Mechanics and Auto Techs in Greater Demand

Idaho students training to become auto mechanics at the Dennis Professional Technical School in Boise, Idaho.

Idaho students training to become auto mechanics at the Dennis Professional Technical School in Boise, Idaho.

The need for automotive service technicians and mechanics in Idaho is expected to grow 14.9 percent from 3,079 workers in 2012 to 3,537 in 2022, according the 2012-2022 Long-Term Occupational Projections issued by the Idaho Department of Labor.

Nationwide, this occupation will grow by 13.6 percent, according to estimates provided by Economic Modeling Systems International, an independent economic forecasting firm.

Multiple factors may contribute to Idaho’s stronger-than-average projected growth in this occupation. One may be related to income. Idaho’s per capita income in 2013 stood at $36,146, nationally the figure was $40,316. The gap in income is likely to cause more Idahoans to drive and buy older vehicles. Older vehicles are generally in need of greater repair and maintenance, so the need for mechanics and automotive technicians increases due to demand.

Idaho’s population age 64 and older grew 19 percent from mid-2010 to mid-2014 – a group that overall tends to keep driving their current car rather than buy new, according to an analysis of U.S. Census data.

Becoming an automotive mechanic is harder than it was a few decades ago. In the past many mechanics were either self-taught, learned on the job or some of both. Today, however, according to data provided by O*NET Online, 72 percent of mechanics nationwide have some postsecondary education. The amount of education is not surprising since many cars such as hybrids and newer vehicles have complex computer and electrical systems which require a high skill set to repair and maintain.

The top five businesses employing Idaho’s mechanics and automotive technicians are:

  • New car dealers – 27. 6 percent
  • General automotive repair – 26. 8 percent
  • Used car dealers – 6. 8 percent
  • Automotive parts and accessories stores – 6. 5 percent
  • Tire dealers – 5. 6 percent

Few women pursue careers as mechanics in Idaho. According to data from EMSI only 1. 1 percent of Idaho’s mechanics and automotive technicians are female.

Being a mechanic can be rewarding, and reasonably lucrative career option for those wishing a challenging career that does not require a four-year college degree. The median wage in 2014 for automotive service technicians and mechanics was $17. 33. The growing demand and relative stability of this occupation likely makes this career an attractive option for many in Idaho.

Dan.Cravens@labor.idaho.gov,
regional economist (208) 236-6710 ext. 3713