dcsimg

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
Click the Visit School Site buttons to go directly to a school's website and learn more about the school and programs it has to offer. School website will open in a new tab. .
Click the Request Info buttons to request more information from a representative at the school.

More California Schools

Source: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/

School Name
Campus
Highest Award
Total Enrollment
Monterey Park
Associates
34,578
Sacramento
Associates
31,858
Santa Ana
Bachelors
28,083
Pasadena
Associates
27,324
San Francisco
Associates
26,299
Long Beach
Associates
24,658
Torrance
Associates
24,349
Fullerton
Associates
24,124
San Marcos
Associates
23,848
Bakersfield
Bachelors
23,195
Fresno
Associates
22,771
Rancho Cucamonga
Associates
22,508
Riverside
Associates
20,863
Cupertino
Associates
20,674
Santa Rosa
Associates
20,671
Santa Clarita
Associates
20,008
Whittier
Bachelors
19,948
Mission Viejo
Associates
19,783
Chula Vista
Associates
18,413
Rocklin
Associates
18,221
Modesto
Bachelors
17,880
Stockton
Associates
17,849
Woodland Hills
Associates
17,655
Norwalk
Associates
17,218
Santa Barbara
Associates
16,385
San Jacinto
Associates
15,718
San Diego
Associates
15,692
Cypress
Bachelors
15,673
Oceanside
Bachelors
14,617
Lancaster
Bachelors
14,125
Sacramento
Associates
14,120
San Bernardino
Associates
13,892
Hayward
Associates
13,670
Glendora
Associates
13,263
Ventura
Associates
13,174
Los Angeles
Associates
12,984
Visalia
Associates
12,277
Salinas
Associates
12,072
Victorville
Associates
11,971
Santa Maria
Associates
11,739
Huntington Beach
Associates
11,610
Oroville
Associates
11,386
Palm Desert
Associates
11,146
Merced
Associates
10,912
San Luis Obispo
Associates
10,836
Reedley
Associates
10,562
Fairfield
Bachelors
9,625
San Jose
Associates
9,575
El Cajon
Associates
9,424
San Bruno
Bachelors
9,235
Redding
Bachelors
9,160
Pittsburg
Associates
9,048
Livermore
Associates
8,989
Imperial
Associates
8,449
Monterey
Associates
7,816
Oxnard
Associates
7,451
Compton
Associates
7,422
Oakland
Associates
6,952
San Pablo
Associates
6,727
Alameda
Associates
5,760
Kentfield
Associates
5,749
Ridgecrest
Associates
5,725
Marysville
Associates
5,529
Eureka
Associates
4,399
Blythe
Associates
4,041
La Puente
Associates
4,020
Ukiah
Associates
3,870
Barstow
Associates
3,077
Sonora
Associates
2,545
Susanville
Associates
2,484
Pasadena
Masters
2,251
Joshua Tree
Associates
1,844
Sacramento
N/A
1,310
Rancho Cucamonga
N/A
1,273
Long Beach
N/A
947
Gardena
N/A
727
Baldwin Park
N/A
400
San Jose
N/A
242
Colton
N/A
173
South Gate
N/A
51

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.

2017 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2016-26 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; O*NET® 23.1 Database, O*NET OnLine, National Center for O*NET Development, Employment & Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, onetonline.org

Metro Area
Jobs
Annual Median Salary
Bakersfield1520 $46,500
Chico350 $44,260
El Centro250 $39,820
Fresno1700 $41,030
Hanford-Corcoran180 $33,740
Sacramento--Roseville--Arden-Arcade4280 $46,140
Salinas610 $44,290
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim20390 $45,480
Madera150 $43,480
Merced330 $37,410
Modesto730 $45,720
Napa180 $49,900
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura1610 $42,250
Redding410 $48,650
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario7150 $46,520
San Diego-Carlsbad6150 $45,620
Santa Rosa970 $50,210
Stockton-Lodi880 $41,280
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward8260 $54,090
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara3350 $52,970
Vallejo-Fairfield720 $39,430
Visalia-Porterville800 $38,650
San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande630 $46,180
Yuba City260 $44,010
Santa Cruz-Watsonville390 $49,150
Santa Maria-Santa Barbara670 $37,290

Career and College Resources

Real-World Career Reports
Career References and Original Articles