Becoming an Automotive Technician or Mechanic in California

A career in automotive mechanics may be right for you if you are looking for a job that is hands-on and involves working with automobiles and customers. A job in this field is not just limited to working as an auto mechanic. You may also find work as a diesel mechanic, body or collision repairer or glass installer.

Requirements for becoming an Automotive Service Technician in California

If you’re an individual or business in California that deals with car repairs, alterations, or diagnoses, you must register as an Automotive Repair Dealer (ARD) with the Bureau of Automotive Repair. This license costs $200 and needs to be renewed yearly.

Additionally, many employers prefer to hire candidates who have completed a formal training program or apprenticeship in the automotive field. In California, there are accredited community colleges and vocational schools that offer automotive technology programs. These courses usually include classroom instruction as well as supervised hands-on experience in the shop.

Aspiring auto techs can expect some of the following topics to be covered in various auto mechanic training programs:

  • Auto repair
  • Collision repair
  • Transmission repair
  • Automotive engine repair
  • Electrical/electronic systems
  • Tune-ups
  • Ignition system repairs
  • Brake systems
  • Safety inspections

Auto Mechanic Schools in California

If you’re looking to study auto repair in California, know that there are many options for post-secondary training. These include certificate programs, Associate degrees, and even bachelor’s degree programs. To give you an idea of what your options are, here is a list of colleges and technical institutes with relevant auto mechanic programs in California.

  • Cosumnes River College. The Automotive Mechanics Technology certificate program at Cosumnes River College offers students the choice of completing the traditional program or the Ford ASSET program. The traditional program focuses on general automotive curriculum, while the ASSET program combines classroom learning with paid work experience in a Ford dealership. Both programs can be completed in one year.
  • Los Angeles Trade Technical College. The Automotive and Related Technology programs at LATTC in Los Angeles, California require the completion of 36 credit hours for an associate degree and 18 credit hours for a certificate with a focus in tune-up or transmission repair.
  • Oxnard CollegeOxnard’s automotive programs teach students about engine repair, electrical analysis, reconstruction and trouble-shooting techniques. All instructors are ASE certified. The certificate and associate degree programs prepare students for careers in engine repair, service and parts management, diesel mechanics and repair estimation.

ASE Certification for Automotive Technicians in California

Employers may prefer to hire technicians who have completed an ASE certification program. The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) is a non-profit organization that certifies automotive professionals in the US and Canada. The ASE certification exam covers topics such as brakes, engines, electrical systems, and more.

Once you pass the test, you must renew your certification every five years by taking at least one additional ASE exam and earning continuing education credits. The ASE offers many different certifications for automotive technicians in California, including Master Technician and Advanced Level Specialist designations.

Auto Mechanic Jobs and Salary Expectations

Over the next decade, California is anticipating a growth in employment for auto mechanics. According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be a 4% increase in this field from 2020-2030.

According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2021 automotive service technicians in California earned an average annual salary $50,740. Bus and truck mechanics and diesel specialists made an average $60,550 per year while auto body and related repairers averaged $58,060 per year. Auto glass installers also brought in an annual mean salary of $37,610.

Auto Mechanic Salaries in California by Region

RegionTotal EmployedMean Hourly WageMean Annual Salary
Bakersfield, CA1,230$23,98$49,880
Chico, CA410$23,56$49,010
El Centro, CA250$24,31$50,570
Fresno, CA1,890$23,10$48,050
Hanford-Corcoran, CA170$23,32$48,510
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA17,540$25,40$52,840
Madera, CA170$23,89$49,690
Merced, CA330$22,64$47,090
Modesto, CA930$23,74$49,390
Napa, CA210$27,75$57,710
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA1,310$26,07$54,220
Redding, CA360$23,14$48,140
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA8,290$25,03$52,060
Sacramento–Roseville–Arden-Arcade, CA 4,780$25,92$53,910
Salinas, CA610$26,16$54,420
San Diego-Carlsbad, CA4,970$26,08$54,240

San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA 7,870$29,49$61,350
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA2,860$30,20$62,810
San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, CA540$25,67$53,400
Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA380$26,35$54,800
Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA560$27,71$57,630
Santa Rosa, CA1,060$27,43$57,060
Stockton-Lodi, CA1,110$24,59$51,140
Vallejo-Fairfield, CA780$26,77$55,680
Visalia-Porterville, CA550$23,63$49,150
Yuba City, CA250$25,37$52,760

Working as an Auto Mechanic in California

There are many monetary and job security benefits to being an auto mechanic in California. With the proper training and certification, one can find excellent employment opportunities at car dealerships, repair shops or even open their own business. The job provides a steady income, often with benefits such as healthcare and retirement plans. With the wide array of auto mechanic schools in California, there are plenty of options to get the training you need to become an automotive technician.


Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics, Occupational Employment and Wages, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor,

Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor,

School pages: Automotive Technician, San Bernardino Valley College,; Automotive Technology, Reedley College,; Automotive Technician Training, United Education Institute,; Automotive Mechanical Repair, Cerritos College,

Test Series, National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence,