Automotive service technicians and mechanics are tasked with inspecting, maintaining, and repairing cars and light trucks. While they generally work on traditional mechanical systems, such as engines and transmissions, today’s service techs must also be skilled in the growing number of electronic systems being built into modern vehicles. As newer vehicles house more complex systems, particularly with electric and self-driving vehicles, the demand for skilled service technicians is growing. Given this high demand, auto technicians and mechanics have the ability to settle down in a myriad of locations, but where exactly are the best opportunities for service techs?
Our study at AdvisorSmith ranked 388 U.S. cities to determine the most attractive cities for automotive technicians and mechanics to pursue their careers in. We list the top 50 cities for service techs below, and we also break down the top small, midsize, and large cities for service techs.
Our analysis found that many of the best cities for auto technicians and mechanics are small and midsize cities. Smaller cities have, on average, a more geographically spread out footprint than high-density cities, fueling higher demand for cars and more miles driven, meaning more job opportunities for auto technicians and mechanics. Coupled with lower costs of living, smaller cities won out in our study, with 9 of the top 10 and 43 of the top 50 cities having populations under 500,000.
Best Cities for Auto Technicians & Mechanics
1. Fairbanks, AK
Located in central Alaska, Fairbanks was the top city in our study of the best cities for auto technicians and mechanics. As the second largest city in Alaska, Fairbanks serves an important role as the transportation hub for the Interior region of Alaska, featuring extensive road, rail, and air connections to the rest of the state and beyond. Fairbanks is home to a number of military bases and government facilities, including Fort Wainwright and Eielson Air Force Base, which contribute significantly to the local economy. Tourism also plays an important role, as many visitors come to Fairbanks as part of cruise ship excursions in the summer or to see the northern lights during the winter.
As a central transportation hub of Alaska’s Interior, it’s no surprise that Fairbanks hosts 130% more jobs for service techs than the average American city. Auto techs and mechanics also earned an average salary of $61,520 in Fairbanks, which exceeds the national average by an incredible 41%.
2. Sierra Vista, AZ
Located in the southeastern part of the state, Sierra Vista serves as the main commercial, cultural, and recreational hub of Cochise County. Notably, Sierra Vista is home to Fort Huachuca, an active U.S. army post, which plays a critical role in the local economy. Nearly half of all jobs in Sierra Vista are in the government sector, with Fort Huachuca serving as the major employer in the city and contracts with the U.S. Army driving demand for technical and professional services.
Service technicians in Sierra Vista earned an average annual salary of $53,220, which is 22% above the national average. The city had a cost of living that was 9% below the national average and hosted 45% more jobs for auto technicians and mechanics than the average city.
3. Memphis, TN
Memphis was the #1 large city in our study for auto technicians and mechanics. Located along the Mississippi River and intersected by five major freight railroads and two interstate highways, Memphis’ strategic location plays a large role in its leading position as a transportation and logistics hub. Memphis is home to a number of multi-national and Fortune 500 companies, including FedEx, which maintains its global air hub at Memphis International Airport, International Paper, and AutoZone.
Memphis hosts 8% more jobs for auto technicians and mechanics on a per-capita basis compared with the U.S. average. Additionally, salaries for service techs in Memphis average $50,450, 15% above the national average, while the cost of living is 19% below the national average.
4. Homosassa Springs, FL
Situated on the western coast of Florida, north of Tampa and northwest of Orlando, Homosassa Springs is a small city well known for the Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. The city has an aging population, with much of the local economy relying on health care and social assistance jobs.
Homosassa Springs boasts 166% more jobs for auto technicians and mechanics compared with the average U.S. city. Homosassa Springs auto technicians and mechanics earn on average $38,390 and benefit from a low cost of living that is 9% below the national average.
5. Waterbury, CT
Waterbury is the 10th largest city in the New York Metropolitan Area, located just 33 miles southwest of Hartford and 77 miles northeast of New York CIty. The city is nicknamed “The Brass City,” which harks back to its industrial past as the the leading manufacturer of brassware in the 20th century. Today, Waterbury’s leading industries include health care and social assistance, manufacturing, and retail trade.
Waterbury auto technicians and mechanics earn an average salary of $50,640, exceeding the national average by 16%. The city also hosts an incredible 88% more jobs for auto technicians and mechanics on a per-capita basis compared with the national average.
Top Cities for Auto Technicians & Mechanics by City Size
Forty-three of the top 50 best cities for auto technicians and mechanics were small or midsize cities, but the small town atmosphere may not be ideal for everyone. In order to highlight this distinction in lifestyle preference, our study segments cities into different sizes based on population, listing the top 10 small (population under 150,000), midsize (population of 150,000-500,000), and large (greater than 500,000 population) cities for auto technicians and mechanics.
Top 50 Cities for Auto Technicians & Mechanics
Below, we list the top cities for auto technicians and mechanics. We include data on the total number of jobs, the number of jobs per capita, average annual salaries, and the cost of living.
|Rank||City||City Size||Average Annual Salary||Total Jobs||Location Quotient||Cost of Living|
|2||Sierra Vista, AZ||Small||$53,220||210||1.45||91|
|4||Homosassa Springs, FL||Small||$38,390||380||2.66||91|
|12||San Angelo, TX||Midsize||$43,000||300||1.46||85|
|16||Terre Haute, IN||Small||$41,180||400||1.34||80|
|20||St. Joseph, MO||Midsize||$45,540||270||1.11||85|
|24||Grand Junction, CO||Large||$49,240||390||1.43||100|
|30||St. Louis, MO||Midsize||$46,050||7710||1.26||91|
|31||Corpus Christi, TX||Small||$44,910||920||1.1||86|
|39||Wichita Falls, TX||Small||$39,430||280||1.11||77|
|40||College Station, TX||Small||$48,540||470||0.92||91|
|48||Kansas City, MO||Midsize||$46,060||5770||1.22||94|
|49||San Antonio, TX||Midsize||$45,970||4540||1||89|
|50||Idaho Falls, ID||Small||$45,960||300||1||89|
AdvisorSmith’s study examined three key variables in determining the best cities for auto technicians and mechanics to pursue their careers in.
1. Average annual salaries for auto technicians and mechanics
We considered the average annual salary earned by service technicians in each city in our study. The higher the average salary, the more highly we ranked a given metro area. The average salary for auto technicians and mechanics in our study was $43,730.
2. Density of jobs for auto technicians and mechanics in each city
Automotive service technicians and mechanics have a special set of skills that require post-secondary education or on-the-job training. Given this, we ranked cities that have a higher concentration of jobs for service techs relative to the general worker population as more desirable. This density is represented by the location quotient in the Bureau of Labor Statistics employment data.
In 2018, there were 648,050 auto technicians and mechanics employed in the United States. The BLS predicts that employment for auto technicians and mechanics will grow at a 6% pace over the 10-year period of 2016-2026, which is in line with the national job growth outlook.
3. Cost of living index for each city
We adjusted the salaries earned by auto technicians and mechanics in each city by a cost of living multiplier. The cost of living, including necessities such as rent, transportation, and groceries, varies by city, so it is important to normalize the salaries so that the cities can be compared fairly. Cities with more affordable lifestyles were ranked more highly in our study.
 Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook
 Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics
 Sperling’s Best Places Cost of Living Index