Automobile Mechanic: Career Profile

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

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This article provides information on the education and licensing required to practice as an automotive mechanic or repair technician. There are high school and associate's degree programs available, but learning often occurs in a hands-on manner. Many employers require national certification, which requires education, experience and passing an exam.

Essential Information

Automotive mechanics service cars, light trucks and other vehicles in repair shops or dealerships, among other settings. While the baseline academic requirement for mechanics is a high school diploma, most employers prefer mechanics who hold a certificate or associate's degree in automotive technology. Employers also prefer mechanics who hold national certification, which requires work experience, education or a combination of the two, along with passing a competency exam. Certification is available in eight areas of automotive technology through the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence.

Required Education High school diploma; certificate or associate's degree in automotive technology preferred
Other Requirements Professional certification is recommended and sometimes required
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) -1% (automotive service technicians and mechanics)*
Mean Salary (2018) $43,730 (automotive service technicians and mechanics)*

Sources: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Career Profile for an Automobile Mechanic

Automobile mechanics repair and maintain automotive vehicles. Some mechanics work on all mechanical parts of a vehicle, while others specialize in an area, such as transmissions. Automobile mechanics may work for mechanic shops or automobile dealerships.

Training

Preparation for a career as an automobile mechanic may begin while in high school by enrolling in vocational courses like automotive repair. After completing high school, graduates may enroll in a certificate or associate's program in automotive technology at a community college or technical school. Introductory classes may explore topics including brake and exhaust systems. Additionally, because electrical systems play such a large part in automobile technology, courses may review the basic principles of electricity and wiring.

In addition to taking classes, students may take part in hands-on training working with automotive parts or systems, such as transmissions. Some programs may offer courses in the specialized fuel systems used in hybrid and electrical cars.

Certification

The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certifies automotive mechanics in specializations such as collision repair (www.ase.com). Mechanics must have at least two years of experience within an area before being eligible for certification. Mechanics who have completed specialized training, like a certificate program, may receive work experience credit to help fulfill this requirement.

Career and Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that automobile mechanics received mean annual wages of $43,730, as of May 2018 (www.bls.gov). The middle 50% of mechanics earned between $30,220 and $54,720 per year.

Due to the increasing average lifespan of cars and growth in the number of cars being driven, the BLS projected the demand for automotive mechanics to show little or no change at a 1% decline between 2018 and 2028. Those with specialized knowledge or training will have the best opportunities. For example, mechanics who have an excellent understanding of hybrid cars may be in higher demand than those who do not have specialized training.

In summary, a certificate or associate's degree program are typical ways to study to be an automobile mechanic. Although not required, ASE certification may improve job prospects. Jobs in this field are expected to grow about as fast as average through 2028, with average salaries in the $43,000s.

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