One of the most commonly asked questions an aspiring auto mechanic has is if it is feasible to live well AND support a family on an auto mechanic salary. To be direct… it sure is! Just like any career where there is room for advancement, your years of experience and knowledge will determine how much income you will be making while living out your passion fixing cars. With that being said, don’t expect to be making enough to buy a brand new car (or even a house) right off the bat.
The novice mechanic, just out of school can be guaranteed a starting pay of roughly $10-$13 an hour. Though, this starting pay is not always ideal, it allows you to earn a paycheck as you learn about the specific automobiles you’ll see everyday. This assures that newcomers can take their time learning and building their skills up. When just starting out, if your shop is open on Saturdays, be expected to work. Your willingness to work hard will help you advance quicker.
As stated above, the more you work the better you become and with that, the better your pay becomes. The median yearly auto mechanic salary is roughly $35,000 a year. Some find that number ideal, but most want to max out their earning potential. You will not be stuck making around that amount, it is just an average. That number takes into account several factors; mainly the salaries of several different experience levels. The ability for mechanics to make two or even three times that figure is not uncommon, in fact it is commonplace.
So how does one boost their salary? As mentioned above, years of experience is the biggest factor when getting a raise. It’s not so bad because normally after working for a year, you will get that pay raise. To be eligible for this first raise you must show that you have gained further knowledge of the vehicles you are working on, the majority of your first year learning will be done while working, you may receive training pamphlets and CD’s from time to time or (if you’re lucky) your boss might enroll you in training programs. This is normally done at dealerships for factory training, but some companies have started to offer dealership specific classes to specialty shops and independent repair shops. Also be expected to repair a vehicle correctly the first time in a good amount of time.
While there are many opportunities to increase your auto mechanic salary through training, both on the job and in the classroom, one route to boost an auto mechanic salary is to pass ASE certification tests. Passing these series of tests is a way to weed out sub par mechanics as well as a way for the big guy and the small guy to effectively say that it takes more than brawn to fix cars these days. Those who operate vehicle repair facilities either general or manufacturer specific have a way to highlight the talents of their staff and you as a mechanic now have a standardized way of showing off your credentials. There are eight different tests to take, each pertaining to a different automotive system. Passing a test certifies you to have the knowledge to work on that specific system. Though there are eight individual tests to take, a special advanced test is offered only after you complete all eight original tests. Pass the advanced test to receive your “L1” certification and become an “ASE Certified Master Technician.” The “L1” test is an advance engine and driveability diagnostics test. If you can pass all nine tests you will most certainly be paid more and you will most likely be expected to hold at least one or two to stay employed. The more tests you pass, the more money you can make.