Careers and Employment Outlook What does an automotive technician do?The Automotive Applied Technology program offers intensive career preparation through a combination of classroom instruction and hands-on practice. Manufacturers provide late-model cars on which students can practice skills and ensure the automotive program teachers the latest automotive technology. The curriculum is updated frequently to reflect changing technology and equipment. Automotive technicians repair and service automobiles and occasionally light trucks, such as vans and pickups, with gasoline engines. Automotive technology is rapidly increasing in sophistication, and most training authorities strongly recommend that persons seeking employment as automotive technicians complete a formal training program. The ability to diagnose the source of the problem quickly and accurately is one of the technicians most valuable skills. It requires good reasoning ability and a thorough knowledge of automobiles. Many technicians consider diagnosing “hard to find” troubles in one of their most challenging and satisfying duties. When mechanical or electrical troubles occur, technicians first get a description of the symptoms from the owner. During routine service, technicians inspect, lubricate, and adjust engines and other components, repairing or replacing parts before they cause break downs. They usually follow a checklist to make sure they examine all the important parts, such as belts, hoses, steering systems, spark plugs, brake and fuel systems, wheel bearings, and other potentially troublesome items. Automotive technicians have increasingly become specialized in certain areas in their field. Certification by Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) is widely recognized as a standard of achievement for automotive technicians. Technicians are certified in one or more of eight different service areas, such as electrical systems, engine repair, brake systems, suspension and steering, and heating and air conditioning. Master automotive mechanics are certified in all eight areas. For certification in each area, technicians must pass a written examination and have at least two years of experience (two years of school count as one year of experience). To retain certification, technicians must retake the tests at least every five years. Employers increasingly send experienced automotive technicians to manufacturer training centers to learn to repair new models or to receive special training in the repair of components such as electronic fuel injection or air-conditioners. Employers look for technicians with good reading, basic mathematics, and computer skills who can study technical manuals to keep abreast of new technology. Automotive technicians are expected to have their own tools. Employers furnish power tools, engine analyzers, and other test equipment. Earnings Median hourly wages of automotive service technicians and mechanics, including commission, were $16.88 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $12.44 and $22.64 per hour. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $9.56, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $28.71 per hour. For more information visit Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition.