It’s no secret that automotive technicians have seen tremendous job growth over the years. As the auto industry has changed and vehicles have become more complex, it’s become essential to have trained and capable technicians to diagnose and repair them.
About the work
Automotive technicians, mechanics, and service techs work on cars (and light trucks) to ensure they’re reliable and running smoothly. The work can be physically demanding and it can get messy: auto techs are likely to stand all day and work with tools, technical manuals, diagnostic equipment, and worn parts. Service techs and mechanics identify and diagnose problems, estimate the work needed, perform care and maintenance, repair and replace parts, test parts and systems, and explain both problems and their repairs to clients.
About typical employers
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nearly a third of automotive technicians work in dealerships, with more working in mechanic and repair shops, in automotive parts and tire stores, or as self-employed techs. It’s common for auto techs to work full-time—including overtime on weekends or in the evenings, depending on their employer. Some technicians specialize in order to work on high-end or specialty vehicles or on a specific system or type of problem. Front-end technicians, brake technicians, transmission rebuilders, automotive air-conditioning technicians, and diagnostic or drivability technicians are all needed by the industry.
About the training
Most auto techs and mechanics have a postsecondary nondegree award and participate in on-the-job training in order to have successful careers in the industry. Diploma, certificate, and associate degree programs typically include both classroom and lab time to help students learn how vehicles function and to get hands-on experience to work on them. Students are also encouraged (or often required) to pursue ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) certification after completing their program.
About national averages
The BLS shows that automotive service technicians and mechanics earned median annual pay of nearly $41,000 in 2018, or an hourly rate of nearly $20. The number of jobs for this occupation is expected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations, at a rate of 6 percent between 2016 and 2026: while the total number of vehicles is expected to continue to climb in the United States, newer technologies and changes to auto industry standards may mean more reliable vehicles and a decreasing need for mechanics.
While the automotive industry helps support the economy nationwide, there are some cities that may be better than others for anyone hoping to begin a career as an automotive technician. Here are the top 20 cities with the highest levels of automotive technician employment, according to May 2018 data from the BLS.
With nearly 30,000 automotive service technicians and mechanics employed in the New York metropolitan area, New York, Newark, and Jersey City could be a great place to begin your auto tech career. New York auto techs also earn a higher mean wage than the national average, at over $48,000 per year or more than $23 per hour.
Across the country, LA employs over 20,000 auto techs and mechanics, which represents more than 3 per every 1,000 jobs in the area. The metropolitan area includes Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Anaheim, California, and also features higher-than-average wages compared to the nationwide numbers, with an annual wage over $47,000 and an hourly wage of almost $23.
Chicago employs only slightly fewer automotive service technicians than LA: with close to 20,000 employed as auto techs and mechanics, they represent 4.21 jobs per every 1,000 jobs in Chicagoland. This metropolitan area also includes Naperville and Elgin, Illinois, and, though it’s in the Midwest, has very similar mean wages as the New York area: about $48,000 annually and about $23 hourly.
While it’s not the biggest city in Texas, it is the biggest city in Texas for auto techs. With nearly 15,000 automotive service technicians and mechanics employed in Dallas, Fort Worth, and Arlington, this metropolitan area can be a great place to start your auto tech career. Mean wages for Dallas service techs are higher than the national average, at almost $43,000 annually and nearly $21 hourly.
Miami has about 12,700 automotive service technicians in the area—and that represents almost 5 jobs per every 1,000 in the metro. This area also includes Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, Florida, and it has mean wages that are higher than the national average. Auto techs earn an annual mean wage of nearly $43,000 or an hourly mean wage of almost $21 in Miami.
With one of the highest mean wages of all the cities in this list, Washington, DC, is another great option for starting your automotive service technician career. The DC, Arlington, and Alexandria metropolitan area employs about 12,500 service techs and mechanics. They earn annual mean wages of more than $53,000 and hourly mean wages of more than $25.
With over 12,000 employed as service techs or mechanics, Philadelphia could be a good choice for anyone considering an automotive service technician. The metropolitan area (which also includes Camden, New Jersey, and Wilmington, Delaware) has mean wages that are higher than the national averages, with annual mean wages of nearly $45,000 and hourly mean wages of more than $21.
The Atlanta area is another city with more than 4 jobs per every 1,000 represented by automotive service technicians. This metropolitan center also includes Sandy Springs and Roswell, Georgia, and has a total of nearly 12,000 mechanics and auto techs. Service techs in this area also earn mean wages that are above the national average: about $44,000 annually and $21 hourly.
In Boston, there are more than 11,000 employed as service techs and mechanics. These jobs represent about 4 out of every 1,000 jobs in the metropolitan area, which extends to both Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Nashua, New Hampshire. Automotive service technicians in the Boston area make an hourly mean wage of more than $22 and an annual mean wage of more than $46,000.
With well over 10,000 auto techs employed, Houston is ranked tenth in the nation for metropolitan areas with the highest employment level of automotive service technicians and mechanics. Houston auto techs, including those in The Woodlands and Sugar Land, Texas, earn an hourly mean wage of about $21 and an annual mean wage of nearly $44,000.
Auto techs account for about 9,000 jobs in the Phoenix area—including Mesa and Scottsdale, Arizona. Services technicians and mechanics earn an hourly mean wage of almost $22 and an annual mean wage of more than $45,000, making the Phoenix area a great possibility for those looking to begin their automotive service technician career in the Southwest.
In Detroit, automotive service technicians earn an annual mean wage of over $45,000—or an hourly mean wage of nearly $22. Accounting for almost 4.5 jobs per every 1,000 jobs in the area, the Detroit metropolitan area (which includes Warren and Dearborn, Michigan) employs close to 9,000 auto techs and mechanics.
Heading back out west, the area surrounding San Bernardino, Riverside, and Ontario, California, has over 8,000 service techs—and those represent more than 5.6 jobs out of every 1,000 there. Automotive service technicians in San Bernardino earn an annual mean wage of more than $47,000, or an hourly mean wage of almost $23.
The San Francisco Bay area has the highest mean wages on this list: auto techs there earn hourly mean wages of over $27 and annual mean wages of more than $56,000. This metropolitan area also extends to include Oakland and Hayward, California, and employs a total of more than 8,000 automotive service technicians.
In the Midwest, auto service techs may decide to set up shop in St. Louis. This metropolitan area, including both sides of the state line—Missouri and Illinois—employs more than 7,500 mechanics and technicians. That’s more than 5.6 of every 1,000 jobs there. They earn mean wages of more than $22 per hour or over $46,000 per year.
Mechanics and service techs in Seattle earn mean wages higher than the national averages, making close to $25 per hour or over $51,000 per year. The metro area, which extends to both Tacoma and Belleview, Washington, is home to a total of more than 7,000 automotive service technicians.
On the opposite end of the country, Floridian auto techs and mechanics can earn median wages of about $19 per hour or $40,000 per year in Tampa. This area, which also includes St. Petersburg and Clearwater, Florida, has nearly 7,000 service techs—representing more than 5 out of every 1,000 jobs there.
If you’re in North Carolina, Charlotte also offers mean wages that are higher than the national averages for automotive service technicians. Auto techs there earn mean wages of more than $21 per hour and nearly $45,000 per year. The 6,750 mechanics and service techs in Charlotte, Concord, and Gastonia, North Carolina, represent more than 5.5 of every 1,000 jobs in the area.
The Twin Cities are another great area for those hoping to begin a career as a mechanic or auto tech. Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Bloomington, Minnesota, pay their service techs mean wages of about $21.50 per hour or $44,500 per year. Minneapolis has a total of about 6,600 automotive service technicians in the metro.
Another good city to consider if you’re on the west coast is San Diego. This metro area, including Carlsbad, California, employs more than 6,000 automotive service technicians. Mechanics and service techs in the area earn mean wages of close to $23 per hour and nearly $47,500 per year.
The United States and its economy rely on cars to get around and to support commerce. There are plenty of wonderful places all across the country to consider beginning a career as an automotive service technician—we hope this list of the top 20 cities with the highest employment of auto techs and mechanics is a great place for you to start!
If you’re ready to look for a school to begin your automotive technology training, the Imagine America Foundation has a robust database of schools to help you find the right program for you. APPLY FOR AUTOMOTIVE SCHOLARSHIPS HERE!