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www.tradesecrets.orgAutomotive Service Technician

Automotive service technicians perform preventative maintenance, diagnose faulty operations and repair automotive vehicles and light trucks.

Also Known As:Customer Service Technician, Gasoline Engine Technician, Mechanic, Motor Vehicle Trades, Service Technician, Truck Mechanic
NOC Number(s):7321.1
Minimum Education:Apprenticeship Trade
Employment Outlook:Job openings: turnover plus new jobs due to below average growth in occupation in Alberta 2013-2017
Interests:O I M

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Automotive Service Technician


Duties | Working Conditions | Personal Characteristics | Education | Employment | Salary | Other Information | Related Occupations | Related School Subjects | Related Field of Study

Duties

Automotive service technicians adjust, test and repair engines, steering systems, braking systems, drive trains, vehicle suspensions, electrical systems and air-conditioning systems, and do wheel alignments. In large shops, they sometimes specialize in repairing, rebuilding and servicing specific parts (for example, transmissions, engines, electrical components). In smaller shops, they may work on a wider variety of repair jobs.

Automotive service technicians begin by reading the work order and examining the vehicle. To locate the cause of faulty operation and repair it, they:

  • use testing equipment, take the vehicle for a test drive or refer to manufacturers' specifications and manuals
  • dismantle faulty assemblies and repair or replace worn or damaged parts
  • reassemble, adjust and test the repaired mechanism.

Automotive service technicians also may:

  • provide scheduled maintenance services such as oil changes, lubrications and tune ups
  • advise customers on work performed, general vehicle conditions and future repair requirements.

Working Conditions

Most automotive service technicians work a 40 hour, five day week. Some evening, weekend or holiday work may be required. The work is sometimes noisy and dirty. There is some risk of injury when working with power tools and from exposure to exhaust gas fumes.

Automotive service technicians may be required to lift and move items that weigh up to 25 kilograms.


Personal Characteristics

Automotive service technicians need the following characteristics:

  • good hearing, eyesight and manual dexterity
  • mechanical aptitude and interest
  • the ability to keep up to date with changing technology.

They should enjoy performing tasks that require precision and working independently.


Educational Requirements

To work in Alberta, an automotive service technician must be ONE of the following:

  • a registered apprentice
  • an Alberta-certified journeyperson
  • someone who holds a recognized related trade certificate.

To register with Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training, apprentices must:

  • have an Alberta high school transcript with at least English Language Arts 20-2, Math 20-3 and Science 10, or equivalent, or pass an entrance exam.
  • find a suitable employer who is willing to hire and train an apprentice. Most employers prefer to hire high school graduates. A working knowledge of electricity, electronics and computers is an asset.

The term of apprenticeship is four years (four 12 month periods) that include a minimum of 1,500 hours of on-the-job training and eight weeks of technical training each year. High school students can earn credits toward apprenticeship training and a high school diploma at the same time through the Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP).

Applicants who have related training or work experience may be eligible for credit or certification.

Apprentices are required to provide their own tools.

Automotive service technician apprentices may take the interprovincial exam in the final period of their apprenticeship training to earn a Red Seal (certification recognized in most parts of Canada).

Technical training is arranged by Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training and is currently offered at:

  • Grande Prairie Regional College in Fairview
  • Lakeland College in Vermilion
  • Lethbridge College
  • Medicine Hat College
  • the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) in Edmonton 
  • Red Deer College
  • the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) in Calgary.

For more information, visit the Technical Training Centre on the Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training website.

Outside the apprenticeship program, the following post-secondary institutions offer related training:

  • Lethbridge College offers a one year Automotive Systems certificate program. Entrance requirements include English Language Arts 30-1 or 30-2 and Applied or Pure Math 30, or equivalents. 
  • Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) in offers a 16 week Automotive Service Technician - Pre-Employment program in Edmonton and a 32 week General Mechanic certificate program in Fairview. Entrance requirements for the General Mechanic program include English 10 (or a Grade 11 English) and Math 10 (or a Grade 11 Math), or equivalents.
  • Red Deer College offers a one year Automotive Service certificate. Entrance requirements include English 10 or 23 and Pure Math 10 or Applied Math 20, or equivalents.
  • Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) in Calgary offers a two year Automotive Service Technology diploma program. The entrance requirement is a high school diploma with English Language Arts 30-1 or 30-2, Pure or Applied Math 20, and a Grade 11 science. Applicants are required to write a mechanical reasoning test.

Pre-employment programs for prospective apprentices and continuing education programs for journeypersons may be offered on an as needed basis by the institution(s) listed above or other schools.

For current information about programs, admission requirements and mature student admission policies, please check post-secondary calendars or websites.

To find out more information on the certification process see Automotive Service Technician Qualification Certificate Program Process on the AlbertaCanada.com website.

Section revised June 2013

Employment and Advancement

Automotive service technicians are employed by automotive repair shops, specialty repair shops, service facilities, car and truck dealerships, and large organizations that own fleets of vehicles.

Experienced automotive service technicians may advance to service manager or shop foreman positions. Some automotive service technicians open their own repair facilities. Alberta certified journeyperson automotive service technicians who have the supervisory or management skills required by industry may apply for an Achievement in Business Competencies Blue Seal by contacting Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training. 

Automotive service technicians are part of the larger National Occupational Classification 7321: Automotive Service Technicians, Truck and Bus Mechanics and Mechanical Repairers. In Alberta, 79 per cent of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Over 17,600 Albertans are employed in the Automotive Service Technicians, Truck and Bus Mechanics and Mechanical Repairers occupational group which is expected to have an annual below average growth of 1.8 per cent from 2013 to 2017 in Alberta. It is forecasted that about 317 new positions will be created each year in addition to job openings created by employment turnover. (Note: Since automotive service technicians form only a part of the larger occupational group on which this forecast is based, only a portion of the new positions created will be for automotive service technicians.)

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Section revised November 2013

Salary

Journeyperson wage rates vary but generally range from $25 to $40 an hour plus benefits (2009 estimate). Apprentice automotive service technicians earn at least 55 per cent of the journeyperson wage rate in their place of employment in the first year, 70 per cent in the second, 80 per cent in the third and 90 per cent in the fourth. 

According to the 2011 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Automotive Service Technicians occupational group earned on average from $23.76 to $36.23 an hour. The mean wage for this group was $29.99 an hour.

For more detailed information, see WAGEinfo.

Section revised February 2012

Other Sources of Information

Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training website: tradesecrets.alberta.ca

Automotive Service and Repair Association website: www.asra-alberta.ab.ca

Motor Dealers' Association of Alberta website: www.mdaofalberta.com

EDinfo website: www.alis.alberta.ca/edinfo

Post-secondary institution calendars and websites (see Educational Requirements above)


Related Occupational Profiles
Auto Body Technician
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Related High School Subjects
Science; and Trades, Manufacturing and Transportation (Mechanics)

Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
Trades, Industrial and Related Training

Produced April 2009
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For more information on career planning, occupations and educational programs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website at alis.alberta.ca, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

The information contained in this profile was current as of the dates shown. Salaries, employment outlook and educational programs may change. Please check the information before making any career decisions.


Government of Alberta, Human Services