Becoming a Mechanic or Automotive Technician in Puerto Rico
If you love to work with your hands and want a career that helps people, consider becoming an automotive service technician or truck or diesel mechanic. The work is interesting and always changing, there is good growth in the field across the U.S. of six percent, and it doesn’t take long to train and get the skills needed to do the job. As in other areas of the country, skilled mechanics are in demand in Puerto Rico.[En Español]
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the growth in the industry is six percent. There will be more jobs throughout the country going forward and a need for qualified individuals to fill them. According to the BLS May 2017 report, there were 3,140 mechanics and 1,080 bus and truck specialists working in Puerto Rico that month. The area of the island with the highest employment for mechanics is in and around San Juan, Carolina and Caguas.
According to the BLS, the average 2017 salary for auto service techs in Puerto Rico was $9.78 per hour or $20,350 annually. With more specialized skills, diesel mechanics earned an average of $12.50 per hour or $25,990 per year. The highest salaries were in San Juan, Carolina, Caguas and Mayaguez. Earnings can be higher with more years of experience and specialized skills, but it is also important to remember that the BLS numbers may not accurately reflect reality on the island. Austerity measures have lowered minimum wage in Puerto Rico to $7.25 per hour, which has lowered the salaries of many workers, including mechanics.
Auto Mechanic Salaries in Puerto Rico by Region
|Region||Total Employed||Mean Hourly Wage||Mean Annual Salary|
|San German, PR||60||$8.98||$18,670|
|San Juan-Carolina-Caguas, PR||2,390||$9.68||$20,120|
Automotive Technology Programs in Puerto Rico
To become a mechanic in Puerto Rico it is important to learn the skills necessary to do the job. This means completing a post-secondary program in automotive technology. This type of program prepares you to be placed in an entry-level position where you can continue to learn and train on the job.
- Colegio Mayor de Tecnologia, Arroyo. In Arroyo, students can choose to complete the certificate program in automotive technology to jumpstart a career as an auto tech. The program takes 72 weeks to complete and costs about $12,834 in tuition and other fees. The school reports an 87-percent success rate in placing students in jobs after graduation.
- Dewey University, Bayamon, Carolina, Fajardo and Juana Díaz. There are several locations to choose from for Dewey students. Each campus has an automotive technician certificate program to prepare students for entry-level jobs. The program usually takes less than two years to complete.
- Liceo de Arte y Tecnologia, San Juan. In the capital, students can complete the automotive technology program at Liceo. It takes 14 months to finish and includes 60 credits of coursework with both lecture-style classes and hands-on training.
- Mech-Tech College, Caguas. Students in Caguas have the option of completing the Mech-Tech certificate program in automotive technology. It takes about 15 months to complete and costs an estimated $11,430 in tuition and other fees.
There are no automotive technology programs in Puerto Rico that are specifically for high school students. However, younger students may be able to begin training as mechanics by enrolling early in one of the college programs.
Achieving ASE Certification
When you finish one of these certificate programs on your path to becoming an automotive service technician, it is just the first step. With your first job after graduation you will continue learning as you train under master mechanics. With two years of work experience, or one year of experience plus a certificate, you will become eligible to take certification exams through the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). ASE certifications are numerous and awarded by specialty area. Getting certified is a way to have more job opportunities and to earn a higher salary.
Job Opportunities for Mechanics in Puerto Rico
It may be possible to find a job without having completed a post-secondary certificate program, but most employers want to see that you have that basic education. With your certificate you should be able to find entry-level work in car dealerships, service stations, body shops, trucking companies and other settings. There are more opportunities in higher population centers, like the area around San Juan.