You are driving down the road and your engine starts spewing smoke. A dreaded visit to an automotive service center is necessary. Anyone with a car or truck knows how important routine automotive car is to prevent unexpected break downs. Even with routine care, cars can break down without warning in many cases. The person we rely on to get our cars and trucks running smoothly is an automotive technician. These men and women, more commonly known as auto mechanics, are now finding that with the advent of highly refined computer systems and automotive components their title is changing. As computers take over many of our car parts, mechanics are now being called technicians.

There are many different types of automotive repair technicians. Some work on diesel engines, others handle body shop work, while others stick to small engines like motorcycles and lawn mowers. Regardless of the classification, automotive technicians handle routine maintenance like oil changes, tire rotations, and brake inspections. They can also handle highly detailed work like transmission replacements, head gasket replacements, and electrical failures.

Automotive technicians are highly skilled at diagnosing engine problems. They spend hours learning about the computer systems found in today’s cars. They also learn how to properly determine if a part is reparable or needs replacement.

To become an automotive technician, training is required. There are a number of vocational centers throughout Texas that offer a full training program. Alternately, you can start as an apprentice in an automotive repair shop doing small jobs like changing tires and work your way up. Often, the specialized training is the best route to take. The salary base will be much higher than working as an apprentice.

A typical automotive technician program requires you to successfully complete the following courses.

  • Automatic Transmissions and Transaxles
  • Automotive Braking Systems
  • Automotive Computer Systems
  • Automotive Electronic Systems
  • Automotive Fuel Systems
  • Automotive Heating and Air Conditional Systems
  • Basic Math
  • Business Writing
  • Computer Technology
  • Electrical Systems
  • Engine Performance Analysis
  • Engine Repair
  • Introduction to Automotive Repair and Maintenance
  • Manual Drive Trains
  • Public Speaking
  • Suspension and Steering Systems
  • Understanding Engines

There are other certifications available, however. Some automotive technicians prefer to work on diesel engines. This requires additional courses in diesel engine components, microcomputer systems, ignition systems, and braking systems. The program is far more intense, but salaries are higher.

Many states, including Texas, now require specialized automotive technicians to handle yearly emissions inspections to ensure that pollutants are being filtered within the car or truck’s exhaust system. These automotive technicians must hold special I/M certification enabling them to run the important diagnostic checks that provide car owners with a passed or failed yearly inspection. If the inspection fails, the I/M certified technician must then give an estimate of what is needed to fix the car so that it passes inspection.

Any automotive technician should consider becoming certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). The certification is offered in many specialties:

  • Advanced Engine Performance Specialist
  • Alternate Fuels
  • Automotive/Light Trucks
  • Automobile Service Consultant
  • Collision Repair
  • Damage Analysis
  • Electronic Diesel Engine
  • Engine Machinist
  • Heavy Truck
  • Parts Specialist
  • School Bus
  • Transit Bus
  • Truck Equipment
  • Under car Specialist

ASE’s test fees range from $30 to $70 depending on the type of test and if the test is taking online or in a set location. The more certifications you hold, the better your services will look to potential employers and customers.

Automotive technicians often work far more than forty hours per week. Cars and trucks break down on their schedule and not a normal 9 to 5 workday. For this reason, many automotive repair shops are open on evenings and weekends. Long hours are part of the job. Other important aspects include lifting heavy equipment, so strength is required, and standing on your feet for long hours. Comfortable shoes are necessary!

Because automotive technicians work with parts covered in grit and grime, they can find it impossible to keep their hands and clothing clean. It is important to consider purchasing clothing with stain repelling properties. Many manufacturers specialize in clothing that can resist oil stains.

Salaries will vary depending on the type of automobile technician. A sampling includes:

  Low End of Salary High End of Salary
Basic Automotive Technician $23,000 $60,500
Body Work $25,000 $58,000
Damage Estimator $31,000 $45,000
Diesel Technician $26,000 $57,500
Glass Installer $27,000 $60,000

As the number of vehicles on the roads rise and technology continues to advance, automobile technicians will continue to thrive in their careers. The demand for automobile technicians is strong and continually growing. Average earnings are upwards of $20 per hour. As job duties become more advanced, the salary base will keep growing.

Find a automotive school in Texas by browsing our list of schools.