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How much do mechanics earn per hour in the US: What is the average salary?

Mechanics are in high demand, particularly those prepared to work in the automotive and aviation sectors. How much do these workers make?

TEHRAN, IRAN - MARCH 05: Female auto mechanics 31 year-old Kiyana Yarahmadi and her friend 32 year-old Nilufar Farahmand (not seen), repair the car at a car service ahead of the International Women's Day in Tehran, Iran on March 05, 2023. Women mechanics, who stated that they had difficulties in starting the profession because it is considered more of a men's job, dream of working with leading automobile companies. Kiyana and Nilufar, who set an example for many women who want to be mechanics in the country, aim to gain experience abroad to improve themselves. (Photo by Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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As the economy has reopened, the demand for mechanics has shot up. Depending on the sector one hopes to enter, there can be major differences in income and the training necessary to access higher-paying roles. Depending on the company one works for, the wage may be offered as an hourly rate or an annual salary.

How much do automotive mechanics make?

In May 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the median salary for an automotive service technician or mechanic was $26,880 or $22.54/hour. At the lower end of the spectrum, the bottom ten percent of earners had an income of $29,010 or less, while those on the highest end were making upwards of $75,100.

What helps to explain these differences in pay?

The first variable is the region where one lives. In areas where the cost of living is higher, the nominal wage offered to a worker will also be higher. However, just because the ‘nominal’ wage is more than what may be offered in other areas does not mean the worker has greater purchasing power.

Additionally, training may help to increase the salary offered by one’s employer. The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence offers a certification program for “nine different automobile specialty areas: automatic transmission/transaxle, brakes, light vehicle diesel engines, electrical/electronic systems, engine performance, engine repair, heating, and air-conditioning, manual drive train and axles, and suspension and steering.” Certification requires that technicians either have at least two years of experience “or relevant schooling and one year of experience.”

Community colleges often offer programs to receive technical training that can increase the chance that an automotive mechanic be hired.

Aircraft mechanics

Compared to those who work in the automotive industry, aircraft mechanics and service technicians have higher incomes, on average. In May 2021, the BLS reported that the median annual wage for these workers was $65,380 (or $31.52/hour) —nearly $40,000 more than automotive mechanics. The bottom ten percent earned $38,270 a year or less, while those at the top were making $98,590 or more.

What helps to explain these differences in pay?

Experience is a major factor in what sets those with higher wages apart from those at the low end of the earnings spectrum.

Additionally, one’s education can also be a divisive factor in determining pay.

There are two main paths to receiving the education necessary. The first is through attending “an Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-approved aviation maintenance technician school.” Others are able to learn through military service. Most airlines or maintenance companies in the aviation sector require that mechanics receive the FFA certification.

At an approved institution, instructors will teach students all the information they need to know to pass FAA exams to ensure mechanics hired in the sector all meet certain standards.


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