Whether you’re just trying to figure out how much you can make if you become a mechanic or just want a rough estimate of a mechanics’ salary at your local repair shop, we’ll break it all down for you.
Not only will we answer the question of how much mechanics make, but we’ll also explain other expenses that go into becoming a mechanic, how you can find your way into the business, and we’ll highlight some of the most profitable automotive niches in this guide
How Much Do Auto Mechanics Make?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average automotive mechanic makes $46,880 a year, or $22.54 per hour. Of course, there are a lot of different things that can go into answering the question of how much mechanics make.
For instance, if you live in the District of Columbia the average automotive mechanic makes far more than $46,000 per year, with the median income settling in at $65,420 per year.
And if you go to West Virginia the average mechanics bring in $32,250 per year. Other factors include whether you run your own automotive shop, or whether you work at a dealership or at a private repair shop.
A final factor you’ll want to consider when you’re trying to determine the average auto mechanic’s salary is whether or not the mechanic has ASE certifications.
Many dealerships and repair shops will offer a bonus to a mechanics hourly rate for the number of certifications they have.
How Much Do Diesel Mechanics Make?
While typical automotive mechanics make just under $47,000 a year and about $22.50 an hour, if you’re a diesel technician you can expect to bring in a little bit more.
That’s because the Bureau of Labor Statistics puts the average pay for a diesel mechanic at $48,690 per year, which translates to about $23.41 per hour.
But just like with the average pay of a gasoline automotive mechanic there are tons of factors that go into how much a diesel mechanic makes.
The highest paying state for diesel mechanics is Alaska where they bring in a little over $62,000 a year. Meanwhile, in the lowest-paying state, West Virginia, diesel mechanics bring in just over $39,000 per year.
Once again, it also depends on what type of shop you work in since dealerships and private repair shops will pay different rates while providing different benefits.
How Do Mechanics Make Money?
While we’ve highlighted the average pay rates above, it’s crucial to note that mechanics typically get paid on a “flat-rate” system.
That means you don’t just get money for showing up, instead you get paid for the work you complete.
There’s an expected amount of time to complete a job, and if a mechanic completes the job faster, they still get paid for the expected amount of time.
However, if it takes the mechanic longer than that for them to complete the job then they still only get paid for the expected amount of time to complete the job.
Furthermore, if there’s no work to complete at the shop, then the mechanic doesn’t get paid at all.
In short, the “flat-rate” system pays the mechanic only for the actual work they complete and the amount of time it should take them to complete that work.
It’s a great pay system for highly proficient mechanics that can quickly complete work. But as new mechanics learn and try to figure things out, it doesn’t always lead to the highest paychecks.
Is Automotive Repair a Good Career?
If you’re looking for a career field that’s going to get you rich, becoming an automotive mechanic isn’t it.
But just because you aren’t going to bring in gobs of money doesn’t make it a bad career choice.
It’s an excellent choice for those that want to work with their hands to earn their paycheck. It’s rewarding but also physically demanding.
Spending large portions of your day busting knuckles and bending over engine bays can be physically demanding work, so just know what you’re getting yourself into.
Highest Paying Automotive Repair Niches
When you’re trying to figure out how much car mechanics make, one of the most important questions you need to ask yourself is what automotive niche are you looking at?
The numbers we’ve highlighted above are for general-purpose mechanics, meaning they fix just about anything that comes into the shop.
However, if you get extremely proficient at a particular task you can specialize, and often those mechanics will make far more.
Some of the highest paying niches in the automotive career field include electrical, performance tuning, and customizations.
While you typically need a higher skill set to perform in these areas, if you can master them you can pick up work at a higher rate, and you should be able to complete the work ahead of schedule.
Since you’re still on a flat rate, that means you can knock out jobs quicker and earn more money, upping your overall salary.
Can You Make Six Figures as a Mechanic?
Look, we’re not saying you can’t earn six figures as a mechanic, it’s just less likely to happen. That’s because the top 10 percent of earners average about $72,000 a year, which is still significantly below the $100,000 mark.
But if you live in an area with a high cost of living, have plenty of experience, and are extremely proficient at your job, it’s possible to bring in six figures.
Just know that if you start bringing in that much money, you’re in the top 1 percent of automotive earners.
Other Expenses Involved
When you’re trying to answer the question of how much mechanics make, it’s important to take into consideration the other expenses that go into becoming a mechanic.
Because while you need the expertise and experience to land a job, one thing aspiring mechanics may not realize is that almost every shop out there requires the mechanic to bring their own toolbox and tools.
This might not seem like a big deal, but because a high-quality toolbox and tool set can cost between $25,000 and $50,000, that’s no small expense. Home mechanic tool sets and socket sets alone won’t cut it.
Without the right tools, you can’t complete the job, and with subpar tools, it’ll take longer than necessary.
And since mechanics make a flat-rate salary, if it’s taking them longer to complete a job it’s costing them money.
It’s the equivalent of needing to buy a new car to get a job, and then you need to pay off that car with the salary you’re earning.
While it’s an excellent long-term investment for an automotive mechanic, it is a cost you’ll want to take into consideration when you’re trying to get into the career field. Even more so if you want to set up your own shop.
How to Become a Mechanic
Now that you know the answer to how much mechanics make, it’s up to you to decide if you want to become a professional mechanic. If you do, the first thing you’ll want to do is get some kind of experience in the field.
If you already know what you’re doing, you can jump straight to ASE certifications — that way you have something to highlight to prospective employers. However, if you don’t there are plenty of schools that help get you the experience you need.
Schools like UTI specialize in automotive mechanics, and there are plenty of colleges that offer automotive programs to help you get a feel for the career.
Just know that you don’t need an automotive degree to get a job as a mechanic, you really just need to know what you’re doing.
While you’re going to school, go ahead and start picking up tools and other things you’ll need for your toolbox.
Once you have the necessary experience, you can start sending applications out! If you’re in an area with plenty of dealerships and other automotive shops, it shouldn’t be too long before someone reaches out to you for an interview.
So, how much do mechanics make? It really depends on a lot of factors. But now that you have a better idea of how everything works, it’s up to you to decide if it’s a career field you want to get into.
You’re not going to make a ton of money, but you get to work with your hands doing something that you love, and that alone makes it an extremely rewarding career field for many people.
Do you have questions about becoming a professional mechanic or have an experience you want to share? We’d love to hear from you! Drop a comment below.