The U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that the number of available jobs for auto techs will increase by more than 47,000 between 2016 and 2026, which works out to an increase of about 6 percent. What's more, recent projections by individual states have shown an expectation of growth at a rate as much as five times faster than the national average.
If current trends continue to hold, the employers hiring for a large portion of those new tech jobs will prefer candidates with formal education from automotive technician schools. Read on for some details on what you can expect from training programs at automotive technology schools across the country.
What are the Benefits of Attending Automotive Technician Training Schools?
There are a few different types of education programs in automotive technology. Hands-on training centers that offer diploma or certificate programs typically focus on strictly career-oriented courses, while schools that award students an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree upon completion often include a certain amount of math, life science, liberal arts and other general education coursework.
Whichever type of program you choose, gaining a general understanding of an entire vehicle from the headlights to the tailpipe can help you quite a bit when it comes to employment prospects and on-the-job success. Here's a list of the topics that a full-vehicle automotive technician training typically covers:
- Steering and suspension
- Automotive climate control
- Engine repair
- Engine performance
- Instrumentation and diagnostics
- Manual drive train and axles
- Automatic transmission/transaxle
- Ignition systems
- Lubrication and cooling
- Automotive computer systems
The National Automotive Technician Education Foundation (NATEF) points out that automotive service and repair has changed in a big way since the millennium turned, and understanding the sophisticated technology used in today's vehicles is a must for mechanics hoping to land the best jobs in the current market. Automotive technology schools accredited by NATEF are held to rigorous contemporary standards for program structure and instructional resources and designed to provide a top-quality education year over year.
What Salaries Can Graduates of Automotive Technology Schools Earn?
Bureau of Labor Statistics figures indicate that the national average annual wage for automotive service technicians and mechanics was $41,400 in 2016, although techs employed in different segments of the economy earned a range of different average salaries. Those working at auto dealerships, for example, took home a national mean of $44,770 the same year, while those who used their skills to repair and maintain express delivery vehicles made a comfortable annual figure of $63,510.
Different states and regions also provided a range of salary figures for professionals with automotive technician training. Here's a quick list of average salaries in some of the highest-paying metro areas for automotive technicians in 2016, according to the BLS:
|Metro Area||Auto Tech Salary in 2016|
|San Francisco, CA||$55,89|
|Ann Arbor, MI||$54,620|
|San Jose, CA||$53,620|
|Grand Junction, CO||$53,500|
Amount of education or tenure on the job can also influence the range of salaries offered to automotive technicians, particularly when it comes to positions with specialized knowledge or skill requirements. Although the BLS doesn't report on salary averages by specific level of education or experience, a 2016 report showed that the top 25 percent of automotive technology pros earned $52,120 or more while the top 10 percent took home better than $64,070 for the year.
How Can You Find Automotive Technician Schools?
NATEF provides a program search tool though which you can explore its database of accredited programs, and we've provided our own list of automotive technician schools below for your browsing pleasure. Pick out one, two or several schools that look right for you, get in touch with an admissions representative and find out how you can get started on the road to a great career.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, accessed February 28, 2016: Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/automotive-service-technicians-and-mechanics.htm; Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics, Occupational Employment and Wages, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes493023.htm, accessed November 2017
- Program Standards, National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation, accessed February 28, 2016, http://www.natef.org/Achieving-Accreditation/Program-Standards.aspx
- School pages, accessed February 28, 2016: Program Requirements, Automotive Technology Associate of Applied Science Degree, Gateway Technical School, https://www.gtc.edu/sites/default/files/files/curriculum-sheet/2016/10-602-3%20Automotive%20Technology%20Curriculum%20Sheet%20%202016-17_0.pdf; Online Automotive Technician Training, Penn Foster Career School, http://www.pennfoster.edu/programs-and-degrees/automotive-and-engine-repair/auto-repair-technician-career-diploma; Automotive Technology Training Program, Universal Technical Institute, http://www.uti.edu/programs/automotive