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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.

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.

Sources

  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
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More California Schools

Source: 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

School Name
Campus
Highest Award
Enrolled
Santa Maria
Associate
13,176
Sacramento
Associate
33,821
Lancaster
Associate
13,312
Bakersfield
Associate
17,405
Barstow
Associate
2,906
Oroville
Associate
12,228
Norwalk
Associate
22,273
Ridgecrest
Associate
4,577
Hayward
Associate
13,229
Rancho Cucamonga
Associate
18,736
Glendora
Associate
11,467
San Francisco
Associate
46,411
Alameda
Associate
5,979
Kentfield
Associate
6,476
Santa Clarita
Associate
17,499
Palm Desert
Associate
8,597
Eureka
Associate
6,025
Visalia
Associate
11,697
Sonora
Associate
2,734
San Pablo
Associate
7,147
Joshua Tree
Associate
1,673
Sacramento
Associate
12,967
San Luis Obispo
Associate
10,920
El Cajon
Associate
9,358
Cypress
Associate
13,592
Cupertino
Associate
24,115
Monterey Park
Associate
28,889
Torrance
Associate
24,895
Compton
Associate
3,641
San Jose
Associate
8,707
Fresno
Associate
21,624
Fullerton
Associate
20,719
Huntington Beach
Associate
13,354
Salinas
Associate
9,890
Imperial
Associate
8,682
Livermore
Associate
8,024
Susanville
Associate
1,829
Long Beach
Associate
25,536
Woodland Hills
Associate
19,526
Los Angeles
Associate
13,194
Pittsburg
Associate
8,360
Ukiah
Associate
4,347
Merced
Associate
10,890
Oceanside
Associate
10,682
Modesto
Associate
18,546
Monterey
Associate
9,238
San Jacinto
Associate
14,197
Oxnard
Associate
6,803
Blythe
Associate
3,831
San Marcos
Associate
27,222
Pasadena
Associate
26,672
Reedley
Associate
12,158
Whittier
Associate
21,041
Riverside
Associate
30,961
Mission Viejo
Associate
18,371
San Bernardino
Associate
12,839
San Diego
Associate
10,650
Stockton
Associate
18,668
Santa Ana
Associate
33,514
Santa Barbara
Associate
21,632
Santa Rosa
Associate
25,626
Redding
Associate
9,102
Rocklin
Associate
18,859
San Bruno
Associate
8,359
Fairfield
Associate
11,163
Taft
Associate
9,328
Ventura
Associate
12,603
Victorville
Associate
10,149
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. Salary data was obtained from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Source: 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Metro Area
Jobs
Annual Median Salary
Bakersfield 1180 $43,030
Fresno 1580 $34,680
Hanford 150 $33,240
Corcoran 150 $33,240
Chico 410 $38,430
El Centro 280 $36,570
Oxnard 1480 $37,190
Thousand Oaks 1480 $37,190
Ventura 1480 $37,190
Redding 460 $41,110
Riverside 7030 $39,330
San Bernardino 7030 $39,330
Ontario 7030 $39,330
Sacramento 3970 $42,960
Roseville 3970 $42,960
Arden 3970 $42,960
Arcade 3970 $42,960
Salinas 690 $43,870
Madera 170 $45,890
Merced 340 $34,470
Modesto 570 $41,540
Napa 180 $48,370
San Diego 5530 $39,360
Carlsbad 5530 $39,360
Santa Cruz 380 $48,150
Watsonville 380 $48,150
Santa Maria 650 $38,960
Santa Barbara 650 $38,960
Santa Rosa 1100 $47,420
Stockton 800 $40,110
Lodi 800 $40,110
San Francisco 7870 $50,450
Oakland 7870 $50,450
Hayward 7870 $50,450
San Jose 3010 $51,500
Sunnyvale 3010 $51,500
Santa Clara 3010 $51,500
Vallejo 680 $38,180
Fairfield 680 $38,180
Visalia 630 $33,620
Porterville 630 $33,620
Yuba City 200 $40,140
San Luis Obispo 610 $43,080
Paso Robles 610 $43,080
Arroyo Grande 610 $43,080
Los Angeles 19870 $37,640
Long Beach 19870 $37,640
Anaheim 19870 $37,640

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