An automotive mechanic is also called an automotive service technician. A person in this position repairs cars and trucks as well as performing general maintenance to vehicles. Routine maintenance can include oil changes, tire rotation and inspecting the vehicles for potential mechanical problems. A person can move into the industry by performing one specific function such as fixing brakes, changing oil or changing tires. As a person gains experience or obtains training, he can perform more technical repairs and earn more money.
The average salary for an automotive technician in 2008 was $2,970 per month according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The low-end of the salary range was $9.56 an hour or approximately $1682 per month. The high-end of the salary range was $28.71 an hour or $5053 per month.
Automotive repair has several industries that have a rather wide salary range. For example, many local governments have a mechanic dedicated to their fleet of vehicles. In 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average monthly salary for a government mechanic is $3,532 per month. An automotive repair shop pays an average of $2,686 per month. A mechanic can also work in a parts store. The average monthly salary for a person in this position is $2,622.
For many automotive mechanical jobs, the technician is paid based on the labor rate system. Under this system the mechanic receives a portion of the amount charged to the customer for labor. The customer typically has to pay for labor and parts. The shop owner takes a portion of the labor rate and the mechanic receives a portion. The exact ratio is determined by the employer and employee. The amount a mechanic makes is based on the amount of work performed. For example, if the labor rate given to the client is $100 for a task expected to take an hour, the mechanic may make $40 for his share. If the task takes two hours, the additional labor rate may not always be charged to the customer and the mechanic makes an average of $20 an hour. Often, a mechanic will be guaranteed a minimum salary or number of labor hours by his employer.
Additional Mechanic Opportunities
Some mechanics specialize in certain areas. For example, some car manufacturers train mechanics specifically for their makes. Another example of a specialized market is a diesel mechanic, although the pay differential may not be much more than a general mechanic. An average monthly salary for a diesel mechanic is $3,333 in 2008.