Becoming an Auto Mechanic or Automotive Technician in North Dakota

Does the mechanics of cars, trucks and other motor vehicles fascinate you? Why not make a career out of it and become an auto or diesel mechanic or an auto body repairer? Aside from being able to fix your own vehicle, you can earn a good income helping other people while doing what you love. These jobs are among the most sought-after nowadays, as new automobile makes, models, technologies and service procedures continue to emerge. From the year 2009 to 2016, North Dakota has seen an increase in the number of vehicles registered and vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in the area, according to data from the North Dakota 2018 Highway Safety Plan (ND2018HSP). It is therefore imperative for aspiring mechanics to be equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to handle the volume and complexity of work. [En Español]

Plenty of educational institutions that offer automotive technology programs can be found in the region. Go for secondary and college courses certified by the Automotive Youth Educational Systems (AYES) or the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF), respectively. Although a high school diploma is enough qualification for entry-level employment, you’ll increase your earning potential and have better job choices with more specialization. If you can, finish a post-secondary diploma, certificate or degree program, then take the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) examination and be on your way to a rewarding career in the automotive industry.

Job Outlook in North Dakota

According to the May 2017 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), North Dakota employed 2,300 automotive service technicians, 1,460 diesel mechanics and 650 auto body and related repairers at the time. Although BLS reported that more auto workers were hired than average at the time, employment in the field is expected to decline by 2.8 percent through the year 2024. So, this is a good opportunity for mechanics in the region to open their own repair shops rather than settle as employees, thus creating more jobs. The number of workers needed is still expected to be significant, especially in the northwest where the booming oil industry of North Dakota has seen an increase in VMT of 4.1 percent or 2.1 billion from 2009 to 2016, according to the ND2018HSP.

Mechanic Salaries in North Dakota

BLS also reported that mechanics in the region received annual salaries that were slightly higher than the average: diesel mechanics made an average annual salary of $51,940; automotive body and related repairers earned $51,030; and auto mechanics averaged $43,380 per year.

Entry-level automotive service technicians earned an average of $23,650 per year, but as they progressed in their careers and acquired more industry certifications, expert mechanics earned no less than $66,200 a year on average. The same goes for veteran truck mechanics and automotive body repairers, who saw a notable increase in their average annual wages at $72,590 and $77,560, respectively.

Salaries in North Dakota by Occupation

OccupationTotal EmployedAverage Hourly WageAverage Annual SalaryLowest 10%Highest 10%
Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics2,210$20.31$42,250$22,850$63,730
Automotive Body and Related Repairers590$23.91$49,720$31,400$76,590
Automotive Glass Installers and Repairers**$16.92$35,180$22,050$57,150
Bus and Truck Mechanics and Diesel Engine Specialists1,850$24.86$51,700$33,700$73,380

Auto Mechanic Salaries in North Dakota by Region

RegionTotal EmployedMean Hourly WageMean Annual Salary
Bismarck, ND420$21.11$43,920
Fargo, ND-MN610$19.20$39,930
Grand Forks, ND-MN270$18.44$38,350

Popular Automotive Programs in North Dakota

Post-Secondary Programs:

  • Bismarck State College (BSC). This institution has ASE master-certified instructors and NATEF-compliant automotive technology programs. They offer a 24-month curriculum on automotive technology and an 11-month course for automotive collision technology. Entry-level and apprenticeship positions for graduates include auto service technicians, automotive collision techs and insurance adjusters.
  • Lake Region State College (LRSC). This campus in Devil’s Lake offers automotive technology programs that have passed the NATEF standards. A student can choose to complete a certificate, diploma or degree program. The latter two can be substituted for one of the two years of hands-on work experience required to become ASE-certified. A typical school day comprises two hours of lecture in the classroom and four hours of hands-on application in state-of-the-art facilities.
  • United Tribes Technical College (UTTC). Located in Bismarck, UTTC offers a diploma and associate degree program in automotive technology. Once a student graduates, he or she can work as an entry-level auto specialist line technician, shop foreman or owner of an independent repair shop. The path toward ASE certification is just one test and at least one year of relevant work experience away.

Secondary Programs:

  • Minot Public Schools. They offer courses in auto technology and auto collision repair and painting. The former focuses on areas such as electronic/electrical systems, brakes, suspension and steering, and engine repair maintenance, then student ASE certification and eventually gainful employment. The courses in collision repair and painting prepare students for related post-secondary education and cover areas such as custom painting, estimating and body components replacement.

Aside from North Dakota, neighboring states such as South Dakota, Montana and Minnesota offer NATEF-compliant programs in their colleges and universities.

Where to Find Work in North Dakota

More than a million vehicles were registered in North Dakota in 2016, according to the ND2018HSP. The state also reported more than nine billion VMT. Therefore, plenty of work opportunities exist for auto and diesel mechanics. This is not only in the northwest region where the bulk of the oil in the state is produced but in the rural areas as well, which composes most of North Dakota. In 2016, vans, utility trucks and pickups were involved in 48.4 percent of auto accidents, meaning plenty of jobs for auto body collision repairers.

New graduates can find entry-level work at car dealerships, transmission shops, fleet services and independent businesses.

Popular Colleges

College Programs

Bismarck, ND Area

Bismarck State College

1500 Edwards Ave., Bismarck, North Dakota 58506-5587
(701) 224-5400
Automotive Technology – Associate Program

Bismarck State College’s Associate-level Automotive Technology program is taught at their campus in the city of Bismarck, North Dakota. This public college has about 4,078 students in total, with most students on 4-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission. Additionally, the college has NATEF program accreditation. Tuition fees for in-state students are in the order of $3,659 and for out-of-state students in the order of $8,528 per year. Study materials can cost in the order of $1,100, depending on the program chosen.

United Tribes Technical College

3315 University Dr, Bismarck, North Dakota 58504
(701) 255-3285 x1216
Automotive Technology – Associate Program

The Associate’s program in Automotive Technology at United Tribes Technical College is offered at their campus in Bismarck in Burleigh County, ND. This private, not-for-profit college has in the region of 391 students in total, with the majority of students on 4-year programs. The college is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission. Furthermore, the college has NATEF program accreditation. Fees for tuition are broadly about $5,757 annually, while study materials may cost around $1,400, depending on the program.

East Central North Dakota Area

Cankdeska Cikana Community College

214 1st Ave, Fort Totten, North Dakota 58335
(701) 766-4415
Automotive Technology – Associate Program, Automotive Technology – Certificate Program

Cankdeska Cikana Community College offers multiple training options, including an Associate program, a Certificate program and an Associate program. Classes are taken at their campus in Fort Totten in Benson County, ND. The college has in the region of 188 students in total, with the majority of students on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission. The cost of tuition is, as a rough guide, in the order of $3,300 annually, while books and supplies may cost around $700, although this varies from program to program.

Lake Region State College

1801 College Dr N, Devils Lake, North Dakota 58301-1598
(701) 662-1600
Automotive Technology – Certificate Program

Lake Region State College’s Certificate-level Automotive Technology program is taught at their campus in the town of Devils Lake. The college has in the order of 1,918 students in total, with most students on 2-year programs. The college is institutionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission. Furthermore, the college has NATEF program accreditation. The cost of tuition is in the order of $4,203 per year. Learning materials may cost in the order of $1,000, although this will vary with the program.

Far Eastern North Dakota nonmetropolitan area Area

North Dakota State College of Science

800 N 6th St, Wahpeton, North Dakota 58076-0002
(701) 671-2403
Automotive Technician – Certificate Program, Automotive Technology – Associate Program

North Dakota State College of Science offers multiple training options, including a Certificate program and an Associate program. Classes are taken at their campus in the town of Wahpeton, ND. This public college has in the region of 3,123 students in total, with the majority of students on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission. Furthermore, the college has NATEF program accreditation. Tuition fees for in-state students are generally in the order of $4,697 and for students from outside the state approximately $12,059 annually, while books and supplies may cost around $1,000, although this varies from program to program.

Far Western North Dakota nonmetropolitan area Area

Williston State College

1410 University Ave, Williston, North Dakota 58801
(701) 774-4200
Automotive Technology – Certificate Program

Williston State College’s Certificate-level Automotive Technology program is taught at their campus in the town of Williston, ND. Most of the school’s 1,038 students are on 2-year programs. The college is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission. The cost of tuition is likely to be in the order of $5,027 per year. Learning materials may cost in the order of $1,100, although this will vary with the program.

* Tuition fees and accredition status are correct at the time of writing, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (http://nces.ed.gov/). Confirm with college before applying.

Neighbor States

Residents of North Dakota may also wish to review their options in Montana, South Dakota and Minnesota.

NATEF Accredited Secondary School Programs

Below is a list of NATEF accredited high school programs, offering training in automotive technology, autobody and collision repair and diesel mechanic programs in the state of North Dakota. Please note that accreditation status is correct at the time of writing and may have since changed. Please check with the school and with NATEF before making any commitment.

BelcourtBismarckFargoGraftonJamestownMandanMinotOakesValley CityWahpeton

City: Belcourt

Turtle Mountain Community High School

View School’s Web Site, Belcourt, ND 58316
(701) 477-6471

Automotive Program: AYES

Contact: Ryan Keplin
Tel: (701) 477-6471
Programs: Maintenance and Light Repair

City: Bismarck

Bismarck Technical Center

1200 College Dr, Bismarck, ND 58501
(701) 224-5560

Auto Body/Collision Program

Contact: Richard Bahm
Tel: (701) 224-5560
Programs: Damage Analysis/Estimating/Customer Serv, Painting and Refinishing

City: Fargo

Fargo South High School

1840 15th Avenue South, Fargo, ND 58103
(701) 446-2153

Automotive Program: AYES

Contact: Tom Cross
Tel: (701) 446-2153
Programs: Maintenance and Light Repair

City: Grafton

North Valley Career and Technology Center

1540 School Rd., Grafton, ND 58237
(218) 201-2322

Automotive Program: AYES

Contact: Randy Kennedy
Tel: (218) 201-2322
Programs: Maintenance and Light Repair

City: Jamestown

James Valley Career & Technology

910-12th Ave., NE, Jamestown, ND 58401
(701) 952-4169

Automotive Program

Contact: Thomas Copeland
Tel: (701) 952-4169
Programs: Maintenance and Light Repair

Auto Body/Collision Program

Contact: Kevin Kubat
Tel: (701) 252-8841
Programs: Damage Analysis/Estimating/Customer Serv, Painting and Refinishing

City: Mandan

Mandan High School

905-8th Ave., NW, Mandan, ND 58554
(701) 663-3668

Automotive Program

Contact: Jeff Kostelecky
Tel: (701) 663-3668
Programs: Maintenance and Light Repair

City: Minot

Minot High School

615 E Burdick Expy, Minot, ND 58701
(701) 854-4500

Automotive Program

Contact: Jami Decent
Tel: (701) 854-4500
Programs: Maintenance and Light Repair

Auto Body/Collision Program

Contact: Dennis Ness
Tel: (701) 857-4620
Programs: Damage Analysis/Estimating/Customer Serv, Painting and Refinishing

City: Oakes

Southeast Region Career & Technology Center

924 S 7th St., Oakes, ND 58474
(701) 742-3248

Automotive Program: AYES

Contact: John Andrus
Tel: (701) 742-3248
Programs: Maintenance and Light Repair

City: Valley City

Sheyenne Valley Area Career & Technology Center

801 Valley Ave., SE, Valley City, ND 58072
(701) 845-0256

Automotive Program: AYES

Contact: James McFadgen
Tel: (701) 845-0256
Programs: General Service Technician

City: Wahpeton

Southeast Region Career & Tech. Center

2101 9th St., N., Wahpeton, ND 58075
(701) 671-2442

Automotive Program: AYES

Contact: Peter Mandt
Tel: (701) 671-2442
Programs: Maintenance and Light Repair