What Does IT Take to Be a Mechanic?

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

Essential Information

Mechanics work on automobiles, trucks and related transportation and material-moving vehicles. Some mechanics perform general maintenance and repairs, while others may specialize in tires, brakes, engines or on-board computers. While a high school diploma is the minimum education requirement for mechanics, many employers prefer to hire those who have completed certificate or associate's programs in automotive technology or related fields. Mechanics can earn voluntary certification to enhance job opportunities.

Required Education High school diploma or equivalent; postsecondary training is often preferred by employers
Other Requirements On-the-job training; voluntary certification can improve job prospects
Projected Job Growth* 9% between 2012 and 2022 (automotive service technicians and mechanics)
Median Salary (2013)* $36,710 (automotive service technicians and mechanics)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Mechanic Career Overview

Mechanics are expected to examine, troubleshoot, restore and maintain various types of automobiles, including personal vehicles, trucks and heavy equipment machinery. Mechanics must be knowledgeable about the various tools, equipment and procedures used in auto shops for troubleshooting and repairing vehicles.

As a result of the advances in automotive technology, mechanics must now be familiar with the computers and software programs that are used in auto shops and vehicles. The advancements in technology help operate the electrical and mechanical parts in the latest vehicles.

Five Steps to Become a Mechanic

Step 1: Complete a High School Education or GED

Potential mechanics first need to obtain a high school diploma or GED. These credentials are required to enroll in a certificate or degree program. The Automotive Youth Education Services (AYES) program is available to high school students in some areas around the country. In addition to a basic high school education, the program offers students academic and hands-on training in automotive technology.

Step 2: Enroll in a Vocational Education Program

Automobile manufacturers, vocational schools and community colleges have training programs that award associate degrees or certificates of completion in automotive service technology. Those studying to be mechanics should take courses in electronics, hands-on automotive repair, computers, math and English.

Step 3: Obtain a Certificate

Certification is required to be a mechanic. The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) is an organization that offers certification in eight specialty areas for auto mechanics, including engine restoration, heating and air-conditioning, electrical structures, brake systems and steering.

Step 4: Receive Employer Training

Employer training for mechanics typically lasts for a couple of months, and candidates must work with experts as lubricant workers, trainee technicians or automotive helpers. Individuals must learn to work independently and as part of a team.

Step 5: Become a Master Mechanic

While it takes only one certification to become a mechanic, multiple certifications offer more advantages and opportunities. One can become a master mechanic by being certified in all eight automotive specialty areas.

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