Damaged brakes can mean trouble for the car owner and those traveling with them along city streets and state highways. Even backing out of a driveway can turn into a harmful situation when the brakes are not in good repair. Service technicians are trained to replace brake pads and linings and adjust the brakes in addition to learning other basic auto maintenance. However, certified brake technician specialists are familiar with the actual rebuilding and overall repair of the braking system and many understand front end repairs, such as wheel alignments and suspension systems.
Enroll in an automotive service training program. Programs are offered through technical, trade and vocational schools and will include courses on brake installation and repair, as well as general auto repair. Some high schools teach auto repair courses but training at this level may not be enough to qualify you as a brake technician. Look for high school programs that are connected with the Automotive Youth Education Services. AYES connects high school auto programs with dealers, manufacturers and larger auto technician schools.
Work in a brake shop as a mechanic's assistant. Hands-on, practical work experience adds to a classroom education throughout the work life of a auto technician. Although a position as a mechanic's assistant is ideal, you can start your automotive career behind the counter by stock shelves, ordering parts or working the cash register. Entry-level jobs usually require a high school education or the equivalent.
Obtain an National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence certification. An ASE certification is becoming a standard request for all service technicians including brake specialists. The ASE “T-series” exam for medium and heavy trucks and the “A-series” exam for automobile and light trucks include testing for brake systems. Applying for the certification exam requires at least two years work experience in the area you are testing for. The ASE provides practice tests, study materials and test applications at its website.
Apply for certification through an automotive manufacturer. Training as a brake specialist for a particular manufacturer and vehicle model could result in better pay. A Manufacturer Specific Advanced Training program, known as a MSAT, is offered through automotive training schools and not directly from the manufacturer. For example, Universal Technical Institute, known as UTI, has MSAT programs for Mercedes-Benz, Toyota and BMW. However, enrolling may require the student to already be attending UTI or other trade schools offering the MSAT courses. Scholarships and financial assistance may be available for students.
Accredited automotive technician training programs can be found on the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation website. NATEF is a nonprofit standards organization that makes sure training programs match industry needs.
2016 Salary Information for Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics
Automotive service technicians and mechanics earned a median annual salary of $38,470 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, automotive service technicians and mechanics earned a 25th percentile salary of $28,140, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $52,120, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 749,900 people were employed in the U.S. as automotive service technicians and mechanics.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook, 2010-2011 Edition; Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics
- Universal Technical Institute; Manufacturers Programs
- ASE: Test Series Descriptions and Information
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics
- Career Trend: Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics