Automotive Mechanic: Education & Career Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an automotive mechanic. Get a quick view of the requirements - such as job duties, degree programs and certification - to determine if this is the right career for you.

Essential Information

Automotive mechanics are trained to service and repair cars and small trucks. Aspiring mechanics may start training for the trade during high school; if relevant high school classes aren't available, students may look to postsecondary education programs to learn the necessary skills. Certification, though voluntary, is standard in this field.

Required EducationHigh school diploma plus formal mechanic training
Certification OptionsNational Institute for Automotive Service Excellence certification is standard
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)*9%
Average Salary (2013)*$39,450

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Definition: Automotive Mechanics and Repair Technology

Automotive mechanics and repair technology involve the use of diagnostic software and mechanical skill to maintain, repair and modify automobiles and their various parts. The role of an automotive mechanic is to identify car troubles and fix them. Mechanics receive training in automobile parts, functions and repair tools.

Educational Requirements for Automotive Mechanics and Repairers

While some high schools may provide basic shop and mechanics courses, others have joined with Automotive Youth Educational Systems (AYES) to bring advanced instruction to the classroom. The AYES offers students technical courses on automotive parts and systems in conjunction with on-the-job training from local automotive dealers (www.ayes.org). Upon completion, students are ready to enter the workforce as entry-level automotive technicians.

Postsecondary Education

Students in high schools that don't offer vocational training may consider completing a 6-12 month certificate or 1-2 year associate's degree program in automotive repair or technology. The rapid advancement in technology demands that automotive technicians be able to use both mechanical and electronic technology to do their work. Postsecondary programs offer classes covering topics including air-conditioning parts installation and ignition systems repair. Classes are generally conducted in a repair shop setting allowing students to use equipment ranging from simple hand tools to more complicated diagnostic software.

Some associate degree programs may offer students the opportunity to become familiar with a specific manufacturer's parts. For example, students may be able to take courses on General Motors braking systems or Chrysler steering and suspension systems. Other programs may offer specializations in general collision repair that include classes on structural analysis, painting and refinishing.

Certification

Although not required for employment, automotive mechanics may look to the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) to earn credentials in a specific field of automotive service (www.ase.com). The ASE offers a number of automotive certifications ranging from damage analysis to diesel engine diagnosis. Eligibility for each certification requires at least two years of experience; however, postsecondary coursework may be substituted as credit. Once eligible, technicians must successfully complete an exam to earn the respective designation.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), automotive service technicians and mechanics earned an annual mean salary of $39,450 in 2013. Job opportunities were expected to expand by nine percent from 2012-2022, the BLS predicted.

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