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Automotive service technician.

Job Description

Automotive service technicians inspect, diagnose, maintain and repair automobiles and light trucks. No longer referred to as mechanics, these highly skilled technicians now must work with the complex computers and electronic systems that make up today's automobiles. They must perform the maintenance necessary to keep today's high-tech vehicles in optimal running condition, and locate the source of any mechanical or electrical problems using a thorough diagnostic approach.

After diagnosing the problem, the automotive service technician must determine whether parts are repairable or in need of replacement, and then perform the necessary work. The tools used for repair and maintenance may include hand tools, power tools, machine tools, welding equipment, and hoists and jacks. Automotive service technicians also use computerized high-tech equipment--particularly during the diagnostic process.

As automobiles have gotten more complex, specialization has gotten more common. Now there are technicians for areas such as transmissions, tune-ups, brakes and air conditioning.

The Workplace

Automotive service technicians work in motor vehicle dealerships, independent automotive repair shops, and small retail operations offering after-warranty repairs. According to the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook Handbook, while job opportunities in these businesses are growing, automotive service technician jobs in gasoline service stations may continue to decline as fewer of these establishments offer repair services.

Educational Requirements

As might be expected from the increasingly technical nature of the job, fewer automotive service technicians are acquiring their skills and knowledge simply through on-the-job training. The best options are high school, technical school and community college training programs. Students often begin with a high school program and then expand their training through a post secondary institution.

In these programs, future automotive service technicians learn about engine performance, engine reconditioning, suspension and alignment, ignition and fuel systems, and electrical and computer systems. Today's automotive technician training program often includes courses such as physics, mathematics, interpersonal communications, management and marketing.

Earnings

The potential earnings of a well-trained automotive service technician might be described as "excellent." The National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation notes that many technicians across the nation are earning $60,000 and up, and according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, many master technicians earn $70,000 to $100,000 per year. Some earn even more, according to an August 2002 Newsday article that included auto service technicians among those "Breaking the 100K Barrier."

Experienced automotive service technicians may receive an hourly wage plus commissions on labor costs for the work they perform--and often that includes a guaranteed minimum salary.

Job Outlook

With more than 100,000 job openings in the field predicted between now and 2012, it is no wonder that automotive technician made MonsterTRAK's list of "Eight Hot Careers in Two Years." It is frequently found on lists of "hot jobs," and since the overall economic picture usually does not greatly affect the automotive service industry, job prospects in the field should remain excellent.
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Title Annotation:CAREER CURVE
Publication:Techniques
Date:Sep 1, 2005
Words:482
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