An auto mechanic is responsible for maintaining, servicing, and repairing a wide range of different vehicles.
They may find themselves working on cars, buses, or trucks.
If you love cars, have a knack for problem solving, and seem to be good at all things technical and mechanical, then you should consider a career as an auto mechanic.
Education Requirements to Become an Auto Mechanic
Most auto mechanics learn their trade on the job, however this isn’t the only pathway to become an auto mechanic.
First, you will need your high school diploma to get a job as a mechanic and this will help you when looking for an apprenticeship or entry level role.
Working in a garage or workshop, you’ll learn your trade first hand from experienced professionals.
While this is a good way to become an auto mechanic, there are often less positions than people looking to learn, so it can become competitive.
Bigger companies have more of these positions available, so check with these kinds of places for jobs.
Start looking a year before you finish school.
Some larger employers will have cut off dates quite early for the next year, so it’s important to be organized.
The second option is to complete some post-secondary education.
Employers prefer even their entry-level mechanics to have had some specialized education, so this is not a bad way to do things.
If you want to work as an auto mechanic, your certificate of Automotive Service Excellence, or ASE, is something you will want to aspire to.
This qualification will make you more valuable in the eyes of employees.
To get this certificate, you need to complete a minimum amount of education in automobile services, and you can do this at a community college or vocational college.
Some employers will allow you to take courses in-house.
After you have finished the prescribed course work, you’ll also need to sit an exam.
Auto mechanics with their ASE can be identified by a patch which they wear on their arm.
Not only will you be more valuable to your employer, but your clients will be aware of your experience and professionalism also.
Some high schools run programs which let students start learning their trade as a part of their curriculum also.
You can take a course in auto mechanics at a vocational or trade school and community colleges also run these kinds of courses.
You’ll be completing a mix of in class theory work, along with real world experience, which is a good grounding for when you start work.
A good idea at this point is to try and get some weekend work at a garage or repair shop.
This is a good way to get a bit of extra experience to put on your resume.
You will also get to meet industry contacts which could lead to a job later on.
Auto Mechanic Job Description
Most auto mechanics work in repair shops or garages.
Usually these are small to medium sized businesses.
Others may work for larger companies.
Here are some of the daily tasks you could be responsible for as a mechanic.
- Completing regular vehicle services
- Maintaining record books of services
- Troubleshooting to find out the source of problems
- Repairing broken down vehicles
- Changing oil and lubricants
- Communicating with clients and colleagues
- Keeping an inventory of tools and stock
Auto Mechanic Salary and Career Path
Most mechanics start in entry level roles where they have the opportunity to learn their trade.
From here they become sufficient to complete tasks on their own, and as time goes on, take on more complicated jobs.
Some auto mechanics move on to senior roles, may work in management, or become teachers.
Others will open up their own businesses, while some may move to similar industries.
Professional development is important, most auto mechanics will take courses to keep their knowledge and technique up to date.
According to BLS.gov, mechanics will make between $20,000 and $60,000 a year, depending on skills and experience.
Those that are self-employed have the potential to make more.
Auto mechanics receive a good income and secure employment.
If you are a mechanical thinker, enjoy working with machinery, and have a passion for cars, then a career as an auto mechanic is one that you may find challenging and rewarding.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does an auto mechanic do?
Auto mechanics inspect, diagnose and repair vehicles.
Some auto mechanics specialize in a particular area or type of vehicle; some diagnose and repair brake problems, others repair the air conditioning, while others specialize in transmission or front-end problems.
An automotive mechanic’s work includes identifying the problem by using special equipment, testing parts of the vehicle to make sure that they work properly, repairing and replacing worn parts and performing basic maintenance tasks, such as changing oil.
Auto mechanics use a variety of tools, including diagnostic software, power and hand tools.
As an auto mechanic, you will stand on your feet most of the day so you will need physical fitness.
Other skills an auto mechanic needs include attention to detail, patience, communication skills and a willingness to keep up with the latest technologies in the field.
How much does an auto mechanic make?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for automotive service technicians and mechanics was $40,710 as of May 2018.
Salaries in this field vary depending on the mechanic’s expertise, experience but also on the place of employment.
Some auto mechanics make less than $25,000 while others make more than $65,000 a year.
How much does it cost to become an auto mechanic?
Most employers prefer auto mechanics who have completed some post-secondary education and usually require mechanics to earn an industry certification after employment.
Many vocational and trade schools offer training programs that include both classroom instruction and hands-o practice; associate’s degree programs are also available at community colleges.
Costs vary depending on the type of program you choose.
A certificate program will cost you, on average, around $5,000-$5,500 while an associate’s degree can cost you anywhere between less than $10,000 and more than $25,000.
After gaining a few years of experience, automotive technicians can choose to become certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence.
What is the demand for auto mechanics?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for automotive service technicians and mechanics is expected to show little or no change in the following decade.
Auto mechanics will still be needed as the number of vehicles continues to grow but new technologies will limit the number of mechanics that will be hired in the future.
If you have work experience and you are comfortable with using new diagnosing technologies, your job prospects should be good.
Holding a certificate in your field may also improve your chances of getting a good job.
How long does it take to become an auto mechanic?
The answer to the above question depends on the educational path you choose to pursue.
Most programs offered by trade schools can be completed in just a few months while associate’s degree programs typically require around 2 years of training.
Those who work with refrigerants will also need a certificate in proper refrigerant handling from the U.S. Environment Protection Agency.
After gaining around 2 years of work experience you can choose to become certified in your field.
The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence offers credentials in 9 specialties, including bakes, light vehicle diesel engines, engine performance, heat and air conditioning repair, and manual drive train and axles.