If you’re looking for a new career in the mechanical sciences industry, you’ve probably heard that one of the most popular areas is automotive technology. With more cars on the road today than ever before—and more complex tech running those cars than ever before—technicians and mechanics are essential to keep America’s drivers on the go.
But some of the terminology can get confusing. What’s the difference between a technician and a mechanic?
Practically, the two are often used interchangeably to refer to anyone who works on cars. But in some cases, there can be a real difference between the type of work they do.
Auto mechanics have long been the ones you think of crawling under the hood, grease up to their elbows, using hand tools to perform maintenance and complete repairs. This is still true today for many working on cars.
But as cars have evolved, so have the jobs. While your title may be automotive mechanic, there’s no escaping the computerized and electronic components that cars rely on to run properly. Mechanics may still specialize in the machinery, but they must be familiar with the tech too.
When most people today think of an automotive technician, they’re less likely to think of someone underneath a car with a wrench in hand and more likely to think of someone reviewing performance data on a screen.
With the millions of lines of code that most cars now rely on, a firm grasp of the technology is what many auto techs specialize in. They’re often more concerned with diagnosing issues, solving electronic problems, and optimizing performance.
Regardless of the specializations and common distinctions between the two, all auto workers will need to be plenty familiar with both sides of the coin. At the end of the day, cars need to function both mechanically and technologically in order to perform. Automotive workers must be ready to make that happen for their customers.
If you’re ready to pursue a career in the field, most automotive service technicians and mechanics have training in automotive technology, automotive and diesel technology, collision and repair, or even manufacturer-specific training if you want to specialize in working with leading brands in the industry.
The Imagine America Foundation has a database of schools you can easily search to find programs in your area. IAF is proud to work with partner institutions like Universal Technical Institute, who offers training programs in a variety of technical fields—including automotive technology.