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Automotive Service Technician

Duties

Automotive service technicians perform preventative maintenance, diagnose faulty operations, and repair automotive vehicles and light trucks.

Automotive service technicians adjust, test and repair engines, steering systems, braking systems, drive trains, vehicle suspensions, electrical systems and air-conditioning systems, and do wheel alignments. In large shops, they sometimes specialize in repairing, rebuilding and servicing specific parts (e.g. transmissions, engines, electrical components, etc.). In smaller shops, automotive service technicians may work on a wider variety of repair jobs.

Automotive service technicians begin by reading the work order and examining the vehicle. To locate the cause of faulty operation and repair it, they:

  • use testing equipment, take the vehicle for a test drive, and/or refer to manufacturers' specifications and manuals;
  • dismantle faulty assemblies, repair or replace worn or damaged parts; and
  • reassemble, adjust and test the repaired mechanism.

Automotive service technicians also may:

  • perform scheduled maintenance services such as oil changes, lubrications and tune ups; and
  • advise customers on work performed, general vehicle conditions and future repair requirements.

For more information regarding tasks and activities, please review the Trade Regulation.

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Working Conditions

Most automotive service technicians work a 40-hour, five-day week. Some evening, weekend or holiday work may be required. The work is sometimes noisy and dirty.

There is some risk of injury involved in working with power tools and near exhaust gases.

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Skills and Abilities

The work is most rewarding for those who enjoy doing precise work that is varied and challenging. Also, they usually like on-the-job security and a feeling of independence.

To be successful in the trade, automotive service technicians need:

  • good hearing, eyesight and manual dexterity;
  • mechanical aptitude and interest;
  • the ability to use proper lifting techniques for items up to 25 kilograms;
  • the ability to keep up to date with changing technology; and
  • a working knowledge of electricity, electronics and computers.

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Employment and Advancement

Automotive service technicians are employed by automotive repair shops, specialty repair shops, service facilities, car and truck dealerships, and by large organizations that own fleets of vehicles.

Journeyperson wage rates vary, but generally range from $28 to $45 an hour plus benefits.

Experienced automotive service technicians may advance to service manager or shop foreman. Some automotive service technicians open their own repair facilities.

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Working in Alberta

To work as an automotive service technician in Alberta, a person must be a registered apprentice, an Alberta-certified journeyperson, or hold a valid recognized credential.

Individuals possessing a valid recognized credential in Alberta are eligible to receive a Blue Seal business credential after completing the necessary requirements.

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Apprenticeship Training

The term of apprenticeship for an automotive service technician is 4 years (four 12-month periods) including a minimum of 1500 hours of on-the-job training and 8 weeks of technical training each year.

  • An applicant who previously completed courses of study or work experience related to the automotive service technician trade or holds a related journeyperson certificate and has the employer's recommendation, may qualify for credit that could reduce the term of apprenticeship. Inquiries about credit for previously completed courses of study or work experience can be directed to an apprenticeship representative toll-free at 1-800-248-4823.
  • A person who has previous training or work experience in the trade and wants to determine their level of skill and knowledge for entry or advanced standing in an apprenticeship program may complete the online Prior Learning Assessment Application.  For more information, see the online Prior Learning Assessment Guide.
  • A high school student can become an apprentice and gain credits toward apprenticeship training and a high school diploma at the same time under the Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP).

To learn the skills required of a automotive service technician in Alberta and be issued an Alberta Journeyman Certificate, a person must:

  • satisfy the entrance requirements or pass the entrance exam (see Entrance Level Competencies, Exam Counselling Sheet, Entrance Exam Study Guide, and Entrance Exam Support Materials List)
  • find a suitable employer who is willing to hire and train an apprentice
    Most employers prefer to hire high school graduates and may select apprentices from among their current employees.
  • complete the online Apprenticeship Application and Contract
  • pay the non-refundable application fee as part of the application process 
  • complete the required on-the-job training
    - during on-the-job training, apprentice automotive service technicians earn at least 55 percent of the journeyperson wage rate in their place of employment in the first year, 70 percent in the second, 80 percent in the third, and 90 percent in the fourth year.
    - apprentices are required to provide their own tools
  • complete all of the program requirements as identified in the course outline
  • enroll in technical training
    - select an educational institution that offers training for automotive service technician apprentices, and a time to attend training
    - determine requirements for enrolling at the selected institution, and forward completed enrolment form to the selected institution
  • review books and materials required for training
  • successfully complete all required exams

Apprentices involved in the Career and Technology Studies (CTS) stream in high school may be eligible for credit towards their apprenticeship first period training. 

Apprentices may attempt the Interprovincial Exam in the final period of their apprenticeship training and, if successful, be granted a Red Seal.

When apprentices attend technical training, they are required to pay the applicable tuition fee and purchase course supplies.

Student loans, grants, scholarships and other financial assistance may be available. For more information see Financial Assistance, visit an Apprenticeship and Industry Training office or call toll-free to 1-800-248-4823.

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Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program

An automotive service technician who holds a valid trade certificate from Alberta or from another Canadian province or territory may apply to write the Interprovincial Exam and, if successful, be granted a Red Seal under the Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program. The Red Seal is recognized throughout most of Canada.

To prepare for the exam see the Exam Counselling Sheets and review available resource materials.

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Qualification Certificate Program

For a Qualification Certificate based on a recognized credential or work experience in order to prepare for the exam(s) please refer to the Exam Counselling Sheets and review available resource materials.

The automotive service technician Qualification Certificate Program - Based on Work Experience is participating in a pilot project that creates an alternate route for the verification of trade competencies, called the Trade Competency Verification (TCV) Pilot. See the TCV Fact Sheet for details and sample of the Automotive Service Technician TCV Book Sample.

Time spent on supervisory or foreman duties, counter work, heading the tool crib, or on training course is NOT counted as 'hands-on' work experience.

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Equivalency Program

A person who holds a valid recognized credential does not require an Alberta equivalency document to work in the trade in Alberta.

However, some employers may require Alberta documentation as proof that the holder is allowed to work in the trade or that the holder's credential is recognized.

More information regarding the Equivalency Program can be found here.

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