An automotive electrical systems repair technician—or simply, an automotive electrician—is a person who specializes in the electrical wiring and electrical components of automobiles.
Automotive electricians are trained to install brand new electrical wiring and components, as well as maintain, diagnose, and repair already existing electrical components. They can work on both cars and commercial vehicles. They most often work in dealerships and independent automotive service centers.
Automotive Electrician Training
To become an automotive electrician, you must have good problem-solving skills as well as a passion for electrical systems and automobiles.
Although not all employers require formal education, many do, and it can be a good investment. Auto electricians should complete an automotive electrical systems program or certification through a qualified vocational school, technical school, community college, or trade school. The education and training to become an automotive electrician uses both classroom study and hands-on training to learn.
Automotive electrical systems certifications that are earned from vocational schools or community colleges can be completed in as few as 10 months.
Associate degree programs in automotive technology typically take two years to complete if you attend school full time. Many automotive technology associate degree programs require the completion of chemistry, physics, and advanced mathematics courses. Additionally, many degree programs will require that you learn how to read electrical wiring plans.
If you want to secure a great job as an automotive electrician, then it is also recommended that you receive an official certification from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) in automotive repair service.
Many employers look for this certification when making hiring decisions. However, most ASE tests require at least two years of on-the-job training before you are considered eligible to take the test. So, you can certainly begin your career or training before taking the ASE—it is merely a strong career move to consider for the future.
Manufacturer Specific Certifications
You may also opt to take extra classes that focus on specific manufacturer technology—such as electrical programs involving BMW, Nissan, and Toyota vehicles—which can give your career a broader scope.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), auto electricians with manufacturer specific certifications should possess the following traits:
- Knowledge of electrical and electronic vehicle equipment maintenance
- Knowledge of automotive electrical and electronic repair and troubleshooting
- Ability to diagnose and solve technical problems
- Ability to work well with your hands in small spaces
Auto Electrician Duties & Responsibilities
Auto electricians must be trained to install, maintain, diagnose, and repair the following components on automobiles:
- Engine management systems
- Fuel injection
- Anti-lock brakes
- Control systems
- Heating and air systems
- All wiring and charging systems
In addition to the above list, an automotive electrician should also be familiar with the entertainment systems in automobiles, including stereo and radio players, built-in vehicle GPS systems, and vehicle information systems. As technology continues to advance, these systems become increasingly important. Formal training in computer-based diagnoses and repair tools is imperative.
A Good Fit
Finding the source of an electrical problem in vehicles can be a challenge, but if you love tackling projects and improving people’s cars, this might be the perfect career for you.
Like all careers, gaining as much specialized knowledge as you can will set you apart from your competition, ultimately allowing you to snag a job as an automotive electrician. Find a mechanic trade school near you now.