California Auto Mechanic Schools and Career Training Information

Career Information for Automotive Mechanics in California

Automotive service technicians and mechanics inspect, repair and maintain vehicles. Here are just some of their responsibilities:

  • Use computerized diagnostic tools to find problems
  • Use manuals, resources and experience to fix problems
  • Perform basic car maintenance, including changing oil, checking and filling fluids, replacing parts, repair broken mechanical items and repairing flat tires
  • Explain auto problems to vehicle owners

Auto mechanics usually complete a formal training program at a postsecondary school in programs lasting from 6 months to a year. Once employed, most technicians also get industry certification. Many mechanics work full time in a car repair shop while working on an Associate's degree at an independent school or through a degree program sponsored by a manufacturer or auto dealership. States don't license auto mechanics, but certification from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence is required by many employers. This takes at least two years of school or one year of on-the-job training and one year of school. Students must pass an exam to get certified. The U.S. EPA requires that mechanics working with refrigerants earn certification in proper handling techniques.

Fast Facts for Auto Mechanics in California

There are 60,440 auto mechanics in California, and they earn an average annual salary of $44,230. That translates into about $21.26 per hour. There are nearly 4 auto mechanics jobs out of every 1,000 jobs in the state.

The highest concentration of auto mechanics in California is in Redding, California, where there are more than 8 mechanics for every 1,000 workers. Yuba City has the next highest concentration with 6.85 mechanics per 1,000 workers.

Among the largest metropolitan areas of California, the highest concentration of auto mechanics is in the Riverside-San Bernadino area, where there are nearly 6 auto mechanics for every 1,000 workers. The highest average annual salary is found in the San Francisco-San Mateo area.

One in four auto mechanics in California works in the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale area of Southern California while 33 percent of the state's total works in the Long Beach-Santa Ana region of Los Angeles. Combined, Los Angeles auto mechanics make up 58 percent of the state's total auto mechanic workforce.

Auto Mechanic Salaries in California

Auto mechanics in California make about 20 percent more than the national average for all auto mechanics. In the San Francisco Bay Area auto mechanic salaries are a whopping 46 percent higher than the national average and 23 percent higher than the state average. There are a few places in California where auto mechanics make less than the national average, but they tend to be smaller rural towns, like Hanford, Visalia and Yuba City. Fresno is the only large city in California where annual salaries for auto mechanics are on par with the national average.

Nationally, the highest salaries for auto mechanics go to those who work for auto dealers, where the average annual salary of $41,980 is about 13 percent higher than the national average salary. The lowest salaries are paid at auto parts and tire stores, where the average annual salary of $31,550 is about 15 percent below the national average.

Metro Areas Rated for Salary and Popularity

Here's a breakdown on the number of auto mechanics in California metropolitan areas, based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data from May 2014. The chart lists the total number of auto mechanics in that area, the number of auto mechanics per 1,000 jobs and the average annual salary for auto mechanics in that area.

Bakersfield-Delano, CA




Chico, CA




El Centro, CA




Fresno, CA




Hanford-Corcoran, CA




Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA Metropolitan Division




Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA




Madera-Chowchilla, CA




Merced, CA




Modesto, CA




Napa, CA




Oakland-Fremont-Hayward, CA Metropolitan Division




Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA




Redding, CA




Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA




Sacramento -- Arden-Arcade -- Roseville, CA




Salinas, CA




San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA




San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA




San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, CA Metropolitan Division




San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA




San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, CA




Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, CA Metropolitan Division




Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Goleta, CA




Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA




Santa Rosa-Petaluma, CA




Stockton, CA




Vallejo-Fairfield, CA




Visalia-Porterville, CA




Yuba City, CA




Expert Q&A

To learn more about what it takes to become an auto mechanic in California, we sat down with Gloria Peterson of the Automotive Service Councils of California, and asked her advice on the trade.

What are the advantages of studying to become auto mechanic?

There is a high demand for auto mechanics and pay is very good. Becoming an auto mechanic also opens up a variety of career choices for people -- you could own your own business, for instance.

If you're still in high school, what's the best way to prepare for college courses in an auto mechanics program?

It depends on whether you have available to you some type of auto mechanic courses. That's the ideal route to go. You can get hands-on experience working with vehicles, but you also get exposure to the career and this could help you decide if this is a career you want to pursue. You may have to travel to another campus to gain access to an auto mechanics course, but if you're interested in that as a career, that's the best avenue.

What is the career outlook for auto mechanics?

The career outlook is very positive. There are a lot of career opportunities. The way the industry has developed, the technology used in vehicles is constantly changing, such as with hybrid and diesel vehicles, and this makes the job more interesting because you have to stay up on all these changes. It's also becoming more difficult for consumers to "do it yourself," so that means more job security for people in the auto technician field.


  1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, California, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ca.htm
  2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/automotive-service-technicians-and-mechanics.htm
  3. Interview with Gloria Peterson, Automotive Service Councils of California

Schools for Automotive Mechanics in California are listed below.

Selected Schools in California

quickinfoThese schools offer particularly quick info upon request, and we have written detailed profiles for each (click school names to see the profiles).

Request info from multiple schools, by clicking the Request Info links.

This list also contains online schools that accept students from California.

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Universal Technical Institute
Long Beach, Rancho Cucamonga, Sacramento

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More California Schools

School Name Campus Highest Award Enrolled
Allan Hancock College Santa Maria Associate 13,176
American River College Sacramento Associate 33,821
Antelope Valley College Lancaster Associate 13,312
Bakersfield College Bakersfield Associate 17,405
Barstow Community College Barstow Associate 2,906
Butte College Oroville Associate 12,228
Cerritos College Norwalk Associate 22,273
Cerro Coso Community College Ridgecrest Associate 4,577
Chabot College Hayward Associate 13,229
Chaffey College Rancho Cucamonga Associate 18,736
Citrus College Glendora Associate 11,467
City College of San Francisco San Francisco Associate 46,411
College of Alameda Alameda Associate 5,979
College of Marin Kentfield Associate 6,476
College of the Canyons Santa Clarita Associate 17,499
College of the Desert Palm Desert Associate 8,597
College of the Redwoods Eureka Associate 6,025
College of the Sequoias Visalia Associate 11,697
Columbia College Sonora Sonora Associate 2,734
Contra Costa College San Pablo Associate 7,147
Copper Mountain Community College Joshua Tree Associate 1,673
Cosumnes River College Sacramento Associate 12,967
Cuesta College San Luis Obispo Associate 10,920
Cuyamaca College El Cajon Associate 9,358
Cypress College Cypress Associate 13,592
De Anza College Cupertino Associate 24,115
East Los Angeles College Monterey Park Associate 28,889
El Camino College Torrance Associate 24,895
El Camino College-Compton Center Compton Associate 3,641
Evergreen Valley College San Jose Associate 8,707
Fresno City College Fresno Associate 21,624
Fullerton College Fullerton Associate 20,719
Golden West College Huntington Beach Associate 13,354
Hartnell College Salinas Associate 9,890
Imperial Valley College Imperial Associate 8,682
Las Positas College Livermore Associate 8,024
Lassen Community College Susanville Associate 1,829
Long Beach City College Long Beach Associate 25,536
Los Angeles Pierce College Woodland Hills Associate 19,526
Los Angeles Trade Technical College Los Angeles Associate 13,194
Los Medanos College Pittsburg Associate 8,360
Mendocino College Ukiah Associate 4,347
Merced College Merced Associate 10,890
MiraCosta College Oceanside Associate 10,682
Modesto Junior College Modesto Associate 18,546
Monterey Peninsula College Monterey Associate 9,238
Mount Jacinto College San Jacinto Associate 14,197
Oxnard College Oxnard Associate 6,803
Palo Verde College Blythe Associate 3,831
Palomar College San Marcos Associate 27,222
Pasadena City College Pasadena Associate 26,672
Reedley College Reedley Associate 12,158
Rio Hondo College Whittier Associate 21,041
Riverside Community College Riverside Associate 30,961
Saddleback College Mission Viejo Associate 18,371
San Bernardino Valley College San Bernardino Associate 12,839
San Diego Miramar College San Diego Associate 10,650
San Joaquin Delta College Stockton Associate 18,668
Santa Ana College Santa Ana Associate 33,514
Santa Barbara City College Santa Barbara Associate 21,632
Santa Rosa Junior College Santa Rosa Associate 25,626
Shasta College Redding Associate 9,102
Sierra College Rocklin Associate 18,859
Skyline College San Bruno Associate 8,359
Solano Community College Fairfield Associate 11,163
Taft College Taft Associate 9,328
Ventura College Ventura Associate 12,603
Victor Valley College Victorville Associate 10,149
Yuba College Marysville Associate 9,904

Job Popularity in Metro Areas for Automotive Mechanics

The map below shows job statistics for the career type by metro area, for California. A table below the map shows job popularity and salaries across the state.

Metro Areas Rated for Popularity for:
Automotive Mechanics

Listed below are metro areas ranked by the popularity of jobs for Automotive Mechanics relative to the population of the city, as of 2008. Salary data was obtained from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A Relative Popularity of 1.0 means that the city has an average number of the particular job, for its population, compared to the rest of the US. Higher numbers mean proportionally more jobs of that type.

Metro Area Jobs Salary


Bakersfield 1180 $43030 0.86
Fresno 1580 $34680 1
Hanford 150 $33240 0.81
Corcoran 150 $33240 0.81
Chico 410 $38430 1.24
El Centro 280 $36570 1.11
Oxnard 1480 $37190 1.08
Thousand Oaks 1480 $37190 1.08
Ventura 1480 $37190 1.08
Redding 460 $41110 1.69
Riverside 7030 $39330 1.16
San Bernardino 7030 $39330 1.16
Ontario 7030 $39330 1.16
Sacramento 3970 $42960 0.98
Roseville 3970 $42960 0.98
Arden 3970 $42960 0.98
Arcade 3970 $42960 0.98
Salinas 690 $43870 0.92
Los Angeles 19870 $37640 0.76
Long Beach 19870 $37640 0.76
Anaheim 19870 $37640 0.76
Madera 170 $45890 0.95
Merced 340 $34470 1.13
Modesto 570 $41540 0.73
Napa 180 $48370 0.55
San Diego 5530 $39360 0.88
Carlsbad 5530 $39360 0.88
Santa Cruz 380 $48150 0.9
Watsonville 380 $48150 0.9
Santa Maria 650 $38960 0.78
Santa Barbara 650 $38960 0.78
Santa Rosa 1100 $47420 1.26
Stockton 800 $40110 0.79
Lodi 800 $40110 0.79
San Francisco 7870 $50450 0.78
Oakland 7870 $50450 0.78
Hayward 7870 $50450 0.78
San Jose 3010 $51500 0.64
Sunnyvale 3010 $51500 0.64
Santa Clara 3010 $51500 0.64
Vallejo 680 $38180 1.18
Fairfield 680 $38180 1.18
Visalia 630 $33620 0.96
Porterville 630 $33620 0.96
Yuba City 200 $40140 1.1
San Luis Obispo 610 $43080 1.2
Paso Robles 610 $43080 1.2
Arroyo Grande 610 $43080 1.2
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