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How to Become a Master Mechanic: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a master mechanic. Research the education and career requirements, certification, and experience required for starting a career as a master mechanic. View article »

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Video Transcript

Should I Become a Master Mechanic?

Master mechanics diagnose mechanical problems in cars, trucks and other types of vehicles. When an owner brings in their vehicle, master mechanics will ask questions about the problems that are occurring and runs tests to determine if anything is wrong. They also perform tune-ups as needed. They are knowledgeable about all the major parts of a car, including the brakes, transmissions, electrical components, or computer systems. Working in noisy areas, in uncomfortable positions, with oily parts and tools may be common aspects of the job.

Career Requirements

Education Level High school diploma or equivalent
Certification Voluntary ASE certification beneficial; licensing is required by the Environmental Protection Agency for individuals handling refrigerants
Experience Some experience preferred
Key Skills Solid customer service skills; dexterity to repair automotive parts; familiarity with automotive computer systems
Salary $52,826 (2016 median for Master Mechanic certified technicians)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

While only a high school diploma is required to work as a general mechanic, certification through the National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) is required to earn the master mechanic designation. In addition, licensing is required by the Environmental Protection Agency for individuals handling refrigerants.

Master mechanics are expected to have solid customer service skills, the dexterity to repair automotive parts, and familiarity with the computer systems found in cars. According to PayScale.com, median annual salary for automotive technicians with ASE master mechanic certification was $52,826 in 2016.

Steps to Become a Master Mechanic

Step 1: Earn a High School Diploma

Earning a high school diploma is the first step to becoming a master mechanic. While aspiring mechanics can begin gaining automotive repair skills by taking elective courses in shop or electronics classes, some high schools may feature an automotive technology program. Taking courses in mathematics, computers, and English may also be beneficial for a future career as a mechanic.

Step 2: Gain Experience

According to the ASE, applicants need to have at least two years of experience working as a mechanic before obtaining certification. New mechanics in the field may need to start in a training position and learn under the supervision of an experienced mechanic. Others may choose to participate in an apprenticeship program, which will combine classroom work with on-the-job training. As new mechanics gain more skills in the field, they will be permitted to perform work on their own.

Step 3: Consider Post-Secondary Education in Automotive Technology

Certificate and associate's degree programs in automotive technology are also available and may be beneficial for prospective mechanics. These programs will provide additional education and training in the automotive technology field. Graduating from a formal training program may be substituted for some of the required experience.

Step 4: Earn Master Mechanic Certification

In order to earn master mechanic certification from the ASE, mechanics need to pass eight examinations. These examinations cover specialties in:

  • Engine repair
  • Automatic transmission
  • Manual drive train and axles
  • Suspension and steering
  • Brakes
  • Electrical/electronic systems
  • Heating and air conditioning
  • Engine performance

The exams feature 40-50 multiple choice questions, and each require a separate registration and fee. Certification for each specialty expires after five years, and each exam must be retaken for renewal.

Master mechanics diagnose mechanical problems in motor vehicles. They have certification and professional knowledge of vehicular computer, electrical, and mechanical systems, and they earn a median annual salary of $52,826.

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