In our last blog we discussed the overall trend of American wages and benefits. This is important in understanding what American workers are dealing with as part of the whole population of American workers. This time around we will talk specifics and compare what auto technicians make and how that compares to similar jobs in other fields.
So, first, how much do auto techs make? According to U.S. News & World Report, in 2015 the median salary was $37,850 for mechanic and automotive technicians, with the highest paid earning $63,330 and the lowest $21,020. Auto techs making the most money were those working in natural gas distribution, lumber and other construction materials, merchant wholesaling, and courier and express delivery services.
PayScale reports that the average hourly wage for auto techs in the United States is $17.42 per hour with location and experience as important determining factors. Forty percent of auto techs report that they do not receive any medical benefits through their job. An entry level tech with no experience earns an average salary of $31,000 per year, while a tech with more than 20 years of experience earns an average of $51,000 in total compensation.
According to PayScale, the best places to work in terms of pay are on the West Coast and in the Southwest, with Seattle and Dallas techs earning well above the average for this job. Techs in Orlando and Denver are on the opposite end of this scale, earning significantly less.
U.S. News & World Report ranked the job of Auto Mechanic #4 in Best Maintenance and Repair Jobs. The other jobs in this category are:
- Wind Turbine Technician
- Maintenance and Repair Worker
- Medical Equipment Repairer
- (Auto Mechanic)
- Landscaper and Groundskeeper
Still, the scorecard rank for Auto Mechanic was only a 5.5 out of 10. Compare this to the #1 job listed, Wind Turbine Technician. Wind turbine technicians perform on-site maintenance and repair. This involves “troubleshooting the turbine’s electrical, mechanical or hydraulic components and replacing or fixing those malfunctioning components.” The education needed to be a wind turbine tech is attainable through a technical program or received on the job. The median salary for this job in 2015 was $51,050, and the best pay was found in Houston, TX and Riverside, CA.
The scorecard ranking for Wind Turbine Technician was 6.3, with the job market itself scoring a 10 out of 10. Of course, this is a job that is available only in places with wind farms, and it will be done outside very high up in the air. The education required to do this job is far less than that required for an auto tech, however, especially considering the ongoing certification requirements auto techs have. Wind turbine techs will not have the same tool requirements or investment costs either.
The education required to perform the #3 job, Medical Equipment Repairer, is more comprehensive – at least an associate’s degree in biomedical technology or engineering and, for some specializations, a bachelor’s degree. Additional education is also required as medical technology changes and evolves. This is similar to what an auto tech must do. There are many opportunities for upward mobility in this field, however. The average salary is $46,340, and U.S. News & World Report ranks the job of Medical Equipment Repairer a 5.7 overall.
According to PayScale, the following related jobs have higher earnings on average than automotive technicians:
- Diesel Mechanic
- Forklift Mechanic
- Maintenance Mechanic
Ultimately, individuals must decide for themselves which job requirements are acceptable, which is why there are many ranking factors. The job stress experienced and the education required can vary widely even within the field, and some well paid jobs are only available in certain geographic areas. It is interesting to see how jobs with similar skills compare, though, and the satisfaction people report in doing those jobs.