By Debbie Holden 27 Oct 2017 5 min read

Breakdown Engineer job description

Breakdown engineers respond to people who have broken down on the side of the road. Those needing help will call a recovery service and the recovery service will send out a breakdown engineer. You will then travel to the site of the breakdown, talk to the driver and examine the vehicle to diagnose the problem, and then fix it on location if you can. You may need to tow the vehicle to the nearest garage to make the repair.

You will be expected to work in all weather conditions and you may need to do some shifts during the night. You will usually need to have a clean driving license to work as a breakdown engineer and in some cases an HGV license.

If you are practical, enjoy a varied workload, and have an interest in the automotive industry, a career as a breakdown mechanic might be for you. Find out more in the article below.
Career prospects


What does a breakdown engineer do?

Day-to-day responsibilities might include:

  • Responding to callouts from stranded motorists who have problems with their vehicles.
  • Ensuring that the driver, passengers, and vehicles are all safe.
  • Speaking to the driver and examining the vehicle to diagnose the problem.
  • If possible, fixing the fault on the roadside.
  • If it isn’t possible to fix the problem on the roadside, the vehicle will need towing to a garage to carry out the repair.
  • Maintaining records for each job carried out.


What qualifications do you need to become a breakdown engineer?

You will need to hold a valid driving license for this job. Depending on the types of vehicles you will be dealing with, you may also need an LGV license too.

To qualify for this role, you can take on an apprenticeship. This will give you the theoretical knowledge and practical experience you need.

You could also qualify for this role with experience of working in a garage. There are several qualifications in vehicle maintenance that could help your prospects. For example, City & Guilds run courses on Vehicle Maintenance and Repair.


What skills do you need to become a breakdown engineer?

Communication skills: You will need to be able to communicate effectively with the customer in order to determine the fault with their vehicle. As a representative of the breakdown company, you will need to speak to the customer in a way that demonstrates excellent customer service.

Logical way of thinking: You will need to be able to approach problems logically in order to diagnose problems.

Remain calm under pressure: You may encounter some dangerous situations with vehicles broken down on the roadside. You will need to be able to remain calm and follow the appropriate safety procedures.

Hand-to-eye coordination: You will need a certain amount of dexterity in order to fix more delicate parts.

Computer literacy: Many problems may now be diagnosed via computer devices.


How much does a breakdown engineer earn?

Starting salary: £20,000 – £35,000

Experienced: £28,000 – £35,000

Senior: £40,000

These figures are intended as a guide and come from the National Careers Service.

The average salary recorded for breakdown engineers in our 2019 annual report is £27,833.33.

Take a look at the map below to find out what the average breakdown engineer salary is in your area. The figures come from 2020 InAutomotive data.


What are your career prospects as a breakdown engineer?

As you gain experienced, you may be given more complex jobs. You could also move into training new breakdown engineers or become a manager. The skills you have learned as a breakdown engineer will also prepare you for a job in a garage.