Becoming a Mechanic or Automotive Technician in Washington
Working as an auto or truck mechanic is a great career choice if you enjoy hands-on work, having a lot of career opportunities and working with people. If you are choosing your career in Washington State, consider going to school or completing an apprenticeship in order to get the training needed to become an automotive technician or mechanic. [En Español]
The May 2020 report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that there were 14,280 automotive service technicians and mechanics and 7,940 bus and truck mechanics and diesel specialists working in Washington at the time. The overall growth in this field for the country is twelve percent. There are many positions right now and more expected in the future for those individuals who have the right training. The areas in the state with the most opportunities are around Seattle, Tacoma, Bellevue and Vancouver.
In addition to opportunities to be hired in Washington, mechanics in the state earn great salaries for this skilled trade. In 2021, according to the BLS, the average salary for an auto service technician was $48,370 per year, and the top earners made $76,750. Diesel and truck mechanics earned an annual average of $60,780, while top earners made $96,290. You can expect to find the highest salaries in and around Vancouver, Bellingham, Seattle, Tacoma and Bremerton.
Salaries in Washington by Occupation
|Occupation||Total Employed||Average Hourly Wage||Average Annual Salary||Lowest 10%|
|Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics||14,280||$23.26||$48,370||$35,940|
|Automotive Glass Installers and Repairers||750||$22.04||$45,850||$34,040|
|Automotive Body and Related Repairers||2,670||$22.91||$47,640||$37,000|
|Bus and Truck Mechanics and Diesel Engine Specialists||7,940||$29.22||$60,780||$44,190|
Auto Mechanic Salaries in Washington by Region
|Region||Total Employed||Mean Hourly Wage||Mean Annual Salary|
|Mount Vernon-Anacortes, WA||250||$24,99||$51,970|
|Walla Walla, WA||40||$22,84||$47,500|
Auto Mechanic Schools in Washington
Programs that train people to become mechanics should be accredited by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF) or Automotive Youth Educational Systems (AYES). There are programs at community and technical colleges for adult students and also high school programs that prepare young students for entry-level jobs right after graduation.
- Renton Technical College. Located in Renton, this technical school offers a few options for students interested in becoming a mechanic. There is a two-year associate degree program in automotive technology, as well as a shorter certificate option. The auto body repair and refinishing program prepares students to work in collision shops. Renton also has the Ford ASSET program, a two-year degree that trains students to become certified Ford technicians.
- Shoreline Community College. In Shoreline, students can choose between several manufacturer-specific training programs, including Honda PACT, Mopar CAP, Toyota T-TEN and GM ASEP. Students in these programs alternate classroom learning with hands-on, paid work experience at dealerships. There is also a general service technician program at Shoreline.
- Spokane Community College. Spokane students can choose from several certificate and degree programs. These include associate degrees in automotive collision and refinishing or automotive technology, and certificates in specialty areas like brakes, collision, electrical systems, engine, repair, heating and air conditioning and more. Spokane also offers students the Toyota T-TEN program.
- Clark College. Clark College, in Vancouver, offers students an automotive technology associate degree program as well as the Toyota T-TEN program. It also has two special programs for either a certificate or associate degree. The program is called HiTECC, or the Dick Hannah Initiative for Technician Education with Clark College. It is an exclusive program for just 20 students at a time, who learn in the classroom and at local dealerships with placement at those dealerships after graduation.
For high school students in Washington, there are auto mechanic programs at several locations. A few examples include South Puget Sound Community College in Olympia, Newtech Skills Center in Spokane, Bates Technical College in Tacoma, Cascade High School in Everett, and Cascadia Technical Academy Skills Center in Vancouver.
Achieving ASE Certification
Completion of an educational program in automotive technology or diesel mechanics prepares students to accept an entry-level job. Training often continues on the job at that point, and new workers can gain enough experience to become certified through The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). ASE certifies mechanics in a range of specialties. To qualify to take a certification test a mechanic must have completed an educational program and one year of work experience or have two years of work experience with no degree or certificate.
Job Opportunities for Mechanics in Washington
With the right training and education you will have your choice of types of job in Washington. Most employers in the state prefer to hire graduates of automotive technology programs. Employers include dealerships, service stations and gas stations, body and paint shops, and oil change shops. If you successfully complete a certificate or degree program, you should be able to find an entry-level job in any of these types of facilities.