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Automotive Technician

Kaihangarau Pūkaha Waka

Alternative titles for this job

Automotive technicians service and repair vehicles and their parts and systems.

Pay

Light vehicle automotive technicians usually earn

$18-$37 per hour

Heavy vehicle automotive technicians usually earn

$26-$39 per hour

Source: Automotive Employment NZ, 2016 and MTA, 2017.

Job opportunities

Chances of getting a job as an automotive technician are good due to a shortage of workers.

Pay

Pay for automotive technicians varies depending on experience, the type of vehicle they specialise in, and the region they work in.

  • Apprentice light vehicle automotive technicians and those with less than two years' experience usually start on minimum wage, going up to $20 an hour.
  • Light vehicle automotive technicians with two to five years' experience usually earn between $21 and $30 an hour.
  • Senior and master light vehicle automotive technicians, and those working as supervisors can earn between $29 and $37 an hour.
  • Heavy vehicle automotive technicians can earn between $26 and $35 an hour, with senior and master technicians earning up to $39 an hour.
  • Some very skilled automotive technicians may earn more than this.

Those running a business may also earn more than this, but their income depends on the success of their business.

Sources: Automotive Employment NZ, 2016; MTA, 'Repairer Salary and Wage Survey Results', 2017.

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)

What you will do

Automotive technicians may do some or all of the following:

  • check faults in vehicles, and work out what is causing them
  • dismantle and rebuild, repair or replace engines, parts or systems
  • service vehicles and change lubricants (such as oil), coolants (such as radiator coolant) and filters
  • carry out Warrant of Fitness and Certificate of Fitness checks
  • upgrade and modify vehicles
  • interact with customers.

Skills and knowledge

Automotive technicians need to have knowledge of:

  • vehicle engines, parts and systems
  • vehicle electronic systems
  • Warrant of Fitness and Certificate of Fitness regulations and safety standards
  • health and safety standards in the workshop.

Working conditions

Automotive technicians:

  • usually work regular business hours, but may work shifts, weekends and be on call
  • work in garages and workshops
  • work in conditions that can be loud, dusty and dirty
  • may travel locally to repair vehicles that have broken down.

What's the job really like?

Automotive technician video

Julius talks about life as an automotive technician - 1.13 mins. (Video courtesy of Got a Trade? Got it Made!)

From a young age I was very interested in cars and particularly modified cars. Leaving school at 18, the best way for me to get into the motor sport industry was to do an apprenticeship.

The financial aspect of an apprenticeship was really appealing to me. I didn’t have to pay for my tuition and that has put me ahead of my peers, in the fact that I can look at buying a house this year and none of my friends who went to university can do that.

I finished my apprenticeship about a year ago. Since then I have taken up MITO’s first line management course, and in doing so I have managed to become workshop manager. That means I manage the seven guys we’ve got on the floor here. I organise parts, organise jobs, deal with customers. But for me I have had to step up my game, taking what I learnt on the floor and applying it to the people that are working under me.

Looking back on my apprenticeship I am really glad I did it. It means that I get to do a day job that I really enjoy, involved in an industry that I really wanted to be in and I’ve really enjoyed it.

I am Julius, I’m 22 and I’ve got it made.

Entry requirements

There are no specific requirements to become an automotive technician. However, employers usually prefer you to have a qualification and full driver's licence for the type of vehicle you are working on.

To become a qualified automotive technician, you need to complete an apprenticeship in light or heavy vehicle automotive engineering.

The industry training organisation MITO oversees automotive technician apprenticeships.

Entry requirements for light vehicle automotive technicians working with cars, motorcycles and other light vehicles

To become a qualified light vehicle automotive technician you need to complete an apprenticeship and gain a New Zealand Certificate in Automotive Engineering (Level 4). This was previously the National Certificate in Motor Industry – Automotive Electrical and Mechanical Engineering (Level 4).

You can specialise in different types of light vehicles such as:

  • cars
  • motorcycles
  • outdoor power equipment like lawnmowers.

Entry requirements for heavy vehicle automotive technicians working with heavy machines such as earthmoving machinery

To become a qualified heavy vehicle automotive technician you need to complete an apprenticeship and gain a New Zealand Certificate in Heavy Automotive Engineering (Level 4). This was previously the National Certificate in Motor Industry – Automotive Heavy Engineering (Level 4).

You can specialise in different types of heavy vehicles such as:

  • heavy trucks
  • bulldozers
  • farm vehicles like cultivators.

Secondary education

No specific secondary education is required for this job, but NCEA Level 1 with a minimum of 12 numeracy credits and 12 literacy credits is useful.

For Year 11 to 13 students, the Ignition and Accelerate StartUp programmes run by MITO are a good way to gain industry experience.

StartUp students can gain:

  • up to 42 NCEA credits 
  • practical work experience
  • a National Certificate in Motor Industry – Foundation Skills (Level 1).

These programmes may help you gain an apprenticeship, but do not reduce the amount of time it takes to complete it.

Additional requirements for specialist roles:

To do Warrant of Fitness or Certificate of Fitness checks you need to be approved as a vehicle inspector by the New Zealand Transport Agency.

Personal requirements

Automotive technicians need to be:

  • accurate, logical and patient
  • safety-conscious
  • alert, with an eye for detail
  • able to provide good customer service and explain technical terms to customers.

Useful experience

Useful experience for automotive technicians includes:

  • work on cars and other vehicles
  • work in an automotive workshop.

Physical requirements

Automotive technicians need to have good general health as they spend a lot of time working in, under and around vehicles. They also need good hand-eye co-ordination and good hearing.

Find out more about training

MITO
0800 88 2121 - www.mito.org.nz
Check out related courses

What are the chances of getting a job?

Automotive technicians in short supply and high demand

Demand for light and heavy vehicle automotive technicians is strong because:

  • high rates of car ownership in New Zealand mean a large number of cars regularly need servicing
  • high volumes of freight, such as wood, plants, meat and seafood, are transported by road, and the Ministry for Primary Industries predicts that this will increase, meaning more trucks will need servicing
  • large roading projects and forestry operations use earthmoving and forestry equipment, trucks and other heavy vehicles, which need servicing.

Over 16,000 automotive technicians work in New Zealand, but this is not enough to meet demand, and employers find it difficult to get staff.

As a result, motor mechanic (automotive technician) and automotive air conditioning technician appear on Immigration New Zealand's immediate skill shortage list. Diesel motor mechanic (heavy vehicle automotive technician) appears on Immigration New Zealand's long-term skill shortage list. This means the Government is actively encouraging skilled automotive technicians from overseas to work in New Zealand.

Types of employers varied

Automotive technicians work for:

  • vehicle dealerships and servicing companies
  • agricultural equipment servicing companies
  • heavy equipment servicing companies that deal with machines such as forklifts, excavators and earthmoving equipment
  • road transport (heavy trucking) companies
  • passenger transport (bus) companies
  • workshops that specialise in fixing farm vehicles such as quad bikes.

Twelve percent of automotive technicians are self-employed, and 8% own a business where they employ others.

Sources

  • Automotive Employment NZ, 'People Voted and Bought Vehicles in September', October 2017, (www.automotiveemployment.co.nz).
  • Automotive Employment NZ website, accessed November 2017, (www.automotiveemployment.co.nz).
  • Immigration New Zealand, 'Immediate Skill Shortage List', 25 June 2018, (www.immigration.govt.nz).
  • Immigration New Zealand, 'Long-term Skill Shortage List', 19 February 2018, (www.immigration.govt.nz).
  • Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2006-2014 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers Directorate – Tertiary Education Commission), 2015.
  • Ministry for Primary Industries, 'Situation and Outlook for New Zealand Agriculture and Forestry (15 September 2017)', 2017, (www.mpi.govt.nz).
  • National Infrastructure Unit, 'The Thirty-Year New Zealand Infrastructure Plan 2015', accessed January 2017, (www.infrastructure.govt.nz).

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)

Progression and specialisations

Automotive technicians may progress to become self-employed or set up their own businesses.

With further training, qualified automotive technicians can become senior or master technicians.

Automotive technicians may move into management or customer service roles, or into related jobs such as automotive electrician.

Automotive technicians train and specialise in either light or heavy vehicles:

Heavy Vehicle Automotive Technician
Heavy vehicle automotive technicians service and repair heavy vehicles such as trucks, buses, bulldozers and tractors.
Light Vehicle Automotive Technician
Light vehicle automotive technicians service and repair light vehicles including cars, trucks, motorcycles, and outdoor power equipment such as lawnmowers or woodchippers.
An automotive technician kneels in front of a car where a wheel has been removed

Automotive technicians fix engines, brakes and other parts of vehicles

Last updated 30 March 2019