Becoming an Auto Mechanic or Automotive Technician in New Jersey
A majority of employers in New Jersey prefer that people working in the automotive field have some post-secondary training that leads to an industry specialized certification or degree. At minimum, a high school diploma, or its equivalent, is required for most entry-level positions in this field. [En Español]
For those who wish to attend an auto mechanic school, expect the following topics to be covered:
- Auto maintenance
- Oil changes
- Damage analysis
- Tire changes
- Air filter maintenance
- Brake repair
- Engine tune-ups
- Auto electrical systems
While post-secondary training isn’t a requirement to become an auto mechanic or automotive technician, it can help one be more marketable and obtain a higher salary in the automotive industry. If that is the path you decide to take, then you want to search for a program that is accredited by National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF) and will conclude with earning the Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification.
There are over 40 examinations offered by ASE and becoming certified in all of them is not a requirement, but the more areas of expertise an auto mechanic or automotive technician has, the higher their value will be to an employer. These tests include major areas of automotive repair such as:
- Truck equipment certification tests
- Light repair certification test
- Light truck certification tests
- Transit bus certification tests
- Alternate fuels certification test
New Jersey has the Heavy Duty Diesel Inspection and Maintenance (HDDVIP) program that requires all heavy-duty diesel powered motor vehicles with a gross weight rating of 18,000 pounds or more to be annually inspected by one of the 300 licensed diesel Private Inspection Facilities (PIFs) spread throughout the state. If a person would like to work at one of these locations, then an Emission Repair Technician license will be needed.
If post-secondary education isn’t for you, there are many options at the secondary level to prepare you for an automotive career upon graduation. Many high schools are a part of the Automotive Youth Educational Systems (AYES) Education Foundation, with programs that meet the accreditation criteria. So, if you enjoy getting greasy and inspecting, maintaining and repairing cars and light trucks, then pursuing an automotive career might be for you.
In May 2020, there were 16,880 people working as automotive service technicians or auto mechanics in New Jersey as detailed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Furthermore, there were approximately 4,750 people working as auto body and glass repairers, as well as an additional 7,770 working as diesel engine specialists. Employment for automotive mechanics in New Jersey is predicted to increase by 10 percent up until 2030. This is on par with the national average of 6-percent growth until 2026. New Jersey has one of the top five average salaries for auto mechanics in the United States.
In May 2021, the average salary for auto service technicians and mechanics in New Jersey was $47,940 (BLS). This is equal to an hourly wage of $23.05. Auto body repairers earned an average annual salary of $47,530, or $22.84 per hour, while bus and truck engine mechanics earned $59,770 per year, or $28.73 per hour. Automotive glass installers and repairers earned on the lower end, with an average annual salary of $37,920, which is equal to an hourly wage of $18.23. Comparing New Jersey’s pay to the rest of the country, the national average is $46,880, or $22.54 per hour.
Salaries in New Jersey by Occupation
|Average Hourly Wage
|Average Annual Salary
|Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics
|Automotive Glass Installers and Repairers
|Automotive Body and Related Repairers
|Bus and Truck Mechanics and Diesel Engine Specialists
Auto Mechanic Salaries in New Jersey by Region
|Mean Hourly Wage
|Mean Annual Salary
|Atlantic City-Hammonton, NJ
|Ocean City, NJ
Auto Mechanic Schools in New Jersey
While there are many options for automotive training programs in New Jersey, there are some that are more popular than others.
- Camden County College (CCC): CCC is located in Camden, NJ, and offers programs that lead to an Automotive General Technician certificate, an Associate of Applied Science in Automotive Technology (Apprentice) and an Associate of Applied Science in Automotive Technology (GM ASEP option). These programs take around two years to complete, and the campus is located in a large suburb.
- Sussex County Community College (SCCC): SCCC is located in Newton, NJ, and offers coursework that can lead to an Automotive Service Technology certificate or an Associate in Applied Science in Automotive Service Technology. The program takes two years to complete and is located at the edge of town. The tuition for these two programs is toward the top of the price range compared to other programs in the state.
- Mercer County Community College (MCCC): MCCC is located in West Windsor, NJ, and offers a two-year program in Applied Science in Automotive Technology that earns students an associate’s degree. Students can choose one of two paths: The Mopar Career Automotive Program (MCAP) or the Comprehensive Program. Those that choose the MCAP will take Fiat- and Chrysler-specific training that will secure them a position at a Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Rap or Fiat dealership as an apprentice technician as part of their required internships. If a student chooses the Comprehensive Program, they will learn general knowledge that can be applied to any vehicle or manufacturer.
- Ocean County Vocational Technical School (OCVTS): This program is a collection of high schools in New Jersey and is based in Toms River. OCVTS offers coursework in Automotive & Diesel Engine Technology, Collision Repair, Automotive Technology and Marine Service Technology. It is a NATEF-accredited curriculum that gives students the opportunity to earn college credit and work toward an associate’s degree through a few of their local post-secondary schools. Each program requires students to complete 900 credit hours over two years.
Where to Find Work in New Jersey
Most auto mechanics in New Jersey work in automobile dealerships and independent repair shops. Those who specialize as bus and truck engine mechanics (also known as diesel technicians) can also work on the road driving trucks, transporting goods or as inspectors at PIFs if they obtain the required licensure. Atlantic City and Camden will be the easiest areas in which to find work, but there are several other small towns that offer various opportunities.