Career Map: Automotive Service Technician
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In Ontario, tradespersons that service and repair cars, motor homes, and small trucks are called Automotive Service Technicians. Automotive Service Technicians are generalists who work on all aspects of the mechanical, electrical, and electronic systems and components of these vehicles. Other specialized mechanical trades in Ontario are described in more detail in the “Related Trades and Occupations” section of this fact sheet.
For information on how to get your licence in other automotive trades, contact a Workplace Training Branch Apprenticeship office. There is a list of these offices at the end of this fact sheet.
Certification requirements in Ontario
Automotive Service Technicians must be certified to work in Ontario. The legislation that regulates this trade is the Apprenticeship and Certification Act (1998). This law states that all Automotive Service Technicians must have a valid Certificate of Qualification or be registered as an apprentice before they can work in Ontario. It is illegal to work as an Automotive Service Technician in Ontario without a certificate.
Trade certification is available through Workplace Training Branch Apprenticeship offices of the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU). To become a certified Automotive Service Technician in Ontario, you must do the following:
- complete an apprenticeship, which includes approximately five years of on-the-job training (about 90 per cent of the apprenticeship) and some in-school training (about 10 per cent of the apprenticeship). Apprenticeship is a training agreement between a person who wants to learn a skilled trade and an employer who needs a skilled worker. An apprentice earns at least minimum wage while working and learning the skills necessary to become a qualified tradesperson or journeyperson. Apprentices receive a Certificate of Apprenticeship when they complete their training. Employers often request this certificate as proof of training and experience.
- have the training and experience from another Canadian province or territory or another country that meets the requirements of an apprenticeship in Ontario
- apply for the Certificate of Qualification (often called the “C of Q”);
- pay the required fees; and
- write and pass the Certificate of Qualification exam.
Competencies required to practise your trade in Ontario
Before you can receive government certification, you must complete training that covers the competencies listed in the Apprenticeship Training Standards – Automotive Service Technician. This document lists in detail all of the skills and work tasks that Automotive Service Technicians must be able to demonstrate in order to be eligible to write the Certification of Qualification exam In Ontario, an employer who sponsors an apprenticeship signs off on each of the following competencies during an apprenticeship:
- Occupational Health and Safety procedures
- Braking Systems
- Suspension Systems and Frames
- Steering Systems
- Engine Systems
- Differentials, Drive shafts and Drive axle assemblies
- Transmission Systems
- Electrical Systems – Starting & Charging
- Electrical Systems – Body
- Heating, Ventilation, and Air-conditioning Systems
- Exhaust and Emission-control Systems
- Tires, Wheels, Rims and Hubs
- Body and Trim
As an internationally trained Automotive Service Technician, you must be able to prove that you have these skills before you can write the Certificate of Qualification exam.
When you apply for certification as an Automotive Service Technician, you are not required to pass an English language test, but the job requires excellent language skills. As an Automotive Service Technician, you must read and interpret technical and manufacturers’ manuals, health and safety guidelines, order forms, and other documents. You must also be able to give and receive instructions clearly and effectively.
To become certified, you must write a technical multiple-choice exam, which requires a knowledge and understanding of the English terms used in this trade.
There is no automatic certification for internationally trained tradespeople in any trade in Ontario, but there is an assessment process used to evaluate the training and experience of internationally trained tradespeople. The length of time that it will take you to become certified will depend on how closely your training and experience match the training standards for Automotive Service Technicians in Ontario. It can take as little as two weeks if you are immediately eligible to write the certification exam or as long as five years if you have to complete a full apprenticeship.
Before You Emigrate To Canada
Apprenticeship Training Standards – Automotive Service Technician is a useful reference if you are unfamiliar with the terminology used and the skills required in Ontario. You can get a copy of this booklet from a Workplace Training Branch Apprenticeship office in Ontario. (There is a list of these offices at the end of this fact sheet.)
You will need proof of your training and experience. Collect documentation that proves your skill level as an Automotive Service Technician. Include letters from employers or unions, diplomas, and other documents that describe your training and the work tasks you have performed. These documents must also show where and for how long you have worked as an Automotive Service Technician. It is important to include as much information as possible about your years of experience and your duties at work, because the evaluation of your skills will be based on your on-the-job experience.
When You Arrive in Ontario
The Workplace Training Branch Apprenticeship offices process all applications for trade certification in Ontario. When you arrive in Ontario, contact the office in your area and make an appointment to see a training consultant. If you haven’t already requested a copy of Apprenticeship Standards – Automotive Service Technician, you can get one from any office.
Step 1. Meeting a Training Consultant
The training consultant will ask you for documentation that describes your past work experience and training. Take as many of these documents as possible to this first meeting:
- your Social Insurance Number (SIN)
- letters from current or past employers, dated and written on company letterhead, showing the company name and address, the exact dates of your employment, the number of hours that you worked, your title, and a complete description of your job duties
- a letter from a union with the same information as above, if applicable
- trade certificates, diplomas, or licences
- official school transcripts from your training. You should also provide a detailed list of the subjects covered in each course and the length of each course.
If these documents are in a language other than English or French, bring a translation that is signed by a registered translator, a notary public, or a lawyer.
The training consultant will use these documents to compare your work experience to the requirements for certification as an Automotive Service Technician in Ontario.
Step 2. Assessment of Your Previous Training and Experience
The training consultant will assess your documents and compare your training and experience to that required in Ontario: If your documented experience is equivalent to that required of an apprentice in Ontario, you will be eligible to write the Certificate of Qualification exam without serving an apprenticeship. You will then complete an application for the Certificate of Qualification. If your documented experience is not equivalent to Ontario’s training requirements, you may have to get more training and work experience.
If required, you can enter into an apprenticeship to get the skills and on-the-job training you require to work in Ontario. This apprenticeship may be shorter than the apprenticeship for an inexperienced worker in the trade. During the apprenticeship, you will work as you learn and complete in-school training.
To get a position as an apprentice, you must apply directly to employers and find one to sponsor your apprenticeship. You can find employers by looking in the Yellow Pages (the telephone directory for businesses) or in local newspapers. You might also just walk into automotive service stations in your neighbourhood and ask about apprenticeship possibilities. Employers sometimes place job ads at government employment agencies. Employers will want to see a well-written r Jsum J and to hear what you can do for them.
You will then register your apprenticeship agreement with a Workplace Training Branch Apprenticeship office.
If you require training, consult the list of community colleges on the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities website and follow the links to Postsecondary Education, Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology.
Attestation of Competencies
In addition to providing documentation above, you will be asked to complete and sign an Attestation of Competencies. This document is an oath that you make, stating that you have all the competencies required for the trade. This Attestation of Competencies will be considered as proof that you are able to do the work of an Automotive Service Technician. A false attestation is a serious criminal offence.
Step 3. Application for the Certificate of Qualification
When you have met the requirements for certification, you will complete an application to write the Certificate of Qualification exam.
Step 4. Letter of Permission
When your experience is equivalent to the training standards in Ontario, you will be eligible to write the Certificate of Qualification exam. You will then complete an Application for the Certificate of Qualification. When you submit the application, you will receive a Letter of Permission that allows you to work for up to ninety days until you write the exam for the Certificate of Qualification. You must write the exam within this time. This letter is usually given to you during your first meeting with a training consultant, so you will be able to work right away.
Step 5. Exam Preparation
The Certificate of Qualification exam is based on the skills that Automotive Service Technicians need to succeed in the workplace. The content of the exam reflects both on-the-job and in-school training. This is why many workers who have not worked in Ontario find the exam difficult.
The best way to prepare for the exam is to make sure that you can perform all the skills described in Apprenticeship Training Standards – Automotive Service Technician. Study the competencies and be sure that you can explain the theory behind each task. Work experience is helpful before writing the exam, so it is a good idea to try to get a job as soon as you receive your Letter of Permission.
You can also study from the following textbooks that can be found at community college libraries and bookstores, in public libraries, and sometimes in general bookstores:
- Auto Mechanics Fundamentals by M. W. Stockel (distributed by General Publishing)
- Automotive Mechanics by W. H. Crouse (McGraw-Hill)
- Automotive Transmissions and Power Trains by W. H. Crouse and D. L. Anglin (McGraw-Hill)
Many community colleges offer pre-exam or exam preparation courses. These courses give applicants practice in writing the exams. They usually provide about sixty hours of training over several weekends and cost about $300.
Some community agencies may also offer special training courses for internationally trained Automotive Service Technicians. Contact the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI). (See the contact information at the end of this fact sheet.) OCASI can provide information about settlement agencies in your community.
Step 6. Certificate of Qualification Exam
You may write the Certificate of Qualification exam for Automotive Service Technicians at a Workplace Training Branch Apprenticeship office, once you have either completed an apprenticeship or shown (attested) that you have the competencies required for this trade. The exam is available year-round, usually by appointment. You can arrange a date to write the exam during your meeting with a training consultant, or you can call the Workplace Training Branch Apprenticeship office to make an appointment to write the exam within ninety days of your application. You must show photo ID on the day of the exam.
Description of the exam
The Certificate of Qualification exam is a written exam with multiple-choice questions. These questions test your practical knowledge of workplace procedures and tasks. You are allowed three hours to complete the exam.
If you have difficulty with English, you are allowed to bring a reader with you to the exam. Readers can be anyone whose English skills are strong; they may be relatives, friends, or interpreters from your community. Readers can translate the parts of the exam that you don’t understand, but they are not allowed to help you answer the questions. The exam is highly technical; make sure that you choose someone who knows English well, but does not have knowledge of the Automotive Service Technician trade. Readers must sign a statement that they don’t have any training or experience in the trade.
Dictionaries, pencils, erasers, and paper are available in the exam room. If you bring your own dictionary, you will be asked to submit it to the exam supervisor for inspection.
The pass mark for all examinations in Ontario is 70 per cent.
Rewriting failed exams
Your exam results will be mailed to you. The results sheet will detail the score as a percentage for each section of the exam, so if you fail, you will know which areas you still need to improve. If you fail an exam, you can rewrite it after fifteen days.
If you fail the exam twice, you will be required either to take a refresher course to upgrade your training or to get more work experience before you can try the exam again. There is a $100 fee every time you write the exam. You will be able to reapply for a Letter of Permission.
Step 7. Certificate of Qualification
If you pass the exam, your Certificate of Qualification will be mailed to you. You can get an official duplicate (copy) of the certificate from the Workplace Training Branch Apprenticeship office for a fee of $60.00. Automotive Service Technicians must renew their certificates once every three years. The renewal fee is $60.
Fees and costs(in Canadian dollars)
|Application for the Certificate of Qualification||no fee|
|Registration of an apprenticeship, if required||$40|
|Certificate of Qualification examination||$100|
|Rewriting failed exams (re-examination)||$100|
Labour Market Information
In Ontario, Automotive Service Technicians work for small, independent repair shops, garages and service stations, service departments at large car dealerships, and many other types of motor vehicle repair shops and service centres. Some shops offer generalized car repair services, and others offer specialized services, such as for brakes and transmissions. About 99 per cent of automotive service centres are independently owned. Non-union Automotive Service Technicians perform most of the work.
An experienced mechanic can earn between $20 and $30 per hour. Employment opportunities vary somewhat with the economy. When the economy is good, so are employment opportunities.
Automotive Service Technicians provide their own tools for work. The average investment in a tool kit is somewhere between $10,000 and $30,000. Employers see a well-stocked tool kit as a commitment to the trade.
For more information on labour market conditions for this trade, see Ontario Job Futures on the Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC) website on the Ontario Job Futures website. This information is also available in the Ontario Job Futures binder at public libraries and at HRDC Employment Resource Centres in your community.
Related Trades and Occupations
Automotive Service Technicians are able to work on all parts of vehicles (i.e., cars, motor homes, trailers, buses, and small trucks) that weigh less than 9,000 kilograms. While Automotive Service Technicians are often called mechanics, there are many different automotive trades that employ other kinds of mechanics.
For example, mechanics who work on truck-trailers (large trucks) that weigh more than 9,000 kilograms can be either truck and coach technicians or truck-trailer service technicians. Mechanics who work on these large trucks need a certificate (licence) to work in Ontario.
It is also possible to become certified in specialized areas of the automotive trade. Certification (licensing) is required for the following specialized automotive trades, but the training standards are different from those for Automotive Service Technicians:
- Alignment and Brakes Technician
- Automotive Accessory Technician
- Fuel and Electrical Systems Technician
- Transmission Technician
- Auto Body and Collision Damage Repairer
Certification is not required for the following automotive trade
- Motive Power Machinist
- Air-cooled Marine Engine Mechanic
- Agricultural Equipment Technician
- Heavy Duty Equipment Technician
- Powered Lift Truck Technician
For more information on these and other automotive trades, contact a MTCU apprenticeship office or visit the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities website and follow the links to apprenticeship. You can also get more information about these occupations at public libraries, at HRDC Employment Resource Centres, and from the Ontario Job Futures website - www.ontariojobfutures.net.
MTCU apprenticeship offices in Ontario
To order a copy of Apprenticeship Training Standards – Automotive Service Technician, to get more information about certification, or to make an appointment with a training consultant, contact the MTCU apprenticeship office in your community.
Hamilton Central Office
North Bay Office
Owen Sound Office
901 Lansdowne Street West
Sault Ste. Marie Office
St Catharines Office
Thunder Bay Office
Toronto Central Office
For More Information
For information on certification requirements and training in Ontario, contact:
- Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities - training hotline (no charge in Ontario): 1-800-387-5656; website: www.tcu.gov.on.ca
- the MTCU apprenticeship office in your community (see the addresses and fax and telephone numbers listed above)
For information on where to get help once you arrive in Ontario, contact:
For information on settling in Ontario, visit www.settlement.org.
For information about accessing professions and trades in Ontario, contact:
Government of Ontario
Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration
Global Experience Ontario (GEO)
Tel: 416-327-9694 or 1-866-670-4094
TTY: 416-327-9710 or 1-866–388-2262