If you are good with your hands, a career as a certified mechanic may be for you. Mechanics work in fields such as automotive, aircraft, small engine and diesel service. Certification is available for each of these specialties.
Certified mechanics are technically skilled professionals with knowledge and expertise of machinery. Mechanics may work on automobiles, aircraft, watercraft, or small engines. Details about this career, such as job outlook, median salary and education requirements, vary by sub-field. Certification for mechanics is available through professional organizations, such as the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).
|Career Titles||Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics||Aircraft and Avionics Equipment mechanics and Technicians||Small Engine Mechanics||Diesel Service Technicians and Mechanics|
|Required Education||High school diploma or GED and on-the-job training; most employers prefer the completion of a formal training program||Completion of an FAA-approved Aviation Maintenance Technician program||High school diploma or GED and on-the-job training; employers may prefer completion of a formal training program||High school diploma or GED and on-the-job training; employers may prefer completion of a formal training program|
|Certification and Licensing||Certification by the the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) is standard for many auto service techs; licensing required to work with some materials||Certifications available, though not legally mandatory, through the FAA||Voluntary certification available through the Equipment & Engine Training Council||Voluntary certification by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence is common; a commercial driver's license may be required|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||5%||1%||4%||12%|
|Median Salary (May 2015)*||$37,850||$58,370||$32,710 for outdoor power equipment and other small engine mechanics; $34,220 for motorcycle mechanics||$44,520|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics
Though it is possible to work as an automotive mechanic with no more than a high school diploma or its equivalent, in recent years, the completion of a formal training program in the field has become overwhelmingly common as a job requirement. Certificate and associate's degree programs in automotive service technology are available and often coincide with additional job requirements, such as licensing to handle refrigerants or the opportunity to acquire voluntary certification by ASE. Mechanics may complete tests for varying skills in auto technology; with experience and successful completion of enough certification exams, mechanics may become Master Mechanics.
Aircraft and Avionics Equipment Mechanics and Technicians
In order to work on airplanes and other types of aircraft, individuals must complete a training program approved by the FAA. It is possible to test out of a training program by successfully passing FAA-administered exams, but this is uncommon. Many aircraft mechanics hold associate's degrees. Specific certifications and authorizations are required to work independently on aircraft, per the FAA; those without such credentials will work in teams and under the supervision of technicians and mechanics with more experience and the necessary certifications.
Small Engine Mechanics
Small engine mechanics work on varying types of engines, including those found in motorcycles, boats, and some types of equipment (like riding lawn mowers). Most small engine mechanics enter into the field with a basic understanding of small motors and are trained on the job. Such mechanics often specialize in one sub-field, such as boats or motorcycles. Certificate and associate's degree programs in small engine repair are available. Certifications are not required by this career, but voluntary acquisition of supplemental credentials may assist in acquiring jobs or competing for higher wages.
Diesel Service Technicians and Mechanics
Like other types of mechanics, diesel service techs may learn on the job, although completion of a training program is more common in recent years. Certificates or associate's degrees in diesel engine work may be offered by nearby vocational or community colleges. Some programs offer the opportunity of apprenticeships or journeyworker, before graduates enter the realm of professional diesel technology. Certifications are voluntary, but may provide advantages in securing work; they are offered by ASE and require experience in addition to knowledge of mechanics.
A mechanic's specific tasks depends on specialty. Certified automotive professionals, for example, might rotate tires, rebuild carburetors and flush radiators. Mechanics with experience and training related to farm equipment can work on combines, tractors and plows. Performing regular maintenance and safety checks are routine duties for mechanics working on airplanes, ensuring an airworthy craft. Mechanics with sufficient knowledge of specialty machinery can work in fields such as petroleum exploration, power plants or manufacturing.
Mechanic positions usually require only a high school diploma, but many require specialized training and certification. Training and certification requirements vary by type of mechanic. Check on the requirements in your specific field.