Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Green Jobs Series: Careers in Electric Vehicles [Installment Four]

All vehicles need to be occasionally maintained and repaired. However, special skills and knowledge are required of automotive service technicians and mechanics to work on electric vehicles. This installment of The Daily Leap's green job series describes some of the most common jobs in electric vehicle maintenance.

Occupations in Electric Vehicle Maintenance

Much of the routine maintenance and repair work can be done by normal repair workers, but the electrical systems and drivetrain will often need skilled workers familiar with electric vehicles. Repairing or installing electric vehicle batteries requires workers who are trained to work with specific types of batteries. Batteries need to be replaced every few years depending on usage and type of battery.

Job Duties

Automotive service technicians and mechanics inspect, maintain, and repair automobiles that run on gasoline, electricity, or a combination of the two. They plan and perform basic car maintenance and vehicle repairs. The job of automotive service technicians and mechanics has evolved from simple mechanical repairs to high-level technology-related work. Integrated electronic systems and complex computers regulate vehicles and their performance on the road. Fixing problems with these systems requires workers to use computerized shop equipment and work with electronic components as well as traditional hand tools.

Education and Training

Automotive service technicians and mechanics are increasingly required to have formal training because of the rapidly growing sophistication of automotive technology. Training typically begins in high school or a postsecondary vocational school or community college. Certification from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) is usually required to work for larger repair shops or at dealerships. Formal education programs can last from a few weeks of on-the-job training to a 2-year associate’s degree. On-the-job training is necessary before a worker can begin to work independently. It typically takes 2 to 5 years of experience to become a fully qualified automotive service technician through ASE.

Electric vehicles use new and unique technologies, so technicians generally are trained to work on a particular type of vehicle and often specialize in vehicles made by a single manufacturer. Auto manufacturers typically provide this specialized training to technicians and mechanics. Workers are usually sent by their employers to formal training courses to gain certification on a particular vehicle type.

Programs, such as the National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium (NAFTC), have been developed to train workers on a wide variety of skills needed to work on electric or alternative fuel vehicles. NAFTC provides curricula and training to secondary and postsecondary students studying automotive technology as well as automotive technicians who are already working in the field.


The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not have wage data specific to the electric vehicle industry. The median annual wage for automotive service technicians and mechanics in the automotive repair and maintenance industry group was $33,010 for May 2010. The wage is for the United States as a whole; wages vary by employer and location.

For more detailed information on vehicle maintenance occupations in the electric vehicle industry, follow the Occupational Outlook Handbook link.

Tomorrow’s final electric vehicle industry series installment: Occupations in Infrastructure Development

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