Mechanics perform a variety of tasks that involve inspecting, maintaining, and repairing vehicles. According to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), there were over 700,000 mechanics in the United States in 2020. Although most of these professionals dedicate their entire careers to this craft, many others opt to switch paths at some point.
Most mechanics changing careers remain within the automotive industry or work with mechanical systems. However, mechanics have transferable skills that can be used in different professions outside these fields. This means a career change for mechanics can happen more smoothly than you may think.
Career Change for Mechanics: Overview
Mechanics deal with vehicle repairs and maintenance. These professionals work in several sectors including dealerships and manufacturing industries, or as entrepreneurs or self-employed workers. Mechanics have knowledge and experience with automotive parts, accessories, and tire suppliers.
On average, mechanics and automotive technicians earn an annual wage of about $44,050. Because of the nature of their work, overtime is common, with many motor mechanics working over the weekends, evenings, and public holidays. Because of this, the job satisfaction for these professionals tends to be divided.
Nonetheless, the job outlook for automotive service technicians and mechanics is steady as BLS estimates little or no change in the demand for these professionals. This means that you are more likely to face stiff competition for limited positions as a mechanic joining this industry because of the stunted job growth rates.
What Can You Do with a Degree in Mechanical Engineering Besides Mechanics?
A degree in mechanical engineering covers a wide range of topics such as mechanical design, thermal sciences, aerospace, manufacturing, and materials. As a result, you can pursue a wide range of career options with this degree or mechanic experience, such as structural engineer, civil engineer, transport planner, CNC machinists, and model maker.
Common Second Careers for Mechanics
If you are looking into alternative careers for mechanics, know that you are not alone as thousands of technicians leave this career field. Besides, it’s often advisable to have side jobs as a mechanic to increase your earnings and protect you against job risks. Some common second jobs for mechanics include mechanical assembler, welder, truck driver, and teaching and sales.
The Best Alternative Careers for Mechanics in 2022
If you are looking for a challenging, rewarding, or fulfilling career outside mechanics, you’ll be pleased to know that automation technicians have many transferable skills. This means that you can pursue different career opportunities using your existing skills from your current position. Here are some jobs that come with a high annual salary for former mechanics.
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High-Paying Jobs for Former Mechanics
|Job||Average Salary||Transferable Mechanic Skills|
|Supervisor jobs||$72,632||Communication, attention to detail, planning, computer proficiency, leadership, and mechanical drawing skills|
|Technician supervisor||$67,327||Attention to detail, leadership, problem-solving, empathy, confidence, communication|
|Aircraft mechanic||$66,680||Physical strength, organizational skills, mechanical skills, dexterity, customer service skills, attention to detail|
|Diagnostic technicians||$51,404||Written and oral communication, mathematical skills, physical strength, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills|
|Entrepreneur (Auto Repair Shop Owner)||$50,690||Communication, problem-solving, knowledge of automobiles, customer service, leadership, and computer proficiency skills|
|College lecturer||$49,604||Expert communication skills, patience, leadership, planning and organization skills|
|Welder||$49,313||Hand-eye coordination, attention to detail, steady hands, teamwork, communication skills, stamina and endurance|
|Truck Driver||$47,130||Physical stamina, hand-eye coordination, attention to detail, communication skills, and problem-solving.|
|Maintenance inspector||$46,287||Attention to detail, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills.|
|Service Technician||$44,050||Physical strength, organizational skills, mechanical skills, dexterity, customer service skills, attention to detail|
You should consider a career path as a supervisor if you have managerial skills and experience handling teams. These professionals supervise the work of other employees and advise other mechanics on the selection of repair tools or maintenance procedures. You’ll need to have a thorough understanding of automotive maintenance and repair procedures.
Additionally, you’ll need to have excellent planning and inspection skills that enable you to allocate resources while supervising the work of automotive repair personnel. You won’t be needing advanced education for this role. However, you must have experience and extensive knowledge of automotive repairs and maintenance to increase your chances of finding work.
If you are looking to pursue a career in a different field, you should consider a technician supervisor role. Technician supervisors plan and assign and supervise the work of staff who handle a variety of technical engineering duties. This role is best suited for professionals with vast experience in administrative engineering work.
You need to have a working knowledge of technical engineering programs, engineering mathematics, and computer programs used in drafting. Most positions require job seekers to have more than six years of engineering experience coupled with two years of college coursework in civil engineering and drafting.
Aircraft mechanics are highly observant and detail-oriented professionals who inspect, repair, and maintain different aircraft. They perform scheduled maintenance and repairs to ensure that airplanes are in safe working conditions. Becoming an aircraft mechanic requires a certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), so you may want to look into training programs.
A diagnostic technician’s main job involves accurately determining the cause of problems in vehicles within a given time frame. They occasionally act as consultants for diagnostic work, repairs, and other related procedures. This role is ideal for an experienced automotive mechanic who has working knowledge of related equipment and diagnostic scan tools.
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One of the main reasons why you should consider this profession is because it has a more competitive salary than the average mechanic job. Also, you can pursue this career if you are looking for a different challenge within the same field of operation. You should know that these professionals work regularly over the weekends and occasionally during weekday evenings.
Entrepreneur (Auto Repair Shop Owner)
If you’ve had enough of working for others, you should consider owning your own auto repair shop. Experienced mechanics often have extensive knowledge of how to diagnose and repair vehicles and communicate with customers. For this reason, you should venture into the car repair industry as a shop owner.
The car repair industry is one of the few remaining industries that has not been replaced by online businesses. You could start from scratch or buy an existing garage. However, you need to have the right experience and knowledge of the business before starting an auto repair shop.
Although there are few colleges offering courses in mechanics and automotive repairs, it is possible to find a lecturer job to apply your skills and knowledge. You could also offer training to aspiring mechanics. Lecturers, teachers, and trainers all derive job satisfaction from sharing their knowledge with students who appreciate the value of education.
Your main job as a lecturer in this field involves teaching students about auto repairs, parts, installation, and maintenance. The education qualifications for this role depend on the level at which you train. However, an associate’s degree coupled with a professional certification is usually enough for most roles.
Welders perform a number of duties designed to assemble pieces of metal together. They use machinery that emits heat at high temperatures to melt different metals. Other duties of a welder include sourcing materials for different projects, examining finished welding projects to check the quality of the metals, and measuring and cutting materials to given specifications.
Truck drivers drive and operate trucks. They pick up goods and deliver them as instructed. They are also responsible for basic heavy vehicle maintenance. Part of your job as a truck driver involves driving long distances, securing packages for transportation, and keeping your trucks in good working order.
Maintenance inspectors run a series of tests to ensure proper quality standards. They test a wide variety of equipment including kitchen equipment, vehicle parts, cooling systems, and ventilation systems. They vary from other inspectors who inspect goods at manufacturing plants.
It can be reasonably easy to venture into this profession as a former mechanic because of the technical skills that these two disciplines share. Besides, there are few barriers to entry, and you can usually land this role with a high school diploma and some postsecondary training, even if you do not have considerable work experience or an industry certification.
Service technicians offer different services depending on their area of expertise. You could use your mechanic skills to diagnose problems and make car repairs. These professionals typically go to a client’s business, garage, or home to make repairs. As a former mechanic, you’ll likely work with vehicles, but you can consider working with appliances and computers.
How to Make a Career Change from Mechanics
A career change from mechanics is a serious change that requires a great deal of consideration and effort. Not only that, but the more drastic the career change, the more daunting and frustrating the process can become. For this reason, you should consider these top tips to ensure a successful career change.
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1. Evaluate Your Reasons for Changing Careers
There are many reasons why people choose to change careers. Such reasons usually include poor job satisfaction, unfavorable work conditions, poor benefits, and low salaries. Take time to fully understand why you need to change careers so that you can find a new path that can solve those problems.
2. Plan for a New Career
Switching careers can be challenging, but taking time to plan your next career moves can make the process significantly easier. Besides, planning can also help you avoid common pitfalls that could prove fatal to your career. For this reason, you should do more research to fully understand your options and talk to a career coach to help you plan your next moves.
3. Consider Training and Education Programs to Develop Your Skills
Different careers have different entry requirements. You should research further to understand the education and skills required to work in your new role. Even if you meet the minimum entry requirements you may still want to gain additional training or skills to set yourself up for career advancement.
4. Connect or Network With Others in Your Field of Choice
Professionals appreciate the importance of connections and high-value networks. Many employment opportunities are offered to job seekers on a referral basis. Attending events and conferences is an excellent way to learn more about your new field of work as you meet new professionals and make valuable connections.
5. Do not Overlook the Value of Job Experience
Most employers prefer working with professionals with work experience. Although you are vastly experienced in your former role, you should consider gaining some experience in your new role as well. Consider volunteering or applying for internship programs that offer on-the-job training.
Is It Time to Make a Mechanics Career Change?
Yes, if you feel like you’ve outgrown your current role as a mechanic and are ready for new challenges, this is the perfect time to make a career change. Make sure you are jumping into a new role for the right reasons, research your possibilities, and take stock of the transferable skills you’ve picked up during your current role.
Mechanics Career Change FAQ
Mechanics have a wide range of skills which enables them to pursue a variety of careers, including mechanical assemblers, service managers, technician supervisors, sales representatives, and consultants.
You can pursue a career as a vehicle inspector, auto electrician, car salesperson, quality testing engineer, and tire technician, just to mention a few. If you love cars, technology, and do-it-yourself projects, you’ll be pleased to know there are many careers in the automotive industry.
No, mechanics are not in demand as their job outlook doesn’t look promising. The US Bureau of Labor estimates that there will be little to no change in the job growth for mechanics and automotive service technicians. With that said, there are over 700,000 mechanics in the United States and the BLS estimates that this number will grow by about 2000 over the next decade.
Most mechanics make their way out of garages and auto shops as they get older. Part of their jobs includes carrying heavy equipment, which requires physical strength. Most move to a foreman position or a service manager role, while others venture into sales.
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