Becoming an Automotive Technician or Mechanic in Virginia
If you enjoy working with your hands and tinkering with cars, a career as a mechanic may be for you. There are many different sectors of the automotive industry that need skilled workers, including service technicians, collision repairers, auto bodyworkers, diesel mechanics and auto glass installers and repairs. While each position has its own requirements for entry-level employees, if you have a passion for this type of work they shouldn’t be too difficult to meet.
Requirements for becoming an Automotive Service Technician in Virginia
General auto mechanics do not need to maintain a professional license in this state. However, depending on the type of work and repairs you will be doing, you may need to obtain various certifications. There are three core certifications for auto service technicians in Virginia: ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) certification, VA State Inspection license, and Emissions Repair Technician Certification.
It may be an advantage to seek higher education as employers prefer candidates with experience. Auto mechanic training programs may cover the following topics:
- Auto repair
- Electrical systems
- Computerized engine systems
- Transmission and brake repairs
- Fuel and ignition systems
- Climate control systems
- Steering and suspension repairs
- Power trains
Auto Mechanic Schools in Virginia
Virginia has numerous programs throughout the state for those who want additional certification for their auto mechanic career, including several colleges that offer certification. A few of the community colleges where you can learn more about automotive technology, include:
- Northern Virginia Community College: Students can take several courses preparing them for roles in the automotive industry, including a certificate course in automotive technology. Northern Virginia Community College also has NATEF accreditation.
- New River Community College. New River Community College offers a certification program in Automotive Analysis and Repair that is ASE accredited.
Although becoming an ASE certified mechanic is voluntary, many employers view the certification favorably when hiring mechanics. To become certified, applicants must pass tests designated by the ASE Certification Program and have at least two years of experience (or a combination of education and experience). The credential is valid for five years.
There are over 40 ASE exams to choose from. Some of the more popular tests include:
- Damage analysis and estimating certification test
- Light truck certification tests
- School bus certification tests
- Engine Machinist certification tests
- Transit bus certification tests
- Parts specialist certification tests
- Collision repair and refinish certification tests
- Auto maintenance and light repair certification test
- Alternate fuels certification test
- Truck equipment certification tests
Career Outlook and Salary Expectations
Over the next decade, Virginia is anticipating a growth in employment for auto mechanics. According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be a 2% increase in this field from 2020-2030.
According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2021 automotive service technicians in Virginia earned an average annual salary $47,120. Bus and truck mechanics and diesel engine specialists made an average $48,630 per year while auto body and related repairers averaged $47,720 per year. Auto glass installers also brought in an annual mean salary of $48,630.
Auto Mechanic Salaries in Virginia by Region
|Region||Total Employed||Mean Hourly Wage||Mean Annual Salary|
|Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC||3,820||$22,76||$47,350|
Working as an Auto Mechanic in Virginia
Working as an auto mechanic in Virginia can be a rewarding experience for those who have the necessary skills and knowledge. With the right credentials, you’ll have access to plenty of job opportunities throughout the state. Just make sure to stay up-to-date on any new certifications or industry requirements that may come along.
- Virginia Motor Vehicle Statistics, Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, https://www.dmv.virginia.gov/webdoc/pdf/tss03.pdf
- Automotive Mechanics Technology/Technician, Virginia’s Community Colleges, http://courses.vccs.edu/programs/47.0604-AutomobileAutomotiveMechanicsTechnologyTechnician
- Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2022 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/automotive-service-technicians-and-mechanics.htm
- Virginia Accredited Schools, National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation, www.natef.org/NATEF-and-You/Students-Parents/Find-Accredited-Schools.aspx?State=VA&t=1&e=1
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