Job: Automotive Service Tech

By , March 23, 2010

Automotive Service Technician

Vroom, vroom . . . putt, putt . . . plonk. Your dad makes a face and mutters something about lemons. With a furrowed brow, he tells you he can’t drive you to practice because the car has to go back to the shop for repair.

Motor vehicle technicians can save your family’s “lemon” from the junk heap. They inspect, diagnose, repair, and service mechanical, electrical, and electronic parts and systems of motor vehicles. Mechanical repairers usually work in factories repairing and replacing units on newly assembled vehicles.

Fueling the Trades

Some people really have the mind for it–and the hands, too. If you’re the kind of person who can understand and explain how and why a motor works, you’re one of the lucky few. A lot of technicians and repairers also make cars their hobby.

With all of the complex repair and maintenance machinery used and the new technology built into modern automotive components, knowledge of electronics is increasingly desirable in a mechanic. In fact, the new developments in engines, transmissions and suspension systems, and the increased use of electronic components are changing the mechanic’s job into that of a technician, with more emphasis on vehicle diagnosis. Strong analytical and diagnostic skills are required to trouble-shoot problems, and communication and customer relations skills will also be required to advise customers on what has been done and why, general vehicle conditions and future repair requirements.

Many auto technicians specialize in particular vehicle systems, such as engine, fuel, or transmission systems, or air conditioning, or brakes. They fix other vehicles such as trucks and buses, too. Technicians who work in small shops generally tend to perform a wider variety of tasks than those in larger shops.

Specific Duties

Automotive Service Technicians perform some or all of the following duties:

  • Review work orders from customers and discuss the work with a supervisor.
  • Inspect motors while they’re running, and road test cars, automotive systems and components, using various devices to help diagnose and isolate problems.
  • Adjust, repair or replace parts and components of automotive systems (including fuel, brake, steering and suspension systems; transmissions; emission-control and exhaust systems; engines; and electrical, cooling and climate-control systems).
  • Test and adjust repaired systems to car manufacturer’s performance specifications.
  • Perform scheduled maintenance service (such as oil changes, lubrications and tune-ups), and advise customers on the work carried out, general vehicle condition and future repair requirements.

Tuning Up (Education & Training)

  • Grade 12 education is preferred
  • To work as an automotive service technician in BC, it is mandatory to either hold a Certificate of Apprenticeship or Qualification in the trade, or be registered in a four-level apprenticeship that will lead to certification and be working under a licensed Automotive Service Technician. The four level apprenticeship process requires time spent on the job and in-school training.
  • After completion of apprenticeship training, a passing grade on the interprovincial exam will result in the BC Certificate of Apprenticeship, the BC Certificate of Qualification, and the Interprovincial Standard Endorsement, also known as Red Seal.
  • An aptitude for computers is becoming essential. Good communication, analytical skills, problem solving skills, working in a team environment, planning and efficiency are key aspects of the job.
  • Manual dexterity and good hand-eye coordination. Furthermore, good physical condition since heavy lifting and climbing may be required.
  • To remain competitive, it’s important to update your skills after becoming a technician to respond to changes in technology, especially as more electronic components and computers are used in this industry.

Employer Workplace

  • Transportation companies and private shops involved in fleet maintenance
  • Motor vehicle and parts manufacturers
  • Automobile dealers
  • Automotive service shops
  • Trucking companies
  • Public transit commissions
  • Motor vehicles wholesalers
  • Automotive parts and accessories stores
  • Work Environment

    Mechanics are employed in a number of sectors of the economy. The majority work in repair shops, at car dealerships and in the service departments of industrial, manufacturing and resource-based companies that have large motor vehicle fleets. Though the work can be dirty, most of it is done indoors. Shift and weekend work is sometimes required, as many repair shops are now open late to better serve their clients. It’s a challenging career as each vehicle presents a unique and distinct set of problems.

    Job Titles

  • Alignment & Brakes Technician
  • Automotive Electronic Accessory Technicians
  • Automobile or truck mechanic
  • Automotive service technician
  • Fuel & electrical systems technicians
  • Tire wheel and rim mechanics
  • Transmission technicians
  • Truck trailer service technicians
  • Tune-up specialist–motor vehicle
  • Career Path

    After they have lots of experience and they’ve acquired some business smarts, many technicians open up their own shops. Optional paths to follow include running a car dealership or an auto parts store, or managing a service station. A mobile society is one that requires a lot of automotive service, today and in the future!

    Dollars and Sense

    Generally, apprentices earn at least 50 percent of the prevailing journeyperson’s wage in the first period, 60 percent in the second, 70 percent in the third and 80 percent in the fourth. The average wage for a qualified Automotive Service Technician is $20 -$25 an hour.

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