If you love cars and understanding the way they work, consider becoming a mechanic. Learning how to become a mechanic is perfect for people who love the inner workings of vehicles and making them run properly.
Mechanics work on all forms of machinery. Learn all about this career and how you can become in a mechanic with this guide.
What Is a Mechanic?
A mechanic, also referred to as a service technician, inspects, repairs, and monitors vehicles, machinery, and light trucks. Their work is varied and requires a lot of study and knowledge of how vehicles work.
What Does a Mechanic Do?
A mechanic works on light trucks, automobiles, and other forms of transportation. The work varies, but mechanics typically perform maintenance and repairs. Some mechanics specialize in certain areas, such as engines, brakes, tires, or electronics.
- Career Karma matches you with top tech bootcamps
- Get exclusive scholarships and prep courses
A mechanic pinpoints vehicle issues. This means doing a full inspection and running diagnostics. Proper repairs cannot be done unless a mechanic has a full understanding of what is wrong with the vehicle, which is why this is an important part of the job.
Mechanics also do routine maintenance work to make sure your vehicle runs smoothly. This means changing the oil, lubricating parts, etc. The point of this work is to help with vehicle functionality and ensure its longevity.
Repair or Replace Parts
Of course, a mechanic’s primary responsibility is to repair and replace parts. Mechanics do extensive repairs on engines, fix leaks, and anything else needed to get your vehicle up and running. They also find and install replacement parts for your vehicle if something breaks.
Essential Mechanic Skills
Physical Fitness and Health
Being a mechanic means a lot of hard work underneath vehicles, lifting heavy objects, and oftentimes working in a garage or outside in non-ideal conditions. A mechanic has to be physically fit and healthy enough to work on several vehicles throughout the day.
Knowledge of Vehicle Components
Vehicles are incredibly complex. Mechanics must learn how vehicle parts and electrical components work, and how to repair them. As new, more complex vehicles are released, mechanics have to be up to date on the latest in repair and maintenance services.
As a service technician, you must effectively communicate any issues with your customer’s vehicle, inform them of any damage, and explain to them exactly what needs to be done to repair it.
Problem Solving Skills
You’re going to come across a multitude of problems with the vehicles that come to your garage. Mechanics have to come up with the best solution for the problem, that costs both them and their customer the least amount of money.
Customer Service Skills
You’ll need skills in serving your customers, meeting and exceeding their expectations, and putting them at ease. Remember, they’re trusting you with their main mode of transportation.
Mechanic Salaries and Job Outlook
According to Salary.com, the average annual salary of an automotive mechanic is $39,925. The upper 10 percent of mechanics earn over $51,000 per year. People in senior mechanic positions can make upwards of $74,000 each year. Factors that impact a mechanic’s salary include education, experience, skills, and any additional certifications or qualifications they may have.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the job outlook from 2018 to 2028 for automotive service technicians is -1 percent, which means there is little to no change in demand. However, it’s also stated that job opportunities for those qualified are very good.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Mechanic?
There is no formal prerequisite to becoming a mechanic. Typically, mechanics earn a certificate or associate degree. These programs take between six months to two years to complete. They give you hands-on training in repairs, electronics, and operating computers.
Some people graduate high school and go straight into being a mechanic. These individuals have hands-on experience with vehicles and a strong understanding of how to perform repairs.
How to Become a Mechanic: A Step by Step Guide
Automotive mechanics can have a successful career without a formal education. However, there are still important steps to follow when becoming a mechanic. Below is a full step-by-step guide.
Step 1: Graduate from High School
The first step to becoming a mechanic is to graduate from high school and get your diploma or GED. Most mechanic positions require you to have this degree at a minimum before you’re able to work professionally in a garage.
While you’re in school, take courses in mathematics and any electronics classes that are available. These classes will give you valuable insight into some of the work you’ll do professionally.
Step 2: Complete a Vocational or Associate Degree Program
The next step is to learn all about the work of an automotive mechanic. You can do this through either a vocational program, certificate program, or by earning your associate degree. Certificate programs can take less than a year to complete, but associate degree programs take up to two years to finish.
Step 3: Receive Certification
If you haven’t already while you were in school, earn your certification from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). This organization offers certifications in eight specialties for mechanics. Choose the specialties you’d like to focus on and earn your certification in those fields.
Step 4: Gain Experience as an Assistant or Trainee
After you’ve learned how to become a mechanic through school, the next step is to gain experience. Even if you have no prior history working at a garage, you can work as a trainee, assistant, or helper. These are entry-level positions and they’ll help you get more familiar with mechanic work.
Step 5: Earn Your State License
Find out what the requirements are and earn your license in whatever state you live. This may require you to take and pass one or more exams. After you’re licensed, you can start working as a full-time service technician.
Should You Become a Mechanic?
The biggest hurdle for mechanics to overcome is gaining the knowledge needed to work on vehicles. If you have prior experience working with vehicles or you have a passion for automotive repair, then you should become a mechanic.
While job growth for this field is staying relatively the same, there is still a demand for mechanics. Look for areas that aren’t as saturated and choose a specialty that is in high demand for better career stability.
Technically no, you don’t need a license. However, without a certificate, you can only work when supervised by someone who is certified.
Yes. You can get experience through on-the-job training or by attending school.
Automotive technicians have the opportunity to become master mechanics. These people take on more management responsibilities, along with their mechanic work.
A technician is trained to work with computers and other equipment to run diagnostics on a vehicle. Mechanics are the ones who physically replace parts and perform maintenance duties.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.