Nature of Work
Automotive service technicians inspect, maintain, and repair automobiles and light trucks that run on gasoline, diesel, or alternative fuels such as ethanol. They perform basic care maintenance, diagnose problems, and plan and execute vehicle repairs. The responsibilities of automotive service technicians and mechanics have evolved from simple mechanical repairs to high-level technology-related work. Today, integrated electronic systems and complex computers regulate vehicles and their performance while on the road. This increasing sophistication of automobiles requires workers to use computerized shop equipment and work with electronic components while maintaining their skills with traditional hand tools. Technicians must have a broad knowledge of how vehicles' complex components work and interact.
To locate problems, technicians use a diagnostic approach. They first test to see whether components and systems are secure and working properly. They then isolate the components or systems that might be the cause of the problems. Service technicians use a variety of tools in their work. They use pneumatic wrenches and other power tools to remove bolts quickly, machine tools like lathes and grinding machines to rebuild brakes, welding and flame-cutting equipment to remove and repair exhaust systems, and jacks and hoists to lift cars and engines.
Automotive service technicians and mechanics held about 739,900 jobs nationally in 2014. Automotive repair and maintenance shops and automobile dealers employed the majority of these workers, with 32 percent working in shops and 29 percent employed by dealers. In addition, automotive parts, accessories, and tire stores employed 9 percent of automotive service technicians. Others worked in gasoline stations; automotive equipment rental and leasing companies; federal, state, and local governments; and other organizations. About 14 percent of service technicians were self-employed. Employment of automotive service technicians and mechanics is expected to increase by 5 percent nationally from 2014 through 2024.