Automotive Service Technician Red Seal Occupational Standard (RSOS)

The Canadian Council of Directors of Apprenticeship (CCDA) recognizes this Red Seal Occupational Standard (RSOS) as the Red Seal standard for the Automotive Service Technician trade.

Red Seal Occupational Standard Series

Disponible en français sous le titre : Mécanicien/mécanicienne de véhicules automobiles

NOC: 7321

Designation Year: 1959

RSOS Products for Download

The Automotive Service Technician Red Seal Occupational Standard is developed by Canadian trade representatives. It collects information about the trade as it is practiced across Canada.

This RSOS information is combined in several ways to generate several RSOS Products, each these is based on information contained in the complete RSOS, and is geared to user needs:



Red Seal Occupational Standard - Automotive Service Technician

A complete description of all trade activities, skills and knowledge. The Standard defines the trade by collecting and organizing elements together.

Trade Profile - Automotive Service Technician

A quick snapshot of all trade activities in the standard. It can be used to self-assess experience. It can be used to introduce a concise summary of all trade activities to those wanting to learn about the trade. It can also be used for gap analysis.

Curriculum Outline - Automotive Service Technician

Organizes the Knowledge elements of the standard and provides recommendations for training levels. These are meant to assist in developing and delivering technical training curricula.

Red Seal Exam Self-Assessment Guide – Automotive Service Technician (PDF, 577 KB) Use this self-assessment tool to rate your own understanding and experience with the tasks of the trade that are on the Red Seal examination.

General Information

Description of the Automotive Service Technician Trade

Automotive Service Technician is this trade’s official Red Seal occupational title approved by the CCDA. This standard covers tasks performed by Automotive Service Technicians whose occupational title has been identified by some provinces and territories of Canada under the following names:














Automotive Service Technician

x x x x x x x x x x x x x

Automotive service technicians possess the full range of knowledge and abilities required to perform preventative maintenance, diagnose problems and repair vehicle systems including engines, vehicle management, hybrids, steering, braking, tires, wheels, drivetrains, suspension, electrical, electronics, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), restraints, trim and accessories of automotive vehicles and light trucks.

Automotive service technicians may be employed by automotive repair shops, dealerships, automotive specialty repair shops, large organizations that may own a fleet of vehicles and motor vehicle body repair companies.

While the scope of the automotive service technician trade includes many aspects of vehicle service and repair, an increasing number of technicians specialize in specific areas of automotive vehicle repair due to the complexity of today’s motor vehicle systems.

Technicians usually work indoors and can expect a work environment that includes noise, fumes, odours, hazardous compounds, drafts, vibrations, and confined spaces. The work often requires considerable standing, bending, crawling, lifting, pulling and reaching.

Some important attributes of automotive service technicians are: good hand-eye coordination, mechanical aptitude, time management skills, logical thinking and decision making skills, excellent communication skills, computer skills and the ability to continue learning as technology advances. It is also imperative to have a valid driver’s licence.

With additional training, experienced automotive service technicians may advance to shop supervisor or service manager positions. Also technicians can transfer their skills and knowledge to related occupations such as automotive instructor, truck and transport mechanic, agricultural equipment technician or heavy duty equipment technician. Some technicians may open their own garage or automotive specialty shop.

Essential Skills Summary

Essential skills are needed for work, learning and life. They provide the foundation for learning all other skills and enable people to evolve with their jobs and adapt to workplace change.

Through extensive research, the Government of Canada and other national and international agencies have identified and validated nine essential skills. These skills are used in nearly every occupation and throughout daily life in different ways.

A series of CCDA-endorsed tools have been developed to support apprentices in their training and to be better prepared for a career in the trades. The tools can be used independently or with the assistance of a tradesperson, trainer, employer, teacher or mentor to:

  • understand how essential skills are used in the trades;
  • learn about individual essential skills strengths and areas for improvement; and
  • improve essential skills and increase success in an apprenticeship program.

Tools are available online or for order at:

The application of these skills may be described throughout this document within the competency statements which support each subtask of the trade. The following are summaries of the requirements in each of the essential skills, taken from the essential skills profile.

Automotive service technicians must read and comprehend a variety of materials including repair manuals, manufacturers’ bulletins and safety documents. They refer to government regulations, vehicle inspection procedures, hazardous material handling and disposal and safety requirements of vehicles.

Automotive service technicians interpret technical drawings and flowcharts. They locate data such as classifications, product and material specifications, identification numbers, quantities and costs. Automotive service technicians often use specification tables. They scan a variety of manufacturers’ labels for part numbers, serial numbers, sizes, colours and other information and adhere to hazard and safety icons.

Automotive service technicians complete workplace documents such as written explanations to the client, work orders, inspection reports and incident reports.

Automotive service technicians gather information from different sources about vehicle faults and needed repairs, explain the results of inspections and repairs, and discuss maintenance procedures. They exchange technical repair and troubleshooting information with others such as service managers, apprentices, co-workers, colleagues and suppliers.

Automotive service technicians take a variety of measurements using digital and analog equipment. They estimate the amount of time required to complete repairs. Automotive service technicians compare measurements of energy, dimension, speed, horsepower, temperature and torque to specifications. They analyze pressure, power, torque, compression and electrical readings to assess vehicle performance and troubleshoot faults.

Automotive service technicians use thinking skills and visual analysis to diagnose and repair problems. They evaluate the severity of vehicle defects and deficiencies and the quality of repairs. Automotive service technicians decide the most efficient course of action to complete a job.

Most automotive service technicians work independently on jobs outlined in work orders. They may assist others with jobs that require two people or are within their specific area of expertise. They collaborate effectively with colleagues including salespersons, partspersons and management to resolve concerns, situations and problems.

Automotive service technicians use computerized scanning equipment, onboard vehicle diagnostics and hand-held diagnostic tools to gain operational information about vehicles. They access the internet and databases to retrieve repair information. Automotive service technicians use digital technology to exchange information with other technicians, service managers, colleagues in other locations and manufacturer support specialists. Keyboarding and basic computer skills are an asset.

Constant change in the industry makes it vital for automotive service technicians to stay current with the latest technology. They learn on the job, in organized information activities and in work discussion groups. Their training is provided by vehicle manufacturers, parts suppliers, employers and associations. They also advance skills by reading work-related magazines, periodicals and automotive websites.

Trends in the Automotive Service Technician Trade

There is a push from consumers and governments towards lowering emissions and improving fuel economy. Maintenance service requirements, schedules, history and reminders are becoming more important. Vehicle components are being built with lighter and stronger materials. More complex and powerful vehicle management systems are being used.

Hybrids and electric vehicles are becoming more popular. More efficient gas and cleaner diesel fueled vehicles are becoming the norm. The need for enhanced training continues in the industry.

Vehicle communication networks that integrate multiple systems such as safety, suspension, steering and braking are becoming standard. A well-developed understanding of a range of technologies is required. This includes audio system and vehicle monitoring through satellite communications, new styles of automated braking systems [collision monitoring braking systems (CMB), adaptive cruise control], lane changing and parking assistance (blind spot detection, backup cameras), dual clutch transmission (DCT), complex communication networks and gasoline direct injection (GDI). Technicians must become aware of these new systems.

As a result of the introduction of a range of sophisticated technologies, there is a movement towards specialization in the trade. On-line learning is readily available for technicians and is being used for their training and professional development. The Internet is also frequently used as an on-the-job resource for research and information sharing.

There has been a greater emphasis on environmentally-friendly and less hazardous products with better recycling, disposal and handling procedures. Technicians must be conscious of the detrimental effects of hazardous materials on workers and the environment as well as being informed on the relevant regulations.

There is a greater trend towards component replacement rather than repair. Technicians must be aware of the quality and compatibility of replacement or rebuilt components compared to the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) standards. More vehicle options are resulting in more customization of the vehicle based on customer preferences. It is important to listen to customers carefully before trying to repair an issue that may be a characteristic of a vehicle. Reviewing safety protocols of a system before working on it is paramount.

Industry Expected Performance

All tasks must be performed according to the applicable jurisdictional regulations and standards. All health and safety standards must be respected and observed. Work should be done efficiently and at a high quality without material waste or environmental damage. All requirements of the manufacturer specifications must be met. Automotive service technicians should work professionally and strive to meet or exceed client expectations. As they progress in their career there is an expectation they continue to upgrade their skills and knowledge to keep pace with industry and promote continuous learning in their trade including mentoring of apprentices. At a journeyperson level of performance, all tasks must be done with minimal direction and supervision

Language Requirements

It is expected that journeypersons are able to understand and communicate in either English or French, which are Canada’s official languages. English or French are the common languages of business as well as languages of instruction in apprenticeship programs.


The CCDA and ESDC wish to express sincere appreciation for the contribution of the many tradespersons, industrial establishments, professional associations, labour organizations, provincial and territorial government departments and agencies, and all others who contributed to this publication.

Acknowledgement is extended by ESDC and the CCDA to the Automotive Industries Association of Canada, who provided advice on the development of the standard.

Special thanks are offered to the following representatives who contributed greatly to the original draft of the standard and provided expert advice throughout its development:

  • Ryan Cunningham - Saskatchewan
  • Charlie Druken - Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Stefan Engelhard - Manitoba
  • Bob Ford - Prince Edward Island
  • Bob Forward - Saskatchewan
  • Alain Gauthier - Quebec
  • Rudy Graff - Automotive Industries Association of Canada
  • Donald Greer - New Brunswick
  • Jeff Hoff - British Columbia
  • Russ Hunter - British Columbia
  • Bernard Jurcina - Nova Scotia
  • John Kamphuis - Prince Edward Island
  • Daniel Klippenstein - Manitoba
  • John Lundrigan - Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Randy McCoy - New Brunswick
  • Jason McDougall - Alberta
  • Greg Pilecki - Ontario
  • Joe Piper - Ontario
  • Martin Restoule - Ontario
  • Jeff Roberts - Alberta
  • David Rose - Nova Scotia
  • Shaughn Thompson - New Brunswick
  • Patric Vachon - Quebec
  • Robert M. Worobec - Saskatchewan

This standard was prepared by the Apprenticeship and Regulated Occupations Directorate of ESDC. The coordinating, facilitating and processing of this analysis were undertaken by employees of the standards development team of the Trades and Apprenticeship Division. The host jurisdiction of Ontario also participated in the development of this standard.