Automotive mechanics have the potential to make a six-figure income if they run their own businesses. Like everyone, mechanics must start at the bottom, meaning much smaller base salaries.
However, since there is always a high demand for mechanics, you have plenty of ways to supplement your income. With 655,000 automotive technicians and mechanics across the U.S., overtime is the number one way of boosting your income. Many mechanics may also choose to take on side hustles.
Let’s dive into how much a mechanic makes and how you can increase your salary.
What’s the Base Salary of a Mechanic?
The base salary of a mechanic depends on the state, but the average across the country is currently $22.93 per hour. Naturally, this is only an average and doesn’t account for the variations between states.
For example, New York sees an average base salary of more than $29, whereas in Oklahoma, the base pay is closer to $21.
Note that these are only the averages for an entry-level mechanic. More experienced mechanics may see their salaries push into the $30 and $40 per hour range depending on the auto shop.
How to Increase Your Salary as a Mechanic
There are plenty of ways for you to get a raise. The life of a mechanic is not just about fixing cars. With modern vehicles becoming more complex than ever, holding special certifications makes you instantly more desirable.
However, as you consider your career, make sure you protect yourself and your future earnings with specific car mechanic insurance. Not only is it essential to defend yourself against lawsuits, but it protects you if you suffer a workplace injury.
Here are some of the ways you can upgrade your earning power.
1. Never Stop Learning
Holding a basic auto tech degree is an excellent start to your career, but your learning should never stop. You have countless certifications you can take, even if you have several years of experience in the business.
For example, you may decide to take an ASE Master tech certification or opt for certifications offered by specific parts suppliers, such as Bosch.
In many cases, your employer may even sponsor you to go back to school if you’ve demonstrated a desire to advance your knowledge.
2. Invest Your Sweat Equity
The Fair Labor Standards Act dictates how flat rate mechanics are paid for overtime. Any hours worked beyond the traditional 40-hour workweek must be paid 1.5 times the normal rate.
Of course, your employer can dictate how much overtime you receive. Thankfully, there’s often an abundance of work within the auto business, so mechanics who work overtime are welcomed with open arms.
Hourly rate employees will have different arrangements for what they will earn for their overtime. Make sure you negotiate hard with your employer. If it’s anything other than 1.5 times the standard rate, you should probably be searching for another job.
Obviously, the more overtime you work, the more you will earn.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Change Jobs
If you’re working at a small mom-and-pop garage, the chances are the amount you can earn will be capped. After all, a little garage on the edge of town will always have a glass ceiling on earnings.
When you believe you’ve extracted as much experience and expertise out of your current position as you can consider searching for a new job.
If you’re willing to relocate to a state where salaries are higher, you will have more opportunities.
4. Pick Up Temp Jobs
Temp jobs are a gold mine for mechanics who’re willing to work. The people offering these temp jobs are typically desperate and will happily pay above and beyond the minimum rate. It also demonstrates to your employer that you’re a hard worker they can rely on, which could leave you with the pick of the temp jobs.
You can also utilize several online platforms to pick up temp work, including Mechanics Marketplace.
5. Work on Getting Promoted
Base-level auto mechanics will start on lower salaries. Still, if you’re managing the entire team and acting as the liaison between your boss and the guys on the floor, you will also be better positioned to earn more.
The viability of getting promoted within your organization depends on who you work for. There may be little room for advancement if you’re working for a smaller garage. On the other hand, working for a major dealership with thousands of employees nationwide may also lead to difficulties because you are just a number.
Assess your organization and see whether you have the chance to become a senior auto mechanic where you work.
6. Open Your Own Business
The auto mechanics earning the most money are those who have opened their own businesses. Gaining control over your operations puts you in a position to build your empire. Unfortunately, salaried employees will only ever be able to earn so much. Moreover, you are at the mercy of someone else.
Do remember that being the best mechanic in the world doesn’t automatically mean you will be a success when opening your own business.
Take some business classes in your downtime and evaluate whether you have what it takes to create a successful business. Setting up an auto shop costs thousands. It’s a sizeable investment that will require significant time and outside investment to build your auto shop business.
Starting your own business doesn’t guarantee profitability during your first few years. You need to be willing to take on more work than ever before. Accept that it could take a few years for you to actually generate a profit.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor was your career as an auto mechanic. Dedicate yourself to learning, working hard, and exploring the potential for switching jobs or opening your own business.
Your skills will always be in demand, regardless of the economy, so this is one of the most secure roles you can jump into.
What’s your plan for increasing your salary as a mechanic?