Auto technicians service automobiles in a variety of ways. These professionals can specialize in different types of engines such as small engines on motorcycles and power equipment, diesel engines and recreational vehicle engines such as boats. Because of advancing technology in automobiles, automotive technicians obtain vocational training or a two-year degree in automotive technology to prepare for the job. Along with training, many automotive technicians receive ASE certification, which is administered by the National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence.
Some students attend the Universal Technical Institute (UTI), which offers a variety of automotive specializations. The UTI auto tech school has about 10 campuses located in different parts of the United States. UTI offers training in automotive, motorcycle, marine, diesel and collision repair. Many vocational schools and community colleges offer training, of which some specialize in different types of automotive servicing. Students can attend a standard auto mechanic school or a motorcycle mechanic school. Some niche educational institutions work with employers to employ new graduates, such as motorcycle racing franchises and teams. A specialized diesel mechanic school offers specific training related to diesel engines, which are typically used in transit buses and large trucks. All types of vehicles require the skills of a qualified automotive technician to keep them running at their peak performance.
ASE certification is a standard in the industry today and many employers prefer those who obtain this credential. ASE offers a variety of tests for new and experienced automotive service technicians. To become certified, automotive technicians must pass at least one of over 40 tests in a variety of automotive service specialty areas. The certification tests require at least two years of education and one year of work experience, but those new to automotive servicing can choose from two standard tests until they gain experience: the maintenance and inspection program or the refrigerant recovery program. After gaining the required experience, automotive technicians can select from the 40 tests to become credentialed as an ASE certified technician. ASE also offers the ASE master technician credential, which requires passing a series of tests in a specific specialty area such as automobile repair, collision repair, medium/heavy truck repair, school bus, transit bus and truck equipment repair.
Attending an auto mechanic school and obtaining one of the many ASE credentials can lead to an exciting career. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that automotive technicians earn average salaries ranging from $32,000 to $42,000 per year, depending on the specialty area.