In 1998, 877,000 automotive technicians were employed nationwide, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Automotive Repair Leadership 2000 Conference estimates there is a shortage of 60,000 trained service and repair technicians. While 40,000 new techs will graduate from training programs, the deficit repeats the patterns of past years.
The average age of auto technicians is getting older as fewer new techs enter the profession to replace those who are retiring. In 1989, there were 347,000 techs between the ages of 25 and 34. By last year, that number had dropped to 246,000.
In 1998, there were 112,000 automotive techs certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).
ASE data states that more than 1,200 high school and post-secondary automotive mechanic training programs have been certified by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF), an ASE affiliate.
Today's qualified automotive tech, according to the ASE, must be able to interpret more than 1 million pages of service manuals to be able to repair any car on the road—the equivalent of 500 large city phone books.
Techs typically must attend 50-100 hours of update training per year, NATEF said, to stay abreast of the latest automotive technological developments.