Automotive careers

Guide to Automotive Careers

This guide to automotive careers takes a look at the different jobs you can pursue with professional training from an accredited auto mechanic school. By earning a nationally-recognized certification, you can become qualified to work in roles ranging from an automotive repair technician to a specialized diesel mechanic, motorcycle mechanic, or any number of other positions.

In the following career guide, we’ll take a look at 16 of the most-popular careers that automotive professionals choose to pursue. The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) offers certification tests for each of these career paths.

What are the Most-Popular Automotive Careers?

Most students who are interested in beginning a career in the automotive industry wish to become a traditional auto mechanic. At some point, however, many choose to specialize in a specific area of within the industry in order to increase their pay level and job satisfaction.

We’ve divided this guide into three different sections, each of which focuses on one of the major subdivisions within the automotive industry – Automobiles, Bodywork – Collision & Repair, and Trucks. Simply click on any of the tabs below to learn more about the popular careers and certifications available within each area.


careers in automobile serviceProbably the most-popular segment of the automotive industry, and certainly the one which employs the most professionals, is the automobile division.

The ASE offers certifications to mechanics wishing to specialize in the following seven disciplines which deal specifically with automobiles.

Auto Maintenance and Repair Technician

The traditional mechanic, Auto Maintenance and Repair Technicians are responsible for performing basic service jobs on automobiles. Specific areas of the automobile that the technician is responsible for servicing include:

  • Engine systems
  • Automatic transmissions and transaxles
  • Manual drive train and axles
  • Suspension and steering
  • Brakes
  • Electrical systems
  • Heating and air conditioning
Technicians who become certified in this area of expertise are required to test for recertification every five years.

Automobile Service Consultant

The first face the customer will see in most auto shops, the Automobile Service Consultant is responsible for customer service, sales, and managing shop operations. To become certified in this position, an individual is required to display strong proficiency in:

  • Written and verbal communication
  • Customer and internal (shop) relationship management
  • Vehicle systems knowledge
  • Sales skills
  • Shop operations and procedures
Automobile Service Consultants must re-certify through examination with the ASE every five years.

Alternate Fuels Technician

A specialist who is responsible for servicing automobiles that run on alternate fuel sources, the Alternate Fuels Technician is a relatively new position in the automotive industry. This individual performs many of the same functions as the traditional Maintenance and Repair Technician, but is required due to the special exceptions encountered when alternate fuel is involved with the following:

  • Equipment installation
  • Leak testing and repair
  • Emissions
  • System diagnosis
  • Cylinder safety
The technician must be retested for certification every five years.

Advanced Engine Performance Specialist

The Advanced Engine Performance Specialist is called-upon when the shop requires expert knowledge in order to service a vehicle featuring a composite power-train control system and computerized engine control technology. The areas where the specialist is often required include:

  • Power-train diagnosis
  • Computerized power-train controls
  • Ignition systems
  • Fuel and induction systems
  • Emission controls
As is the case with other ASE-certified positions, the specialist must test for recertification every five years.

Light Duty Hybrid/Electric Vehicle Specialist

Another relatively new type of career path that is becoming more and more popular across the industry, the Light Duty Hybrid/Electric Vehicle Specialist is responsible for working with hybrid and electric automobiles and SUVs. Areas of expertise for this individual are:

  • Battery system diagnosis
  • Internal combustion engine
  • Drive system
  • Power electronics
  • Hybrid supporting systems

Parts Specialist

The Parts Specialist is an expert in not only the specific parts required for different vehicle types, but also ordering and inventory management. As a professional who works the counter at auto parts shops and similar locations, this specialist needs to have many of the same skills as the Service Consultant:

  • Written and verbal communication
  • Customer and internal (shop) relationship management
  • Vehicle parts knowledge
  • Sales skills
The Parts Specialist is required to retest for certification every five years.

Undercar Specialist

The Undercar Specialist is responsible for servicing a vehicle’s brakes, suspension, and exhaust systems. The specialist is required in order to perform the following tasks:

  • Exhaust system inspection and repair
  • Fabrication
  • Installation
  • Emissions Systems diagnosis and repair
  • Exhaust system repair regulations
The specialist must be retested for certification once every five years.

Bodywork – Collision & Repair

careers in body work and refinishingAnother extremely popular segment of the automotive industry is bodywork.

Those who work in collision and repair are highly-sought after by employers, and may earn ASE certifications in the following areas.

Collision Repair Technician and Refinishers

Collision Repair Technicians and Refinishers analyze and repair damage caused by collisions, and correct damage done to the paint finish. Standard responsibilities for this professional include:

  • Painting and refinishing
  • Structural analysis and repair
  • Non-structural analysis and repair
  • Mechanical and electrical component analysis
As with other ASE-certified professions, this position must be recertified every five years.

Damage Analysis Technician and Estimators

Commonly referred to as Estimators, this technician represents the customer service arm of the collision and body repair shop. Accordingly, the specialist is required to not only have a strong knowledge of damage analysis and repair costs, but sales and customer relations skills as well. Skills required include:

  • Be able to accurately assess collision damage
  • Properly estimate repair costs
  • Be familiar with legal and environmental practices
  • Familiarity with vehicle construction and systems
  • Be able to identify parts and source
  • Customer relations and sales skills
An Estimator must be recertified by ASE every five years.


careers in truck repairThe third area of the automotive industry that is extremely popular with those seeking a career as a certified mechanic involves working on trucks.

The six certifications offered by ASE in this segment of the industry are highlighted below.

Light Truck Technicians

Able to perform a number of service tasks on light trucks up to Class 3, Light Truck Technicians are one of the most-popular types of professionals who service trucks. They are responsible for the diagnosis, service and repair of:

  • Light truck engines
  • Automatic transmissions
  • Manual drive trains and axles
  • Suspension and steering
  • Brakes
  • Electrical systems
  • Heating and air conditioning systems
  • Engine performance
  • Light vehicle diesel engines
Light Truck Technicians must recertify with the ASE every five years.

Truck Equipment Technician

Responsible for services and installing truck equipment and all types of trucks and tractors, the Truck Equipment Technician is a vital professional in any shop that services commercial trucks and heavy equipment. Typical responsibilities for the technician are:

  • Installation of equipment
  • Diagnosis of equipment
  • Servicing of equipment
  • Truck and equipment repair
Certifications last for five years and must be renewed through additional testing at the end of that period.

Transit Bus Technician

For those interested in working on public transit buses, the Transit Bus Technician is a popular career choice. This technician is required to diagnose, service and repair numerous systems on transit buses, including:

  • CNG engines
  • Diesel engines
  • Drive train
  • Brakes
  • Suspension and steering
  • Electrical systems
  • HVAC
  • Preventive Maintenance and Inspection
The ASE certification for this position meets requirements of the U.S. Department of Transportation and APTA, and must be renewed every five years.

Electronic Diesel Engine Diagnosis Technician

The specialist who is called in for especially complex problems with the diesel engines on trucks, the Electronic Diesel Engine Diagnosis Technician is a highly-specialized professional. The technician’s areas of expertise with regards to trucks include:

  • Diagnosis of diesel engines
  • Electronic diesel engine controls
  • Diesel engine induction and exhaust systems
  • Diesel fuel systems
The technician must renew his or her certification every five years.

School Bus Technician

The School Bus Technician performs the same basic functions as the aforementioned Transit Bus Technician, but specializes in school buses. The technician’s areas of knowledge and expertise include:

  • Diesel engines
  • Drive train
  • Brakes
  • Suspension and steering
  • Electrical systems
  • Air conditioning systems and controls
  • Body systems and special equipment
School Bus Technicians must renew their ASE certification every five years.

Medium and Heavy Truck Technicians

Medium and Heavy Truck Technicians specialize in servicing Class 4-8 tractors and trucks. Standard areas of responsibility for these technicians are the diagnosing, servicing and repair of:

  • Gasoline engines
  • Diesel engines
  • Drive trains
  • Brakes
  • Suspension and steering systems
  • Electrical systems
  • HVAC systems
  • Preventive maintenance inspections
As with other professions, the technicians are required to retest for certification every five years.

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