There is a lot of road in California as it is home to more than 14.5 million registered vehicles. The state also features the highest number of auto mechanics in the country and the average salary of a California auto mechanic holds a No.5 state ranking. Meanwhile, the California Air Resources Board has done a lot for emissions in the state. The clean air rules set forth by that board has managed to change the entire automobile industry. There is always something happening with automotive news and enthusiasts in the state of California. The present day has become a promising time for auto mechanics to launch their careers in a state that is budding with possibilities.

California Auto Mechanic Education

Throughout the state of California, there are a myriad of options to choose from when it comes to obtaining an auto mechanic education. Programs in automotive technology are available at numerous junior colleges, community colleges, technical institutes and adult learning centers. Students have the option earning an Associate Degree, a Certificate of Completion, or a Diploma. Depending on which option is selected, the time length will vary. Most educational options can be completed in anywhere from a one to two-year span of time.

The procedure for completing an auto mechanic education is individualized according to each institution. However, most curriculums are reflective of one another. The combination of classroom work and practical instruction in auto repair furnishes students with the necessary skills to enter into the profession. Here is a look at some of the auto mechanic education programs in the state of California.

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  • Cypress College
    The Automotive Technology program at Cypress is NATEF certified and also offers manufacturer certification training.
    9200 Valley View Street
    Cypress, CA 90630
    Phone: (714) 484-7245
  • Pasadena City College
    There is an Associate Degree of Applied Science option, in addition to certificate options for students attending Pasadena City College.
    1570 E. Colorado Blvd.
    Pasadena, CA 91106
    Phone: 626-585-7123
  • Solano Community College
    An Associate Degree or a Certificate of Achievement can be earned through the Automotive Technician program at Solano Community College.
    Fairfield Campus
    4000 Suisun Valley Road
    Fairfield, CA 94534
    Phone: (707) 864-7000
  • Los Angeles Trade Technical College
    There are a variety of automotive repair educational options provided through the LA Trade Technical College.
    400 West Washington Blvd
    Los Angeles, CA 90015
    Phone (213) 763-7000
  • Barstow Community College
    The Automotive Technology Certificate program at Barstow lasts 54 weeks and is classified as an undergraduate certificate.
    2700 Barstow Road
    Barstow, California 92311
    Phone: 760-252-2411

Auto Mechanic Work Experience in California

Work experience in California is an integral and necessary step for all auto mechanics. Gaining experience in an auto repair setting sharpens their skillset. It also accumulates the necessary time for ASE certifications. Auto mechanics have to be approved to take an ASE certification exam by showing they have built up ample work experience. This typically requires a set number of years working in a professional automotive repair shop. There are plenty of workplaces that new and veteran mechanics can choose from in California. Here is a look at some of those businesses that may serve as a possible place of employment for auto mechanics in California:

  • My Mechanic
    888 Folsom Street
    San Francisco, CA 94107
    Phone: (415) 552-0555

California EPA 609-Refrigerant Certification

Auto mechanics who repair and service motor vehicle air conditioner (MVAC) units must hold a valid certification from the EPA. This is known as a 609-refrigerant certification and can be obtained by passing an exam that was created by the EPA. The repair of an MVAC unit requires auto mechanics to handle refrigerant, which can be dangerous. There are specific guidelines for this task, which are covered in the 609-refrigerant examination. There are also online training programs that can prepare auto mechanics for this exam. Here are some of the 609-refrigerant certification training programs accessible to auto mechanics.

  • ESCO Institute
    P.O. Box 521
    Mount Prospect, IL 60056
    Phone: (847) 253-2220

ASE Certifications in California

The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) is a name that is identifiable to all auto mechanics should. This organization is highly respected and is also entrusted with issuing certifications that denote auto mechanics as being above-average in their knowledge level. An ASE certification can only be earned when an auto mechanic passes a specific exam and that follows a certain amount of work experience. The basis for these certifications is to show that auto mechanics have both field experience and technical knowledge of the job. Being able to show employers ASE certifications is a way for auto mechanics to increase their value. Higher-paying jobs typically go to auto mechanics with a greater number of certifications. Those with certifications in an entire test series are labeled master auto mechanics. For California residents who are looking to obtain an ASE certification, they can do so in any of the following categories:

  • Auto Maintenance and Light Repair Certification Test (G1)
  • Automobile & Light Truck Certification Tests (A Series)
  • Collision Repair & Refinish Certification Tests (B Series)
  • Damage Analysis & Estimating Certification Test (B6)
  • Automobile Service Consultant Certification Test (C1)
  • Truck Equipment Certification Tests (E Series)
  • Alternate Fuels Certification Test (F1)
  • Transit Bus Certification Tests (H Series)
  • Advanced Engine Performance Specialist Certification Test (L1)
  • Electronic Diesel Engine Diagnosis Specialist Certification Test (L2)
  • Light Duty Hybrid/Electric Vehicle Specialist Test (L3)
  • Engine Machinist Certification Tests (M Series)
  • Parts Specialist Certification Tests (P Series)
  • School Bus Certification Tests (S Series)
  • Medium-Heavy Truck Certification Tests (T Series)
  • Undercar Specialist Exhaust Systems Test (X1)

Taking an ASE certification exam has to be done in person at an official test center that has been set up by the ASE. Auto mechanics can visit any test center, although their exam date must be pre-scheduled. Auto mechanics must also be approved take these exams and are required to follow ASE protocol when visiting a test center. Here are some of the many ASE test centers in California.

Test Center #5849
San Francisco – California Street
100 California Street
STE #105
San Francisco, California 94111
(415) 362-1311

Test Center #7311
Prometric Satellite Center
Columbia College
11600 Columbia College Dr
Sonora, California 95370
(209) 588-2173

Test Center #0540
Stockton, CA
3520 Brookside Road
Suite 121
Stockton, California 95219
(209) 474-9780

Test Center #0544
Bakersfield
1800 30th Street – Westchester Corp
Plaza
Suite 360
Bakersfield, California 93301
(661) 395-3162

Test Center #7119
Prometric Satellite Center
4105 South Street
Lakewood, California 90712
(562) 206-2491

Manufacturer Certification Training in California

Manufacturer certification training equips auto mechanics with the skills needed to conduct repair and service on all vehicles made by a single manufacturer. This is considered a type of specialized skill, which allows auto mechanics to work for dealerships and service centers that conduct automotive service on vehicles produced by one manufacturer. Companies like Ford, BMW, Chrysler, and Honda have training programs of their own. This training is offered at various colleges as part of their automotive technology programs. In these programs, students learn more than general automotive repair. They are taught the specifics of working on vehicles made by that manufacturer. A manufacturer certification can lead to a long and productive career working at one location, as many are in business for quite some time. Here is a look at some of the manufacturer certification training programs in California:

  • Toyota T-Ten Program
    San Diego Miramar College
    10440 Black Mountain Road
    San Diego, CA 92126
    Contact: Joseph P. Young
    Phone: 619-388-7672
  • Ford Asset Program
    Consumnes River College
    8401 Center Parkway
    Sacramento, CA 95823
    Phone: (916) 691-7344
  • BMW Step
    BMW Training Center
    1175 Dupont Rd.
    Ontario, CA 91761
    Phone: (909) 605-0691
  • Honda PACT
    Evergreen Valley College
    3095 Yerba Buena Road
    San Jose, CA 95135
    (408) 274-7900

California Auto Mechanic Salary

The sheer size of California has enabled all different salaries to be paid to auto mechanics. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the median salary of an auto mechanic in California is $43,650 per year. Those statistics also showed that the top 10% of auto mechanics in California earn $73,410 annually. There is a multitude of factors that decide what an auto mechanic earns on an annual basis in California. Location is one factor while the amount of ASE certifications an auto mechanic has earned also plays a role. Work experience is yet another factor that weighs heavily into what an auto mechanic takes home over the course of a year. Here is a closer look at some of the median and top salaries based upon location in the state of California.

  • Los Angeles
    Top 10% Salary: $66,140 ($31.80 per hr)
    Median Salary: $39,490 ($18.99 per hr)
  • San Francisco
    Top 10% Salary: $91,550 ($44.02 per hr)
    Median Salary: $51,330 ($24.68 per hr)
  • Sacramento
    Top 10% Salary: $66,010 ($31.74 per hr)
    Median Salary: $43,410 ($20.87 per hr)
  • San Diego
    Top 10% Salary: $71,520 ($34.39 per hr)
    Median Salary: $40,890 ($19.66 per hr)