Becoming an Auto Mechanic or Automotive Technician in Oklahoma
Auto mechanics that have up-to-date skills are in demand today more than ever before, as automobile manufacturers continue to release new models that use the latest technologies. High school students can already start building a career in the automotive service industry by choosing a school that offers a program certified by Automotive Youth Educational Systems (AYES) – that will help prepare them for entry-level employment right after graduation.
However, the chances of getting hired immediately and with a higher salary will depend on whether they finish a certificate or a two- or four-year degree program that is certified by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF). After earning a certificate or degree, post-secondary graduates should aim to get Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification, as this will greatly increase their chances of landing their dream job. [En Español]
In order to obtain ASE certification, auto mechanics must first pass one or more ASE exams, some of which include:
- Truck equipment certification tests
- Engine machinist certification tests
- Alternate fuels certification test
- School bus certification tests
- Transit bus certification tests
- Parts specialist certification tests
There are ASE exams for different skill levels, so mechanics can start by taking the entry-level exam and then move on to more advanced exams as their career progresses.
Some employers may require their employees to have a certain level of ASE certification, so it is important to check with potential employers before beginning the certification process. Once a mechanic has ASE certification, they should keep their skills up-to-date by taking additional ASE exams as new technologies are developed and new models of vehicles are released.
Various schools, community colleges and universities in Oklahoma provide quality education programs that give students a head start to a bright future as an auto service technician, auto body repairer or truck mechanic.
According to the May 2017 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a total of 7,340 auto mechanics, 3,070 diesel mechanics, 1,750 auto body and related repairers, and 160 automotive glass installers and repairers were employed in Oklahoma at the time. The greatest concentration of auto mechanics were found in Oklahoma City and Tulsa at 2,820 and 1,980, respectively. Meanwhile, Lawton could hire more automotive body repairers and bus mechanics, as the area employed just 30 and 50 workers in each specialty according to the BLS. Overall, automotive service job vacancies in the Oklahoma are expected to rise of 6.6 percent up to the year 2024, greater than the nationwide prediction of 5.3 percent.
In Oklahoma, people who worked on trucks, buses and tractor trailers received the highest average annual salary at $47,120, or $22.66 per hour, according to BLS. Meanwhile, those who maintained and repaired automobiles received similar average annual wages at $46,180 for auto mechanics, $46,580 for automotive body repairers and $25,100 for automotive glass installers and repairers.
A newly employed worker received an average of $13.85 per hour as an automotive service technician. But those who earned ASE certification and had been working for many years as an auto mechanic received an average of $74,790 per year, or $35.96 per hour.
Salaries in Oklahoma by Occupation
|Occupation||Total Employed||Average Hourly Wage||Average Annual Salary||Lowest 10%|
|Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics||8,400||$22.20||$46,180||$28,810|
|Automotive Glass Installers and Repairers||110||$12.07||$25,100||$23,240|
|Automotive Body and Related Repairers||2,050||$22.39||$46,580||$29,360|
|Bus and Truck Mechanics and Diesel Engine Specialists||3,690||$22.66||$47,120||$29,860|
Auto Mechanic Salaries in Oklahoma by Region
|Region||Total Employed||Mean Hourly Wage||Mean Annual Salary|
|Oklahoma City, OK||3,070||$22,67||$47,150|
Auto Mechanic Schools in Oklahoma
Community colleges and universities from nearby states such as Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas and Missouri have automotive technology programs that are also available for Oklahoma residents.
- Lincoln Tech – This campus in Grand Prairie, TX, specializes in building students’ skills needed to succeed in automotive technology. In partnership with BMW, Lincoln Tech (LT) offers an optional four-month, free training called MINI Service Technician Education Program (MINI STEP). After graduation, students can qualify as Level 1 MINI automotive technicians and apply in MINI dealerships. LT also offers NATEF-compliant automotive technology and collision repair and refinishing technology diplomas, an automotive mechanics certificate and an associate of applied science degree in automotive service management, with programs handled by ASE-certified instructors. An online learning program combined with hands-on application is also available.
- Oklahoma City Community College – OCCC partners with two automobile manufacturers: Honda, through the Honda Professional Automotive Career Training (PACT), and General Motors, through its GM Automotive Service Educational Program (ASEP, both of which give students a chance to work in their dealerships after graduation. OCCC also offers an associate degree in automotive technology and a certificate of mastery in automotive maintenance and light vehicle repair. The latter requires 18 credit hours and a minimum of 384 clock hours of work experience. Lastly, their associate degree in applied science in vehicle service management is suited for anyone who wants to get into a management position while still being skilled in the actual application of auto mechanics.
- Oklahoma Technical College – OTC has automotive and diesel technology programs that will prepare students for careers as auto service technicians and diesel mechanics in as little as eight months. They also gear up students to pass the ASE certification in nine areas: engine repair, maintenance and light repair, automatic transmission, manual drive transmission, brake system, suspension and steering, heating and air conditioning, electrical systems and engine performance.
- Tulsa Technology Center – Tulsa Tech in Broken Arrow offers full-time program areas in automotive maintenance and light repair, automotive service, collision refinishing, collision repair, and medium or heavy diesel service. Their programs are accredited by NATEF and will help prepare students for entry-level positions as auto and diesel mechanics and auto body repairers.
Where to Find Work in Oklahoma
Auto dealerships, repair shops, fleet service departments and independent businesses will be in need of automotive and bus mechanics across Oklahoma as we see a steady rise in passenger vehicles, medium- and heavy-duty trucks, and tractors in need of diagnosis, repair and maintenance services. Automotive and diesel technology program graduates can also work as brake technicians, mechanic’s helpers, HVAC technicians, retail parts sales reps, fleet superintendents, service advisers and service station operators.