There are nearly 175,000 auto repair shops in the United States, and the repair industry employs as many as 670,000 workers. Auto mechanical technicians work at manufacturer service stations, merchandise stores and independent garages. Technicians for the most part fix cars and small trucks, and regular repair work includes oil and lube changes, wheel alignments, A/C repairs, battery recharging, engine and emission control services, spark plug and alternator replacement. Typically, technicians or repair shops charge a flat rate or a fixed amount for each of the repair works. For instance, as of November 2011, in Georgia $30 is a flat rate for an oil change service.
Factors Influencing Income
Experienced and certified technicians tend to earn higher wages than others. Geographic location, the number of customers and the extent of repair work on each vehicle can also affect income. For instance, engine repair work brings more income than an oil change. Auto dealers often hire independent technicians for repair services and, apart from a standard weekly wage, repair workers are paid commission on each new assignment. However, a manufacturer's full-time employee might not receive additional income in commission.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2008, the median hourly wages of automotive service technicians and mechanics, including commission, were $16.88. Most technicians earned from $12.44 to $22.64 per hour. The top 10 percent earned more than $28.71, and the bottom 10 percent earned less than $9.56 per hour. The median wages per hour for industry technicians are: local government, $20.07; automobile dealers, $19.61; automotive repair and maintenance, $15.26; gas stations, $15.22; and automotive parts, accessories and tire stores, $14.90. The national median wages for a technician are $35,800 per year. The highest 10 percent earn $59,600, and the lowest 10 percent earn $20,200 annually.
California auto technicians earn higher wages than those in most other parts of the country. The median wage for a California auto technician is $39,200 per year or $18.83 per hour. The lowest 10 percent earn $23,800, and the highest 10 percent earn $66,300 annually. Texas auto technicians, on the other hand, earn slightly lower wages than the national average. The median wage for an auto technician in Texas is $35,300 per year or $16.95 per hour. The bottom 10 percent earn $18,800, and the top 10 percent make $59,200.
In New York, auto technicians earn a median wage of $34,800 annually or $16.75 per hour. The top 10 percent make $62,900, and the bottom 10 percent make $19,500 per year. In Florida, auto technicians make equivalent to overall wages at the national level.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2008, by the year 2018, 35,900 new auto repair technicians will have joined the workforce. It's a growth rate of 5 percent in 10 years, which is slower than the average job growth rate of all occupations. Many employers report difficulty finding workers with the right skills; those without formal automotive training are likely to face difficulties finding entry-level jobs. Certification, training and postsecondary education likely will help to find more opportunities than otherwise. Most of the new placement opportunities will be at independent repair shops and auto dealerships .