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Automotive service technicians perform preventative maintenance, diagnose faulty operation 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. braking systems, suspension and steering systems). 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,
  • reassemble, adjust and test the repaired mechanism.

Automotive service technicians also may:

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

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, and there is some risk of injury involved in working with power tools and near exhaust gases. Technicians may be required to lift between 11 and 25 kilograms.

To be successful in their trade, automotive service technicians need: good hearing, eyesight and manual dexterity mechanical aptitude and interest the ability to keep up to date with changing technology. A working knowledge of electricity, electronics and computers is an asset. 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.

In Alberta, the Apprenticeship and Industry Training Act requires that anyone working in this trade must be a certified journeyman or a registered apprentice. To enter the Automotive Service Technician apprenticeship program, applicants must have at least Grade 10 with Mathematics 10 or 13 and English 10 or 13 or equivalent (or pass an entrance exam), and find an employer who is willing to hire and train an apprentice. Employers generally prefer to hire high school or post secondary program graduates and may select apprentices from among their current employees.

Automotive service technicians provide their own hand tools so apprentices should begin purchasing tools as soon as they start in the trade.

The term of apprenticeship is four years (four 12-month periods with a minimum of 1500 hours of employment each year). In addition to the on the-job training, the term also requires eight weeks of classroom training for each year. An applicant who has successfully completed related courses of study or work experience, and has the employer's recommendation, can apply for credit toward the apprenticeship.

When apprentices attend training, they are required to pay the applicable tuition fee and purchase course supplies. Human Resources Development Canada may provide income support for apprentices attending classroom training.

Apprentice automotive service technicians earn at least 55 percent of the journeyman 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. Journeyman wage rates vary, but generally range from $17 to $22 an hour plus benefits. In many shops journeyman mechanics are paid a flat rate for each job they complete, usually a percentage of the labour charge. Earnings may therefore vary considerably depending on how much work is assigned and how quickly it is completed.



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