What Is the Salary for Entry-Level Automotive Mechanic Jobs?

Are you interested in both mechanics and technology? An automotive mechanic diagnoses and repairs various vehicles, including trucks, buses and cars. Read on to find out how your entry-level salary can depend on many factors, including the industry that you enter, the location where you work and whether you earn certification. Schools offering Automobile Repair degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Salary Overview

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), automotive service technicians and mechanics earned a mean salary of $39,060 annually as of May 2012 (www.bls.gov). The 10 percent of workers with the lowest wages made $20,810 or less, while the 10 percent of workers with the highest pay earned $60,070 or more.

The entry-level salary you might earn is difficult to predict. PayScale.com reported a salary range of $24,790-$37,426 for automotive service technicians and mechanics with less than a year of professional experience as of January 2014. However, your income can depend on the sector of work you choose, as well as your certification and education.

Salary by Industry

The industry that you enter can greatly affect your salary as an entry-level automotive mechanic. Someone working for an automotive parts store typically earns less than one working for an automobile dealership. According to May 2012 salary data from the BLS, automotive service technicians and mechanics employed by automotive parts, accessories and tire stores earned average wages of $33,830 annually, while those working at an automobile dealership averaged $43,250 a year. The automotive repair and maintenance industry employed a high number of workers in the field and paid an average wage of $35,360.

If you worked in the aerospace product and parts manufacturing industry, you would've earned the highest average wage of $69,530 in May 2012, reported the BLS. Other industries with the highest average pay were natural gas distribution ($62,970), scientific research and development services ($59,970), delivery services ($58,830) and wired telecommunications carriers ($57,630).

Salary by Location

The BLS reported in May 2012 that the highest-paying states for automotive service technicians and mechanics were Alaska and the District of Columbia, with average earnings of $51,020 and $47,900, respectively. Workers in low-paying states, such as Ohio and Louisiana, averaged $20,830-$36,110. California and Texas had the most workers by state, and average earnings were $43,710 and $37,080, respectively.

Salary by Certification

If you're an automotive mechanic looking for a more competitive salary, you might want to earn certification from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). According to the BLS, certification is usually required for work at an automotive dealership. The ASE reported that certifications were offered in a variety of fields, including brake systems, engine repair and collision repair (www.ase.com).

To earn certification, you typically must hold work experience and pass an exam, but an automotive training program allows you to substitute some of the needed work experience, reported the ASE. If you earn certifications in all of the ASE's automotive fields, you can apply for the designation of ASE Master Automobile Technician. PayScale.com reported that the median wage for automobile mechanics who were master technicians was $43,613 in January 2014.

Salary by Experience

PayScale.com reported that you could earn higher wages with more experience in this field. The website reported that the 10th-90th percentile of automotive service technicians and mechanics with 1-4 years of experience made a salary range of $16,687-$49,825. The majority of workers with 5-9 years of work experience saw a steady rise in their income and earned between $22,847 and $61,086. Earnings rose to $31,477-$79,312 with at least 20 years of experience.

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