Becoming an Auto Mechanic or Automotive Technician in Rhode Island
Get a head start on a rewarding career in Rhode Island by choosing to work in the automotive service industry. Some of the benefits include being able to repair one’s own car and other people’s vehicles while getting paid to do so. [En Español]
In the Ocean State, there are many schools, community colleges and universities that provide the foundational knowledge and practical experience needed to start a career in the automotive industry. Although a high school diploma can gain a person entry-level employment as an auto service technician, auto body repairer or truck mechanic, one must have post-secondary education, more experience and plenty of training to be able to take one’s career a notch higher. By pursuing an associate or bachelor’s degree and getting an Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification, one has a better chance of being hired as a manager with a higher salary rate.
To become ASE certified, one must have at least two years of experience in the field and pass a series of exams. Some of these exams include:
- Truck equipment certification tests
- Engine machinist certification tests
- Light repair certification test
- Light truck certification tests
- School bus certification tests
- Alternate fuels certification test
Becoming an auto-mechanic is for anyone who enjoys getting their hands dirty, loves to solve problems, gets excited breaking down and building up cars and wants to earn a substantial pay doing all of these.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) May 2020 data, there were a total of 2,850 automotive service technicians, 840 automotive body and related repairers, and 360 truck mechanics employed throughout the state of Rhode Island. Providence and Warwick, RI, employed more people than nearby Norwich-New London-Westenby, CT, with 2,810 and 530 persons working as auto mechanics in those areas, respectively. There is more demand for truck mechanics with 690 and 110 employed. However, all job categories in the automotive industry are expected to see an increase in demand, as BLS estimates an employment growth of 6 percent until 2030 as more vehicles hit the road and will need repair and maintenance.
In May 2021, BLS stated an average salary of $48,320 per year, or $23,23 per hour, for auto body and related repairers. Next were bus mechanics at an average annual salary of $59,770 or $28.73 per hour, followed by automotive mechanics who made an average of $47,650 annually or $22.91 hourly. Last but not least were automotive glass installers and repairers averaging $37,920 annually or $8.23 hourly.
At the entry level, auto mechanics earned an average of $29,450 per year or $14.516 per hour. Diesel mechanics and automotive body repairers made a lot more at a yearly average of $40,840 or $19.64 hourly, and $37,970 annually or $18.25 hourly, respectively. The salary more than doubled for those with further experience and training: auto mechanics at an average of $73,170 annually or $35.18 per hour, diesel mechanics at $75,940 annually or $36.51 per hour and automotive body repairers at $62,130 annually or $29.87 per hour.
Salaries in Rhode Island by Occupation
|Occupation||Total Employed||Average Hourly Wage||Average Annual Salary||Lowest 10%|
|Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics||2,850||$22.91||$47,650||$29,450|
|Automotive Glass Installers and Repairers||**||$18.23||$37,920||$28,470|
|Automotive Body and Related Repairers||840||$23.23||$48,320||$37,970|
|Bus and Truck Mechanics and Diesel Engine Specialists||360||$28.73||$59,770||$40,840|
Auto Mechanic Salaries in Rhode Island by Region
|Region||Total Employed||Mean Hourly Wage||Mean Annual Salary|
Auto Mechanic Schools in Rhode Island
Rhode Island and neighboring states have a steady list of secondary schools, community colleges and universities that prepare students for a rewarding career in the automotive field. Though the following information is current at the time of this writing, parents and students are advised to contact NATEF and their chosen school or university for any updates.
- New England Institute of Technology: Located in East Greenwich, Rhode Island, NEIT has associate degree programs in Automotive Technology, Auto Body Technology and Automotive Technology with High Performance that are Master-Certified by the National Automotive Technician’s Education Foundation (NATEF). These programs can be completed in as little as 18 months. Students will be able to participate in the Ford Maintenance and Light Repair (MLR) program and get a Ford MLR certification to train in an advanced-level program. Students will be taught solid technical knowledge and practical experience in handling industry-specific tools and equipment. They can also pursue a bachelor’s degree to gear them up for mid-level positions and management roles as well as boost their chances of getting hired.
- Lincoln Tech: LT in East Windsor, CT, has ASE-certified instructors who provide students with the necessary technical knowledge and hands-on training to become automotive service technicians, auto body repairers and diesel mechanics. LT offers diploma programs in Automotive Technology and Automotive Mechanics, designed to prepare students for entry-level positions. Their Automotive Technology with AUDI Education Partnership program will give students a chance to train on Audi’s specific technology. Scholarship programs are also available.
- Universal Technical Institute: UTI, located across the state line in Norwood, MA, partners with Ford to offer students a chance to participate in its Manufacturer-Specific Advanced Training Program. Their Master Certified Automotive Technology and Diesel Technology diploma programs by NATEF take 51 weeks and 45 weeks to complete and help graduates obtain a higher starting wage. Students will be able to tinker with local and foreign autos and have the option to work while studying. Graduates can also substitute their completed training program for one of the two-year work requirements for ASE Certification.
- Newport Area Career & Technical Center: Students of NACTC will have the chance to learn basic automotive technology through the school’s AYES-certified programs. Graduates can then start to work as entry-level auto mechanics or be ready to enroll in post-secondary, two- or four-year degree programs for a better chance of getting hired at a higher salary rate.
- William M. Davies Career & Technical High School: Students enrolled in Davies Tech in Lincoln will have a chance to acquire knowledge on engine performance, steering and suspension, painting and refinishing as well as technical skills through their AYES-certified automotive careers program. Graduates of this school will not find it hard to get entry-level employment. They can also pursue post-secondary studies at any two- or four-year college.
Where to Find Work in Rhode Island
High school students who are graduates of AYES-certified automotive technology programs can easily gain entry-level employment in Rhode Island. Automotive tech graduates could work as parts store managers, service writers or auto mechanics. Auto body technology graduates could choose to be auto insurance adjusters, auto body painters or auto body technicians. Others could also become high performance parts salespersons or performance auto tuners.
Various work opportunities can be found in automobile dealerships and repair businesses, car rental companies and fleet service and repair centers. With just 110 diesel mechanics and 530 automotive service technicians employed in Westerly, RI, and nearby Norwich and New London, CT, it would be a good place to start one’s career. The area also offers a higher average salary rate compared to Providence and Warwick, RI.