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How to Become a Mechanic: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a mechanic. Research the education and career requirements, certification and experience required for starting a career in this field.

Should I Become a Mechanic?

Mechanics are skilled in repairing cars and trucks. Their job tasks usually include inspecting a vehicle's parts, evaluating its overall condition, diagnosing problems and making repairs. They also perform routine tune-ups and change the oil in vehicles. Mechanics often work with oily tools and parts and may have to remain in uncomfortable positions for extended periods of time.

Career Requirements

Education Level High school diploma or equivalent; postsecondary training preferred
Education Field Automotive technology
Certification Certification through ASE is highly preferred
Experience Two years of experience are required for certification
Key Skills Must be detail-oriented, have good manual dexterity and excellent customer service skills
Technical Skills Knowledge of and ability to handle current computer and electrical systems in vehicles
Salary (2014) $37,120 annually

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS); Monster.com job postings (September 2012); National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).

Step 1: Graduate From High School

A high school diploma is the minimum education necessary to work as a mechanic. Some high schools may offer shop classes that provide instruction about automotive technology and teach students how to work with vehicle electrical and electronic components.

Success Tip:

  • Look into automotive technology high schools. Some high schools offer training specifically in automotive technology. These specialized schools are designed to prepare students for entry-level positions in the field or to continue their education.

Step 2: Consider a Formal Training Program

While not required to work in the field, enrolling in an automotive technology certificate or associate's degree program may be beneficial for finding employment. Courses in these programs cover topics such as engine repair, steering, suspension, automotive brake systems, electrical systems, transmissions and climate control. Graduates of 2-year programs may be able to substitute their education for one year of experience when seeking employment.

Step 3: Gain Experience

Mechanics can work for automobile dealers, vehicle part sellers or private companies. Some employers may prefer to hire new graduates as assistant mechanics. This job position provides the opportunity to gain experience for certification by learning from an experienced mechanic.

Step 4: Obtain Certification

Although no certification is required to work as a mechanic, employers may prefer applicants certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). The ASE offers certification in eight automotive specialties, including engine repair, automatic transmission, brakes and electrical systems. Mechanics must usually pass exams to earn most certifications. These exams include 40-50 questions. Generally, renewal of certification is required every five years.

Success Tip:

  • Look into gaining master status. Passing all eight ASE certification specialty exams earns an individual ASE Master Technician status. This status may increase employment opportunities and potential salaries.

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