Let me guess…you got dirty as a kid.
You got your hands filthy in the dirt and probably got in trouble when you wiped them all over your mom’s carpet. If you were the kid that broke your toys with the best intentions–just to put them back together and fix them again, then you’d probably make a great car mechanic. But why be a mechanic? What do mechanics do? And maybe MOST importantly, how much does an auto mechanic make? Gear up to get all those questions answered and more.
Why car mechanics are important–now and for the future.
We will probably never forget the first time we got into our first car accident. It is an incredibly scary thing–especially if we hurt ourselves or others and caused damage to our vehicle or someone else’s car. Auto body shops are there to make sure your car gets serviced after an accident, but they’re also there to inspect, maintain, and perform the proper procedures to make sure your car continues running safely and smoothly.
Americans love their cars and they are driving more than ever before. A report issued last year forecasted overall driving per capita from 23 to 27 percent over the next 30 years (Scientific American). More people on the road means a bigger need for knowledgeable mechanics and the outlook is great for those looking for work in the automotive industry.
So what does a mechanic DO on a daily basis?
On any given workday, automotive service technicians–also known as car mechanics, service techs, or auto mechanics–may change oil, rotate tires, or check fluid levels. They will do routine checks of vehicles using diagnostic equipment or they may be be replacing worn brake pads. Checking the suspension, steering, and braking are key parts of doing any proper automotive inspection. And when the temperature spikes in the summer, they will definitely be inspecting the HVAC system to be sure that the A/C units are working to keep drivers cool. Communication is a big part of the job too–either directly with the customer concerning the nature of maintenance jobs, and to other team members for larger repair jobs that require more time, technical procedures, and experience.
Let’s talk DINERO. How much does a mechanic make?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national average hourly wage of an automotive service technician or mechanic is $19.90. In Texas, it’s even better. Yearly, a mechanic’s salary is $41,760, which is a rate of $20.08 / hour. That’s nearly 2.8X higher than the current hourly minimum wage of $7.25.
That’s the difference of a large pepperoni pizza–about $13–EVERY HOUR. So let’s do the math. You could be delivering pizzas for minimum wage, or earning almost 3X as much fixing cars and automotive problems that make the world run faster and more efficiently. Hungry to learn more? Read on…
How do you know if you would make a great automotive service technician?
If you love cars, that’s a great start. Not only do you love the way a six-cylinder engine feels and sounds when you pump the gas pedal, but you are curious about the way it works. Maybe you fooled around in the garage growing up, tinkering under the hood with family or friends or liked building things as a child like Michael did. Michael, one of SCI’s automotive apprenticeship students, couldn’t find a passion in any job until he started working for O’Reilly Auto Parts. Something clicked for him as he started learning about all the equipment that goes into auto body repair and he thought, “this is what I really want to do.”
Watch Michael’s full video below.
You might be thinking to yourself “OK, THIS IS COOL, I want to learn how to fix cars. Where do I start? Are there automotive mechanic schools out there?”
There are a lot of trade schools and programs you can take to learn how to repair and service cars, but not all of them are accredited or get you to a point where you are prepared to get your license or certifications. Nearly all dealerships and auto body repair shops prefer technicians to have an ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) Certification, and many require it for new hires.
You could start googling articles online and maybe helping out friends that work on cars, but the best way to go is to get paid to learn. That’s right. Southern Careers Institute offers an automotive service technician apprenticeship that lets you “Learn While You Earn” with paid, on-the-job training. The way it works is through partnerships with dealerships and automotive service companies and an intensive program that can be completed in as little as 9 months. See–a little black under the fingernails isn’t so bad if it means it is earning you more green!