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.

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.

Job Outlook in Rhode Island

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) May 2017 data, there were a total of 2,370 automotive service technicians, 690 automotive body and related repairers, and 550 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 4 percent until 2024 as more vehicles hit the road and will need repair and maintenance.

Mechanic Salaries in Rhode Island

In May 2017, BLS stated an average salary of $48,790 per year, or $2,346 per hour, for auto body and related repairers, the highest among all automotive job categories on the list. Next were bus mechanics at an average annual salary of $46,780 or $22.49 per hour, followed by automotive mechanics who made an average of $40,040 annually or $19.25 hourly. Last but not least were automotive glass installers and repairers averaging $34,800 annually or $16.73 hourly.

At the entry level, auto mechanics earned an average of $24,010 per year or $11.54 per hour. Diesel mechanics and automotive body repairers made a little more at a yearly average of $26,730 or $12.85 hourly, and $25,830 annually or $12.42 hourly, respectively. The salary more than doubled for those with further experience and training: auto mechanics at an average of $60,230 annually or $28.96 per hour, diesel mechanics at $63,560 annually or $30.56 per hour and automotive body repairers at $64,530 annually or $31.03 per hour.

Salaries in Rhode Island by Occupation

OccupationTotal EmployedAverage Hourly WageAverage Annual SalaryLowest 10%Highest 10%
Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics2,250$20.06$41,720$26,270$60,340
Automotive Body and Related Repairers680$22.25$46,280$25,660$63,090
Bus and Truck Mechanics and Diesel Engine Specialists530$22.05$45,870$26,720$61,650

Auto Mechanic Salaries in Rhode Island by Region

RegionTotal EmployedMean Hourly WageMean Annual Salary
Region630$20.10$41,820
Providence-Warwick, RI-MA2,650$20.18$41,980

Popular Programs 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.

Post-Secondary Programs

  • 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.
  • Secondary Programs

  • 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.

    Popular Colleges

    College Programs

    Providence-Fall River-Warwick, RI-MA Area

    New England Institute of Technology

    One New England Tech Boulevard, East Greenwich, Rhode Island 02818-1205
    (401) 739-5000
    Automotive Technology – Associate Program

    The Associate’s program in Automotive Technology at New England Institute of Technology is offered at their campus in East Greenwich in Kent County. Of the 2,919 students, about 4% are postgraduates. The college is institutionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education. Furthermore, the college has NATEF program accreditation. Fees for tuition are usually about $26,151 for each academic year. Study materials can cost roughly $1,521, depending on the program chosen.

    * 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 Rhode Island may also wish to review their options in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey.

    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 Rhode Island. 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.

    CoventryEast ProvidenceLincolnNewportProvidenceWarwickWoonsocket

    City: Coventry

    Regional Career & Technical Center @ Coventry High School

    40 Reservoir Rd., Coventry, RI 2816
    (401) 822-9499

    Automotive Program

    Contact: Lori Ferguson
    Tel: (401) 822-9499
    Programs: Maintenance and Light Repair

    City: East Providence

    East Providence Area Career & Technical Center

    1998 Pawtucket Ave., East Providence, RI 2914
    (401) 437-7815

    Automotive Program: AYES

    Contact: Joseph Barroso
    Tel: (401) 437-7815
    Programs: Maintenance and Light Repair

    City: Lincoln

    William M. Davies Career & Technical High School

    50 Jenckes Hill Rd., Lincoln, RI 2865
    (401) 725-1500

    Automotive Program: AYES

    Contact: Michael Strojny
    Tel: (401) 725-1500
    Programs: Maintenance and Light Repair

    Auto Body/Collision Program

    Contact: Michael Strojny
    Tel: (401) 725-1500
    Programs: Non-Structural Analysis/Damage Repair, Painting and Refinishing

    City: Newport

    Newport Area Career & Technical Center

    15 Wickham Rd., Newport, RI 2840
    (401) 849-3608

    Automotive Program: AYES

    Contact: Daniel Pontes
    Tel: (401) 849-3608
    Programs: Brakes, Electrical/Electronic Systems, Engine Performance, Heating and Air Conditioning, Suspension & Steering

    City: Providence

    Providence Career & Technical Academy

    41 Fricker St., Providence, RI 2903
    (401) 456-9136

    Automotive Program

    Contact: Ramon Torres
    Tel: (401) 456-9136
    Programs: Maintenance and Light Repair

    City: Warwick

    Warwick Area Career & Technical Center

    575 Centerville Rd., Warwick, RI 2886
    (401) 734-3164

    Automotive Program: AYES

    Contact: David Tibbetts
    Tel: (401) 734-3164
    Programs: Master Automobile Service Technology

    City: Woonsocket

    Woonsocket Area Career & Technical Ctr.

    400 Aylsworth Ave., Woonsocket, RI 2895
    (401) 767-4673

    Automotive Program: AYES

    Contact: Philippe Jacques
    Tel: (401) 767-4673
    Programs: Maintenance and Light Repair