A Guide for Mechanics Who Want To Earn 6 Figures

Updated March 8, 2023

A hand catches tumbling dollars and coins.

An auto mechanic is responsible for repairing and maintaining a wide range of vehicles. If you're interested in pursuing this profession, learning about the different ways you can increase your income may help you reach a six-figure annual salary.

In this article, we discuss how auto mechanics can increase their learning potential by following several strategies.

What does an auto mechanic do?

Mechanics work on a wide range of vehicles such as cars, trucks, motorcycles and boats, with their main goals being to keep the respective vehicles working at optimal capacity and to repair any damages and malfunctions. Some specific tasks that mechanics typically perform are:

  • Performs tests to detect any vehicle malfunctions

  • Makes routine maintenance operations, such as changing oil and brake pads on automobiles

  • Repairs or replaces malfunctioning parts

  • Ensures that the vehicles they work on are safe to drive

  • Diagnoses mechanical issues

  • Upgrades vehicles by installing new and enhanced components

Related: Top 15 Interview Questions For an Auto Mechanic Interview (Plus 15 More)

Ways to maximize your income as a mechanic

Consider these ways to improve your chances of reaching a six-figure salary as a mechanic:

Gain experience

A key aspect of earning a six-figure salary as a mechanic is having advanced levels of experience. Besides helping you gain practical knowledge, gaining experience can also help you develop useful soft skills, like consistency, communication and teamwork. You can earn experience in this role by completing an apprenticeship or internship under the guidance of certified mechanics and then seeking entry-level mechanic roles. After a few years, you can start looking for more advanced roles in the field.

Related: How To Get a Mechanic Apprenticeship (Plus Benefits)

Complete your education

While having a high school degree or equivalent is the minimum educational requirement for working as a mechanic, continuing your education can help improve your chances of reaching a six-figure salary in the future. When in high school, focusing on subjects like mathematics and physics can give you theoretical knowledge that's likely to be useful later in your career. Also, technical education or auto mechanic courses are likely to help you develop your hard skills.

After earning your high school degree, you can further your education by pursuing an associate degree. These typically take two years to complete and are hosted by vocational schools or community colleges. If you're interested in starting your own vehicle repair business in the future, you can also consider earning a relevant bachelor's degree. Some specific degrees you can pursue to improve your chances of reaching a six-figure salary as a mechanic are:

  • Associate of applied science in automotive technology: This two-year associate degree is a mix of theoretical and practical courses and covers all basic concepts of automotive repair and maintenance. It's useful both for inexperienced mechanics, as it can help them develop the role's fundamentals, and for more experienced ones because it can help them qualify for better-paid roles.

  • Auto repair technician diploma: This program takes less time to complete than the Associate of Applied Science in Automotive Technology, usually up to a year. It's an appropriate way to learn the basic aspects of the role in a relatively short time.

  • Automotive high-performance technician diploma: This trade school program teaches students the fundamentals of maintaining and repairing high-performance engines, like those on sports vehicles and race cars. Since working in the auto racing or high-performance vehicle manufacturing industries is likely to generate a higher income than regular mechanic roles, pursuing this course can be an appropriate way of getting to a six-figure salary as a mechanic.

  • Alternative fuels technician diploma: This diploma program teaches mechanics about repairing and maintaining vehicles with alternative propulsion methods, such as hybrid and electric. Since the automotive industry is currently shifting towards clean energy, having this diploma can potentially make you more in demand in the future.

  • Bachelor of science in automotive technology or automotive technology management: Earning a bachelor's degree takes four years and prepares you for both the technical aspects of working as a mechanic and the business aspects of running a business in this field. Besides helping you if you decide to start your own business, earning this degree can also help you gain relevant supervisory roles.

Related: 8 Education Requirements for Mechanics

Earn your Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification

Earning a relevant mechanic certification is essential for advancing in this field, as it shows potential employers that you have the skills to be successful as a mechanic. The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence offers the ASE certification, which many employers consider to be the industry standard. The certification areas they cover are:

  • Engine repair

  • Transmission and transaxle

  • Drivetrain and axles

  • Steering and suspension

  • Braking systems

  • Electronic and electrical

  • Air conditioning and heating

  • Engine performance

  • Light-weight diesel engines

You can earn an ASE certificate in any of these categories. Completing all of them gives you the title of Master Technician, which improves your standing in the field and your chances of reaching a six-figure salary.

Related: 16 Types of ASE Mechanic Certifications To Pursue


Another way you can increase your chances of earning six figures as a mechanic is by specializing. This can refer to a specific type of vehicle, component or group of components or a single vehicle brand. Since mechanics is a complex field, earning experience in a specific aspect can help you improve your knowledge and performance, which can lead to better-paid roles. Some appropriate mechanic specializations, based on the type of vehicles and components they cover, are:

  • Automotive mechanic

  • Auto body technician

  • Brake and transmission technician

  • Small engine mechanic

  • Heavy equipment mechanic

  • Diesel mechanic

  • Marine mechanic

  • Aircraft mechanic

  • Race car mechanic

  • Auto glass mechanic

  • Tire mechanic

Related: Auto Mechanic vs. Diesel Mechanic: What They Do and How They Differ

Start your own mechanics-related business

Starting your own repair garage or any other type of related business can help you reach a six-figure annual income. If, after gaining enough education and experience as a mechanic, you discover a gap in the market, you can potentially fill that gap by starting and running your own company. Besides solid mechanic skills, successfully starting your own business in this field also usually requires strong business and interpersonal skills.

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