working order to make sure they can get from one legendary geographical feature to another. Good mechanics are in high demand in the Golden State, and programs at automotive schools in California can teach you how to keep all those wheels turning and engines humming for years to come.
What's the Career Opportunity for California Mechanics?
California is home to the highest number of auto mechanic positions of any state in the country, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Graduates of training programs at mechanic schools in California filled 60,440 automotive jobs at garages, dealerships, parts warehouses and service shops in the state in 2014, with the southernmost third of the state making up the largest portion of employment.
California auto mechanic career opportunity is greatest in the Los Angeles metro area, according to BLS figures, with 14,820 positions active between LA, Long Beach and Glendale in 2014. That figure was high enough to place the LA area in the No. 1 spot nationwide for its number of working auto techs, edging out New York City by around 500 jobs.
What Training and Certification Do I Need to Become a Mechanic in California?
Students of automotive training programs at mechanic schools in California can typically choose among a variety of study plans, each of which may lead to a career diploma, professional certificate, associate degree or other credential. Diploma and certificate programs typically take less time to finish than associate degrees, but associate programs also include some general education coursework that may transfer to a four-year college if you decide to go further in your education after graduating.
Each one of the auto mechanic training programs sets its own curriculum, but the following subjects are common among programs that cover the full range of vehicle systems:
- Engine performance
- Engine repair
- Ignition systems
- Fuel systems
- Manual transmissions
- Automatic transmissions
- Automotive electrical
- Steering and suspension
- Preventative maintenance
- Emissions controls
Read more about an automotive mechanic's job description. Certification is one of the most trusted ways for a mechanic to illustrate their skill and experience to employers and customers, and graduates of automotive schools in California can look to the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) for certification in a variety of vehicle systems. Besides such subjects as those mentioned above, ASE certification tests cover specialty areas like hybrid/electric vehicles, alternate fuels, advanced engine performance and undercar/exhaust systems.
What's the Auto Mechanic Salary in California?
The BLS also reported that California had one of the highest average annual auto mechanic salaries in the U.S. in 2014, with a statewide median of $40,480 for the year and an mean monthly wage of $3,686 the same year. The bottom 10 percent of earners in the state pulled in up to $22,630 annually, while the top 10 percent made $70,860 or more.
Individual metro areas also had different average salary expectations than the statewide median. Here's a sampling of what mechanics were earning in various parts of California in 2014:
- San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos: $42,890
- Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale: $38,660
- San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara: $51,980
- Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Roseville: $46,790
- Bakersfield-Delano: $40,620
The highest-paying metro area in California was San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, where mechanics earned a mean salary of $54,230 in 2014.
What's the Job Growth and Industry Outlook?
Employment forecast for students of mechanic schools in California is as sunny as can be, with a projected 15 percent job growth expected to lead to more than 9,000 new jobs in the field between 2012 and 2022. Here's a list of the raw job gains expected for individual California metro areas during the same period:
- Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale: 2,223
- Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario: 1,113
- San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos: 789
- San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City: 519
- San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara: 477
The BLS expects that formally trained mechanics from auto schools will have better prospects than those who hope to get their training on the job, especially at dealerships and other locations that service primarily late-model vehicles.
How Can I Enroll in Automotive Schools in California?
There are auto mechanic schools in all parts of California, and interested students only have to get in touch with them to find out what it takes to enroll. Pick out a few schools from our listings below, make contact with their admissions department via phone or email and get started on the road to a strong, steady career as a mechanic in California.
- California, State & County QuickFacts, U.S. Census Bureau, asdf, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/06000.html
- Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics, Occupational Employment and Wages, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, asdf, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes493023.htm
- Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, asdf, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/automotive-service-technicians-and-mechanics.htm
- School pages, asdf: Automotive Technician, San Bernardino Valley College, http://www.valleycollege.edu/academic-career-programs/degrees-certificates/automotive-tech/automotive-tech-cert; Automotive Technology, Reedley College, http://www.reedleycollege.edu/index.aspx?page=911; Automotive Technician Training, United Education Institute, http://www.uei.edu/programs/uei-college/automotive-technician; Automotive Mechanical Repair, Cerritos College, http://cms.cerritos.edu/uploads/Auto/auto_roadmap_2015.pdf;
- Test Series, National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, asdf, http://www.ase.com/Tests/ASE-Certification-Tests/Test-Series.aspx
- Occupational Projections of Employment, State of California Employment Development Department, asdf, http://www.labormarketinfo.edd.ca.gov/cgi/dataanalysis/AreaSelection.asp?tableName=Occprj