Auto Mechanic: Job Duties of a Professional Auto Mechanic

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an auto mechanic. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and certification to find out if this is the career for you.

Essential Information

Auto mechanics normally inspect, maintain or repair any of a vehicle's systems, from its body to engines and electrical or computer systems. Some employers only require a high school diploma and provide on-the-job training to mechanics, while others require the completion of a formal educational program that includes coursework and hands-on practice working with vehicles. Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification is commonly required after mechanics begin working.

Required Education On-the-job training and/or diploma, certificate or associate's degree related to automotive service technology
Other Requirements ASE certification
Projected Job Growth 9% from 2012-2022*
Median Salary (2013) $36,710 annually*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

General Job Requirements of an Auto Mechanic

The first task for an auto mechanic professional is to provide the customer with an estimate of the work and cost required to make a vehicle safe and operational without adding unnecessary procedures or inflating costs. Auto mechanics inspect, maintain and repair automobiles, including cars, SUVs and pickups. Generally, auto mechanics limit their work to automobiles that run on gasoline; diesel vehicles and heavy equipment are handled by diesel mechanics.

Auto mechanics may work for a general mechanic shop that deals with a large variety of vehicle problems and systems. Alternatively, specializations are available in areas such as body work, alternator repair and rebuilding engines, electrical systems or brakes.

Normal Job Duties

Routine inspection and maintenance includes such tasks as checking tire pressure, changing engine oil, checking and replacing spark plugs, wires and distributor caps or ensuring the reliability of the vehicle's brakes. Troubleshooting and repairs may include diagnosing and fixing problems with any part of a vehicle, from body work or painting to the vehicle's computer or electronics.

As automobile parts and systems have become increasingly complex, auto mechanics' jobs have begun to change more and more rapidly, and their job title has often been revised to 'automotive service technician.' Professional auto mechanics diagnose problems by using on-board diagnostics in a vehicle's computer or plug-in diagnostic systems, as well as through observation of sounds, smells and the behavior of the vehicle.

Other tools available to an auto mechanic include heavy equipment, such as lifts, air tools, lathes and mill work machines that refinish valve seats, along with special equipment to mount and dismount tires. They also work with hazardous solvents and a great assortment of hand tools.

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