Floridians rely on the state's large workforce of automobile mechanics and service technicians to keep their cars and trucks on the road and working well -- and that's no small task.
According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, there were more than 13.8 million cars and passenger trucks registered in Florida in November of 2014. Broward, Miami-Dade and Orange counties each had more than 1 million registered vehicles, and Hillsborough and Palm Beach counties were just under the 1-million-vehicles mark.
Automobile mechanics perform a wide range of duties. Oftentimes they use sensitive computer diagnostic equipment to identify and troubleshoot mechanical issues. Other times they perform more routine maintenance tasks, such as replacing brake pads, re-packing bearings, or installing new components such as alternators or starters. Mechanics also perform much more labor-intensive repairs, such as fixing damaged engines or transmissions.
An increasingly common path to entry in the field of automotive service and repair is to complete a formal automotive technician training program at an accredited trade or technical school or community college.
Auto mechanic schools in Florida
Students who wish to enter the field of automotive service and repair should consider enrolling in auto mechanic schools in Florida. Many mechanics still learn the craft by working at automotive repair shops, but an increasing number of auto dealerships and service shops won't hire mechanics unless they have completed an accredited training program, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov) reports.
Though many community colleges and trade schools in the state offer training in automotive repair, students might want to look into attending a school certified by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation. Enrolling in a NATEF-accredited school helps ensure that educational programs and the instructors are up-to-date on the latest trends and technologies used in the automotive industry. There are 15 NATEF-accredited schools throughout the state of Florida.
A next logical step upon completion of a formal training program for many auto mechanics in Florida is to earn certification from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. ASE certification shows potential employers that mechanics have documented experience and knowledge of all facets of automotive service and repair.
Coursework at auto mechanic schools in Florida usually is centered around the following subjects:
- Transmission and engine service and repair
- Heating and cooling systems
- Electrical and relates systems
- Drive trains and transaxles
Educational programs vary in length. Certificate-based programs typically take about a year to complete, while programs that culminate in an associate's degree usually take about two years to finish.
Salary and career outlook for Florida auto mechanics
According to the BLS, there were 38,820 automotive service technicians and mechanics working in Florida during May of 2013, the third-highest level of statewide employment in the country.
Mechanics in Florida earned median hourly wages of $16.92, down slightly from the national median average of $17.65 an hour. The top 10 percent of mechanics working in the state took home $57,140 per year, the BLS reports, while the bottom 10 percent earned $20,800 annually.
Naturally, employment is greatest in the state's biggest cities. The St. Petersburg-Tampa-Clearwater region employed 5,850 mechanics and technicians at roughly $37,000 per year on average. The greater Miami-Miami Beach area employed just under 5,000 mechanics at about $35,000 annually, the BLS reports. Employment also was strong in Jacksonville (3,400), Orlando-Kissimmee (4,720) and West Palm Beach-Boca Raton (2,960). Hourly wages were highest in Port St. Lucie, Greater Miami, Naples, Cape Coral-Ft. Meyers and the Tampa region, the BLS notes.
With the field of automotive repair expected to experience just 9 percent growth across the U.S. from 2012 through 2022, mechanics face stiff competition for jobs. Those who have completed accredited auto mechanic training programs and earned certifications from may face better prospects for employment than do mechanics who lack certification and documented education from auto mechanic schools, the BLS reports.
Read more about Auto Mechanic programs in Florida:
Automotive Service Technicians, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013, www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes493023.htm
Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, January 8, 2014, www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/automotive-service-technicians-and-mechanics.htm,
Florida, Bureau of Labor Statistics, State Occupational Employment Wages and Statistics, May 2013, www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_fl.htm
Florida, Department of Motor Vehicles, Registered Vehicles by County, November 1, 2014, http://flhsmv.gov/html/reports_and_statistics/cvr/14-15/cvr-11-2014.pdf
Florida Accredited Schools, NATEF, www.natef.org/NATEF-and-You/Students-Parents/Find-Accredited-Schools.aspx?State=FL&t=2&e=2