What is the difference between a Mechanic and an Automotive Technician?

August 4, 2020

When a customer walks or drives into one of the many garages up and down the country they may not be worried about the role and responsibilities of a mechanic vs those of an automotive technician.

However, if you ask for the views of automotive manufacturers who have a huge stake in company-run workshops, the result will be quite different. For the longest time, mechanics and technicians were seen as interchangeable professions – mere semantics – this is no longer the case.

As 1,000 hp cars become a reality, machines, and technologies enter a new era of sophistication, engines, brakes, and even suspension now, take a sensor-led approach. With efficiency and emissions tech becoming more important than ever, the introduction of specialization and analysis in the workshop or service center becomes that equally important.

Today, the automotive industry recognizes the importance of having skilled auto mechanics and technicians in the auto repair workshop or factory.

Their confidence and the array of mech skills allows them to offer an insight into even the toughest of cases, field questions from car owners, and provide an explanation of the condition of a vehicle of any category with a sense of confidence and distinction that reflects positively on the automotive brands they represent.

The perception of your average mechanic has chanced from someone with problem-solving knowledge and experience to one that is an expert and can offer all the answers to automotive tasks.

Today, the entire landscape for automobiles has changed. From auto repair shops seeing most of their patrons come in for routine car maintenance and small repairs with almost no resources to provide advice regarding car issues except for these repair shops, today, they have resources to help diagnose their problems through a search query on an automotive website or blog posts.

The differences between an auto mechanic and a master automotive technician have taken on more significance in this new-age world.

Understanding The Difference


So, when at a point in the not too distant past, the answer to the question ‘what is the difference between a mechanic and a technician?’ would quite simply have been one of semantics and not much else, today that situation has changed.

As the duties of the staff and employees at dealerships and repair shops have evolved, so too has the definition for the profession of the people that work there.

While the debate about the significance of these positions still rages on, there is a clear difference in the status of the automotive mechanic and an auto technician. The respect and the rate at which expectations have changed is a sign of the growth of this industry from the previous generation to the current one.

While a mechanic was seen as someone who would approach the vehicles, wrench in hand, to take everything apart and try and look for the signs of the problem, auto technicians are seen as repair shop wizards who use computers and technology to perform a diagnosis on the car or truck that they are working on, and use high-level equipment to extract data and identify issue areas in these cars or trucks.

The diagnostics tool used by an auto technician is more data and systems related than it is about skill and experience. Since the nature of the job and the pressure that comes with it, and the level of money involved in an automotive repairs organization has all changed, the jobs have had to change as well.

So while there are similarities in the position of auto mechanics and auto technicians, the way the two approach their work process and thinking are different from the times of their predecessors.

You will find that the role of a mechanic is more hands-on, and that of a technician deals with aspects that require knowledge of computer systems and specialist diagnosis equipment that will help perform a repair job.



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Another key difference between mechanics and automotive technicians is the means through which they acquire their education. A mechanic will most likely undertake an apprenticeship in order to understand the machinery involved in a garage or join a course that will teach them to care for motor vehicles.

The terms auto mechanic and shop workers generally use may not always be the technical term used to describe the problem. The car work that people do as an auto mechanic is a lot more trial and error, and a computer system is not put to use for a lot more than answering an email or view an article on the latest developments in the automotive space.

The piece by piece kind of approach to resolving concerns and understanding what’s wrong

Technicians, on the other hand, need to attend college and acquire certifications from an automotive technology program that deals with the information required to become a competent member of a dealership repair and service team.

All the tools for the trade such as auto repair computer systems, professional codes of conduct, types of equipment made available by potential employers at a vehicle repair shop, and problem-solving skills and training required to excel at the job are all taught as part of this type of course in a school environment.

Today, even working on something as simple as brakes or air conditioning, tasks that were once grease monkey fodder, require certification from programs. Furthermore, the engine has become an area or field that isn’t just a collection of parts and things either, but a highly technical machine that requires its own set of programs and specific steps to identify and deal with problems.

The engine is just one example of the level of work that high-end vehicles require, but all components, minor or major, matter and rely on many things to run properly.

ASE or Automotive Service Excellence certifications can also be acquired thanks to technicians’ courses. Car mechanic shops that are ASE accredited are seen as ones that know their trade, and with good reason.

A student who is ASE certified is likely to get a position much more easily thanks to the prestige of these tags.

Pro tip – How to get ASE Certification

Job Profiles

job profiles of a mechanic and automotive technician

As you may have picked up on by now, the tasks of auto mechanics and technicians aren’t just a case of the same thing with a different name or title. The post that these positions occupy in terms of the fields they operate in, the services they offer, and the variety of tools they use are all different.

The quality of students passing out after the completion of a degree in an automotive technology program will differ from those with a mechanics certificate from a trade school. The level of trust, salary rates, expertise, that a mechanic and a technician possess, will differ too.

This will affect the pace at which they can work, the level of problems they can solve, and the number of hours of training the two will need before they get a glimpse of a customer’s car will all be different. It is a fact that technicians are taught skills in categories that mechanics don’t cover.

From how to use computers to look up articles, the types of words that are appropriate for an email exchange with a client, the right technical term or word or name to use for a specific matter, and many more things. The training received by technicians outstrips that of mechanics and others in the place of work.

In conclusion, if you are interested in the automotive space, there is a place for both technicians and mechanics that you can explore. The option is always there to choose from and becoming a mechanic or a technician is all about personal preference.

Mechanics are guys that are more practical, and a technician is a person that is more focused on the computer-derived, data-driven aspect of car repair.

The vocation of a mechanic and a technician is on the menu for an auto enthusiast, and which way you choose to go will depend on the age of the person in question, their interests, and their priorities.

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