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Automotive Service Technician Duties and Responsibilities

While the automotive service technician's responsibilities can change from day to day and level of experience, most share several essential duties:

Perform Maintenance and Repairs The primary duty of an automotive service technician is performing routine, scheduled, and emergency maintenance and repairs. This can range from simple tasks such as changing oil and rotating tires to complex operations such as transmission repair or replacement and engine rebuilds, depending on the automotive service technician's area of specialization and level of expertise.

Repair and Replace Vehicle Parts Automotive service technicians also repair and replace parts of vehicles that have worn out or are in danger of failure. This can include belts and hoses, as well as critical elements of vehicles such as engine parts. In this aspect of the role, the automotive service technician examines the parts and determines whether they can be repaired or if they pose an imminent safety hazard and should be replaced. The automotive service technician also ensures that replacement parts are correctly installed and functioning as expected.

Diagnose Mechanical and Electrical Issues Diagnosis is another major part of the automotive service technician's role. Using both electronic tools and visual inspections, along with issues reported by the customer, the automotive service technician determines the cause of vehicle issues or malfunctions. They may also perform a series of tests to eliminate possible causes of vehicle problems and ensure that they are correcting the right problem.

Provide Customer Service and Support Automotive service technicians also interact directly with customers, providing them with information about vehicle problems and necessary maintenance tasks. This aspect of the role also involves preparing estimates and price quotes based on parts and service hours and providing the customer with options regarding replacement parts. Automotive service technicians also ensure that customers are fully informed about costs and options and agree to services before work begins.

Maintain Customer and Vehicle Records Many automotive service technicians also maintain customer and vehicle records, working with printed copies of service records and computerized data. This part of the job can involve creating new customer records, maintaining vehicle information, reviewing registration and insurance details, and updating customer records to reflect recent service work and current vehicle and driver information.

Oversee Shop Safety and Cleanliness Automotive service technicians also maintain safe and clean shops by removing parts and tools from work areas and adhering to safety protocols. This includes following established procedures for safe disposal of motor oil, tires, and other vehicle fluids. Additionally, an automotive service technician may monitor mechanics and assistants to ensure that they safely remove hazardous materials and return tools to shared workspaces.


Automotive Service Technician Skills and Qualifications

Automotive service technicians repair and maintain a variety of vehicles. Most workers in this role have some post-secondary education and the following skills:
  • Automotive mechanics - automotive service technicians need extensive familiarity with automotive systems and mechanical elements, along with some experience with computerized elements of vehicles
  • Diagnostics and troubleshooting - this role requires strong diagnostic skills, some exposure to using on-board diagnostic (OBD) technologies, and the ability to identify mechanical issues to ensure that repairs are successful
  • Team collaboration - automotive service technicians generally work with teams of mechanics and assistants, so team collaboration and leadership are vital in this role
  • Attention to detail - workers in this role should also possess a high level of attention to detail to ensure that they correctly diagnose mechanical or electrical issues and make proper repairs to keep vehicles running safely
  • Communication skills - automotive service technicians should also be strong communicators, especially when working directly with customers to discuss automotive issues and propose solutions

Automotive Service Technician Education and Training

While some automotive service technicians begin their careers with a high school diploma or GED, most employers prefer candidates who have completed some post-secondary education. Typically, automotive service technicians attend community colleges or technical or vocational schools to gain the skills necessary for this career. These programs typically last between six months and one year, although some automotive service technicians opt for more comprehensive associate degree programs. There are many opportunities for on-the-job training in this role as automotive service technicians gain expertise and familiarity with best practices.

Automotive Service Technician Salary and Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), automotive service technicians and mechanics earned a median annual wage of $39,550 as of May 2017. The highest-paid automotive service technicians earned more than $65,430 per year, while the lowest-paid ten percent earned less than $22,610 per year. The BLS expects employment in this field to grow at an average pace of six percent between 2016 and 2026.

Helpful Resources

If you'd like to learn more about working as an automotive service technician, we found many helpful resources on the web:

Automotive Service Association (ASA) - automotive service technicians can join the ASA to access professional development materials, read industry news, and connect with professionals.

Automotive Service: Inspection, Maintenance, Repair by Tim Gilles - this thorough guidebook provides valuable information on diagnosing mechanical problems and servicing cars and trucks.

Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) Certification Tests - the ASE offers certification exams for automotive technicians, with a wide variety of focus areas and specializations available.

Introduction to Automotive Service by James D. Halderman and Darrell Deeter - read this book to learn the fundamentals of automotive repair and maintenance to prepare for a career as an automotive service technician.

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