Information updated June 2014.
By Charles K. Green
What automotive technicians and car mechanics earn.
Automotive service technicians and mechanics are trained to diagnose, adjust and repair vehicles, performing work ranging from accomplishing oil changes to handling complex engine and transmission overhauls. These professionals, numbering more than 700,000 people as of 2013, often receive training through technical schools with follow up training on the job and through select training programs. As of 2013, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports an average annual wage of $36,710 for such professionals.
Automotive Service Technicians Average Pay
Pay for automotive professionals including mechanics and service technicians ranges from $20,900 per year for those in the 10th percentile to $61,200 for those in the 90th percentile. Most workers likely made somewhere between the 25th and 75th percentile, earning $27,200 to $48,900 per year. The median average salary for these workers was $36,700 according to the BLS.
Largest Industries for Employment
Nearly two-thirds of all technicians and mechanics are concentrated in two industries: automotive repair and maintenance businesses and automobile dealers. Those working in the former earned an annual mean wage of $33,230; those employed in the latter earned $41,360.
Other industries employing significant numbers of technicians and mechanics included automotive parts, accessories and tire stores where such workers averaged $31,250 per year. Those working for local governments including towns and cities could expect to earn $47,240 per year. Gasoline and related service stations paid $31,090 per year on average.
Salaries By Location
Where you live can have a huge bearing on what you can earn as an automotive service technician or car mechanic.
Among states, Alaska offered the highest wages, with such workers earning $51,200 per year. New Jersey, Hawaii and Washington followed with pay ranging from $42,100 to $43,700 per year. On the lower end of the pay spectrum were such states as West Virginia where wages averaged $29,400 per year. Mississippi at $31,200 and Arkansas at $31,100 were other states where average salaries were well below the national mean.
Important for this industry is the training such professionals earn, usually learned at the high school or technical college level. Many employers look for automotive service technicians who have completed such training and may require National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence certification as a condition of employment. Some car manufacturers and franchised automotive dealers sponsor associate degree programs at postsecondary schools across the United States. Such programs typically allow students to alternate their schooling with working in a service department, allowing students to earn a salary and to receive training concurrently.
BLS Job Outlook
The BLS has forecast a 8 to 14 percent growth rate in the number of jobs available for the 10-year period from 2012 to 2022. This rate is nearly equal to the national average for all jobs. For those who complete their secondary training and obtain ASE certification, their prospects are expected to be very good. Having good diagnostic skills and familiarization with today’s complex vehicle systems including hybrid drivetrains is a bonus. Expect positions to continue to open as older workers retire. And, with people keeping their cars longer, the need for trusted mechanics to help keep these vehicles running should remain strong.