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 and mechanics are expected to increase 6 percent between 2016 and 2026, causing about 47,600 new positions to open up nationwide. Projections for the related fields of auto body workers and auto glass installers indicate respective employment increases between 7.8 and 9.2 percent by 2026.
For diesel service technicians and mechanics — think RVs, buses and long-haul commercial trucks — the projected job growth rate of 10 percent means approximately 26,500 new jobs will be available by 2026.
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 six individual states with particularly strong demand projections for auto mechanic jobs over the next several years:
- Utah: 24.8 percent
- Florida: 19.3 percent
- Colorado: 19.0 percent
- Texas: 18.6 percent
- Arizona: 16.0 percent
- Nevada: 15.0 percent
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 five metros in the U.S. with more than 10,000 working mechanics in 2016, according to BLS data:
- New York-Jersey City-White Plains, NY-NJ: 18,000
- Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA: 15,630
- Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights, IL: 15,040
- Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA: 12,610
- Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX: 10,640
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 second 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.
- Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, 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, accessed November 2017
- Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes493023.htm, accessed November 2017
- Projections Central, http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm, accessed November 2017