What Is an Automotive Technician? (Skills and Requirements)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published November 24, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

When visiting a car garage, you might notice someone working as a technician. There's an increasing demand for professionals in the automotive trade because of evolving designs and technology in this industry. If you enjoy working on cars, trucks, and other vehicles, learning about this trade may motivate you to pursue a technician position. In this article, we discuss what an automotive technician is, list the skills to work effectively in the role, describe how to get a job in the field, and explore the certification requirements.

What is an automotive technician?

An automotive technician typically works in an automotive service centre to repair and perform preventative maintenance on automobiles. A typical responsibility of these technicians is diagnosing vehicle issues and providing accurate solutions regarding repair or part replacements. An auto technician can perform diagnostic tests and emission inspections on various vehicles. They may also replace a vehicle's worn components with new parts. Employers might require an auto technician to work on vehicles' brakes, engines, electrical systems, and steering.

Related: How to Become an Auto Body Technician and the Skills Needed

Automotive technician skills

The following are skills that can help you when working as an auto technician:

Customer service

Working as an auto technician involves more than discovering issues, replacing or repairing worn parts, and understanding the difference between various components. Customer service is also important. It's important for an auto technician to communicate various automotive issues effectively without using technical jargon. This skill allows customers to understand and respond appropriately. Interacting with customers and helpfully answering questions is beneficial to retaining their business. Customers invest a significant amount of money in their vehicles, and they want to work with a technician they can trust.

Related: Customer Service Skills: Definition and Examples

Attention to detail

It's important for an auto technician to be aware of details when inspecting and repairing a vehicle's systems. Identifying small causes can prevent electrical and mechanical malfunctions. Therefore, it's essential to have impeccable attention to detail. Customers may have time constraints, so finding the issue and developing an effective solution quickly is beneficial. An excellent auto technician can use diagnostic tools to determine what's wrong with a vehicle.

Work ethic

Work ethic is important when working to repair vehicles throughout the day. The role of an auto technician can be a messy one, and it's important to fully embrace your work. Customers may require emergency repairs immediately, which means you might work late. It's beneficial to prepare to work long hours to keep customers happy.

Related: Work Ethic and Success in the Workplace

Organization

Having excellent organizational skills can help you keep a business operating as an automotive technician. It's important that you manage your workspace and fellow technicians to ensure projects meet their deadlines. It's also important to keep workspaces organized and clean to maintain safety throughout the repair shop and manage vehicle components.

Problem solving

When working as an auto technician, it's important to understand how to handle challenges when working on a vehicle and within the business. In addition to quickly identifying problems, an excellent auto technician can determine the best and least expensive solutions. They can also communicate possible fixes to customers with reliable information.

Technical aptitude

Auto technicians know how to use the latest automotive technology to resolve issues. Modern vehicles can be complex, which means the technology you use to repair them is also evolving. Understanding how to use these advanced diagnostic systems and work with a vehicle's electronic system can differentiate you from other technicians. This skill also applies to administrative tasks. It can be important for an auto technician to know how to use automotive shop management systems to improve accuracy and efficiency.

Related: Technical Skills: Definitions and Examples

Becoming an auto technician

To become an auto technician, you might complete a registered apprenticeship. This typically combines classroom training with paid practical work experience. An apprenticeship can take approximately four years to complete. The process can vary between provinces and territories, but there are general steps to take. The first is to find a position with an employer who agrees to sponsor your apprenticeship. You can then register with the provincial or territorial trade certification body.

You can then enroll in a training program with a vocational or trade school. While employed and completing your training, you work a specific number of hours at your employer's repair shop and spend a designated amount of time on in-class training. After completing your training and work hours, you receive a certification or equivalent credential from your province or territory and can work as a qualified technician. You can also choose to take an interprovincial examination. This recognizes your credentials throughout the country.

Related: What Is an Apprenticeship?

Certification requirements

Each province and territory has its own set of certification requirements to work as an auto technician. In British Columbia, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Saskatchewan, and Yukon, auto technician certification is available but not a legal requirement. If you live in one of these areas, you can still go through the steps to complete an apprenticeship and certification, but it's not mandatory. Other areas may require you to learn through a trade or vocational school. The following are the training requirements for the provinces that regulate technicians:

Alberta

To work as an auto technician in Alberta, you're required to complete a four-year apprenticeship. Each year of the apprenticeship includes a minimum of 1,560 hours of on-the-job training and eight weeks of technical training in a classroom. It may be a requirement to supply your own tools. High school students can earn credits toward an apprenticeship through a registered apprenticeship program. You can also enroll in a two-year college program to earn a diploma and gain work credits toward an apprenticeship.

New Brunswick

In New Brunswick, the provincial government requires the completion of a four-year apprenticeship to work as an auto technician. The apprenticeship involves 7,200 hours of classroom and on-the-job training. After completing the apprenticeship and passing an examination, you receive a qualification certificate. In most cases, you can also receive a certification that the entire country recognizes.

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia requires candidates to complete a four-year, 7,200-hour apprenticeship. Students between the ages of 16 and 19 can register as youth apprentices and start their training before completing high school. You can also enroll in a brief automotive service course at a vocational college. After that, you can apply for an apprenticeship.

Ontario

In Ontario, candidates complete an apprenticeship comprising 720 hours of in-school technical training and 6,500 hours of practical experience. Skilled Trades Ontario is the governing body that regulates skilled trades throughout the province. Apprenticeships generally take approximately four years to complete. Community agencies and colleges offer pre-apprenticeship training to anyone who doesn't have the experience or skills to get an apprenticeship.

The training typically lasts for one year. It can include an eight-to-12-week placement, where the work hours count toward your apprenticeship. Students in grades 11 or 12 can complete a co-op placement, where they can earn credits toward an apprenticeship. The co-op diploma apprenticeship program lets students receive apprenticeship training as they're earning a diploma. During the training, they complete all in-school apprenticeship requirements and a portion of practical training. After graduating, they earn a college diploma and are on their way to completing an apprenticeship.

Prince Edward Island

The requirements to work as an auto technician in Prince Edward Island aren't as extensive as in other provinces and territories. An apprenticeship in Prince Edward Island consists of 7,200 hours of in-school and on-the-job training. The province requires you to have a qualification certificate or to register as an apprentice.

Quebec

Quebec has two methods for students to become an auto technician. The first is to complete a Diploma of Vocational Studies (DEP) in automotive mechanics, and then register with the Parity committee of the automotive industry (CPA) in your area. After this, the CPA reviews your experience and education and gives you an apprentice competency card.

Your second option is to find an employer to mentor you and start an apprenticeship. An apprenticeship comprises three parts of 2,000 hours each. The province requires students to apply for another competency card after completing each part. You receive a qualification certificate after completing the apprenticeship and passing the final examination.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions, or organizations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

Explore more articles