Have you ever wondered what it takes to be a mechanic? A mechanic is generally someone who inspects, diagnoses, and repairs mechanical issues in various types of automobiles, including trucks, personal vehicles, or other vehicles. However, this is just one aspect of what it takes to be a mechanic. A mechanic must also be familiar with the various equipment, tools, and procedures used in an automotive garage to troubleshoot and repair vehicles. Because of the recent advancements in automotive technology, mechanics now must have a familiarity with the computer technology and software programs that are used in auto body repair shops, as well as the recent advances in technology that are responsible for the function of mechanical and electrical parts in newer vehicles. Below you will find some additional information to let you know if you have what it takes to be a mechanic.
What Does a Mechanic Do?
If someone’s vehicle is not functioning properly, they will usually take it to a mechanic to find out what is wrong. The owner of the vehicle will describe certain noticeable symptoms of the issue and then the mechanic must inspect the vehicle and be able to determine the source of the problem. Therefore, a car mechanic has to be familiar with the inner workings of various different kinds of cars and trucks, although some mechanics may specialize in vehicles made by a single manufacturer. Either way, a mechanic must be able to come up with a plan to fix the problem and communicate the plan to the customer before proceeding with any repairs. Therefore, communication with customers is another important part of what it takes to be a mechanic.
Along with fixing mechanical issues that arise in cars and trucks, a mechanic must be able to perform preventive maintenance such as an oil change or tire rotation. Many parts of a vehicle become worn down over time and a mechanic must be able to recognize that in certain parts during a general inspection to catch potential issues. Some mechanics specialize in general maintenance and repairs, while other mechanics may specialize in windshield replacement, engines, brakes, tires, onboard computers, or window tinting.
A Mechanic’s Job Prospects
A high school diploma is often the minimum education required for mechanics. Although, many employers require their mechanics to have completed a certificate or associate degree programs in automotive technology or a related field, generally offered by a technical school or community college. A mechanic could also earn a certification voluntarily to enhance their career options or job opportunities. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected job growth for automotive technicians and mechanics between 2018 and 2028 will actually be a decline of one percent, which is about the same growth other similar occupations will see, such as electricians, despite how important these jobs are. However, mechanics who have formal automotive training in computer systems technology and modern alternative fuel will see the best job prospects, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The median salary for a mechanic in 2019 was 42 thousand dollars. The lowest ten percent of mechanics earn less than 20 thousand dollars and the top ten percent made over 60 thousand dollars. There are a few different ways a mechanic’s income is calculated. Many mechanics are paid through an hourly rate while other mechanics are paid according to how much work they complete or on commission.
Job prospects will be best for a mechanic who continues their education throughout their career. A mechanic can seek additional training to specialize in a certain type of vehicle repair or maintenance, or seek other helpful skills such as welder training. As a mechanic gains experience and earns certifications from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, their chances of being promoted increases. These roles include ones with increased responsibility, including supervising the work of less experienced mechanics. If you are wondering what it takes to be a mechanic who owns their own auto repair or specialty shop, you will need very strong business skills in addition to experience and certification as a mechanic.
What Does It Take To Be A Mechanic?
If you are a mechanically-inclined person who is interested in breaking into the field, but is wondering what it takes to be a mechanic, you should know what kind of training to expect. Automotive technology training programs can be taken at various levels of education. If you are interested in becoming a mechanic, you have a few different options. You can take a vocational training program throughout high school or attend a community college or technical school after graduating high school.
It may also be beneficial to know about current garage door sales if you are interested in opening your own shop and will need to renovate the space to fit your needs. While focusing on getting your training done first is probably a good idea, keep in mind the options available to you once you make it as a mechanic.
A Vocational Program
A high school vocational program usually takes three to four years. In programs like these, you will learn to repair, inspect, and maintain engines and other automotive systems such as the heating and cooling components, exhaust, electrical, transmission, suspension, brakes, auto glass replacement, and the fueling systems. A high school vocational program usually provides students with hands-on experience and training. Students may even get the opportunity to work with actual customers and service their vehicles. Students who attend a vocational program graduate with the experience, training, and high school diploma necessary to begin their career as a mechanic.
The Automotive Youth Education Services is another program that is available to high school students in areas around the United States. This program also offers hands-on experience and training in automotive technology.
A Community College or Technical School
Community colleges and technical schools offer both certificate and associate degree programs in automotive technology. An associate degree program includes general education coursework in addition to automotive technology, while a certificate program focuses solely on automotive technology. Nevertheless, programs at both a community college and technical school will allow the student to study the multiple automotive systems in a vehicle and begin to diagnose and fix issues with them. These courses usually include some lectures and students will also be able to put their learning into practice by diagnosing and repairing problems with real vehicles.
Whether you graduate from a vocational school, community college, or technical school, an aspiring auto mechanic will usually work as a helper, assistant, or trainee under the direction of an experienced mechanic to continue their training on the job.
The total amount of time it takes a person to become a mechanic will vary depending on the training you pursue. Those who attend a vocational program in high school can begin working as a trainee immediately after graduation. For those who opt for a post-secondary automotive technology program at a community college or technical school, it will take one to two years before they finish their education and can begin working as a trainee. Once a mechanic is working on the job, it may take two to five years until they are proficient in the field.
What is the Best Route?
If you are a mechanically inclined yet inexperienced individual, you may be wondering what the best route is to become a mechanic. You may think that forgoing an automotive technology training program and finding work at an entry-level job as an apprentice is your best course of action. Both options may be viable, but automotive repair may prove to be difficult without any prior training. If an experienced mechanic decides to take you on as an apprentice, they may pay for your training and the fees involved in earning a certification. There are also many advantages to enrolling in an automotive technology program. A training program will provide you with the best foundation and allow you to understand the basic principles of automobile mechanics.
How Do I Get a Certification or License?
You may be surprised by what it takes to be a mechanic. In many states, automotive mechanics are required to have a certification or a license to practice. Acquiring a mechanic’s license usually takes passing a few certification exams. In some states, mechanics must pass a test for each type of vehicle they wish to work on. For instance, the state of Michigan requires mechanics to pass eight out of eleven certification exams offered by the state to become certified as a master mechanic.
Generally, a mechanic will also seek a few voluntary certifications from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence which offers certifications for mechanics based on several different mechanical specialties, such as collision repair, light repair, auto maintenance, alternate fuel, damage analysis, estimation, and advanced engine performance. With a collision repair certification, for instance, you could potentially work at a collision repair center. Collision repair accounts for a lot of work done by mechanics since the average driver will have an auto accident claim once every 18 years approximately. To become certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, a mechanic must have two years of experience working as a mechanic or formal training in automotive technology. If a mechanic meets these requirements, they will be permitted to take the certification exam. These certifications are an important part of what it takes to be a mechanic.
The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence also offers special certifications for students in vocational school, community college, or technical school. These certifications for students do not require any working experience, although students must still pass a certification test.
If a mechanic wants to work exclusively on cars made by a certain manufacturer, they can seek a certification directly from the manufacturer by completing a training program offered by the manufacturer. A manufacturer certification will make a mechanic a much more qualified and attractive candidate for a mechanic position at a car dealership that has used cars for sale and services cars made by that manufacturer.
You can learn more about what it takes to be a mechanic by looking into the licensing requirements in your state for mechanics. If you do not have any formal automotive technology training yet, you should start by looking into automotive technology training programs at local technical schools or community colleges. Speaking with mechanics in your area is also a great way to learn about getting the education and training required to excel in the field.
To summarize, these are the five steps to becoming a mechanic:
Step One: Graduate High School or complete a general educational development test. This is a requirement if you wish to enroll in a community college or technical school.
Step Two: Enroll in an automotive technology program. Vocational schools, community colleges, technical schools, and automobile manufacturers offer certificates and associate’s degrees in automotive service technology. These programs will provide hands-on automotive repair experience.
Step Three: Get a certificate. The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence offers certifications in eleven specialty areas of automotive mechanics, such as heating and air conditioning, engine restoration, brake systems, electrical structures, and steering.
Step Four: Employer Training. This step will usually last a few months. During employer training, a mechanic will work side by side with experts like trainee technicians, lubricant workers, and automotive helpers.
Step Five: Becoming a master mechanic. In some states, you can become certified as a master mechanic by passing eight out of eleven certification exams offered by the state.
How To Find a Job As a Mechanic
Community resources, online job boards, and inquiring directly with automotive repair shops and car dealerships are a few different ways you can find a job as a mechanic. Since many repair shops offer additional services such as emergency towing, you might be able to get your foot in the door by working outside of the garage. If you have completed an automotive technology training program, you will likely have some professional contacts in that area. You should use these contacts to inquire about job openings that might potentially be a fit for your skills or interests.
Do you have what it takes to be a mechanic? Whether you have attended vocational school, community college, or technical school, you will be able to get the experience and certifications required to be a successful mechanic. If you are a hardworking individual who is mechanically inclined, dedicated, intuitive, and works well with customers, you undoubtedly have what it takes to be a mechanic.