Auto Mechanic Career Duties and Education Requirements

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

The auto mechanic has many duties, some of which include routine servicing for your car, maintaining its performance, fixing or replacing car parts, or even giving it a complete overhaul. Completing a postsecondary training program in automotive technology is strongly recommended, and it can get you an entry-level position or internship with an auto garage or dealership.

Essential Information

Auto mechanics inspect and repair automobiles and trucks. They also perform basic maintenance tasks, including tire rotations and oil changes. Most auto mechanics complete certificate or associate's degree programs that cover all aspects of maintenance and repair. While professional certification is not mandatory, it is common. Certification requires gaining experience and passing examinations in specific areas of automotive technology.

Required Education Certificate or associate's degree in automotive technology is most common
Other Requirements On-the-job training
Certification National certification is commonly required
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 5%
Median Salary (2015)* $37,850

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

Auto Mechanic Career Duties

Auto mechanics diagnose and repair mechanical issues with varying degrees of complexity in automobiles and trucks. They work on a variety of automobile parts, including automatic and manual transmissions, engines, electrical systems, brakes, fuel systems and belts. Most of today's automotive systems, including steering, transmission and braking systems, are controlled primarily by electronic components and computers. Therefore, auto mechanics should have a combination of traditional mechanic hand tool skills and backgrounds working with modern electronic technology.

Auto mechanics who work at large shops sometimes specialize in specific repairs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), job classifications include transmission technicians, tune-up technicians, automotive air-conditioning repairers, front-end mechanics and brake repairers. Auto mechanics are employed primarily by automotive repair shops and automobile dealerships. Additional employment settings may include tire stores, automotive part stores and vehicle equipment rental companies.

Education Requirements

Most employers require auto mechanics complete a formal training program at the postsecondary level. However, there are some high school programs that also prepare students for entry-level mechanic positions. High school programs offer training in the areas of collision repair and basic automotive technology.

Most certificate and associate degree programs in automotive technology are found at community colleges and vocational schools. Students prepare for a career in the auto industry by learning manual drive trains and axles, suspension and steering systems, automotive electrical systems, engine repair, automatic transmissions, manual transmissions, brake systems, engine performance analysis, automotive electricity and engine reconditioning. Automotive technology programs involve a tremendous amount of hands-on experience. Many students are able to secure internships at local service centers or car dealerships while in school.

Auto mechanic certification is not required, but it is very common among those who wish to remain competitive in the field. Offered through the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), certification requires two years of experience and passage of a written exam.

Auto mechanics must be willing to get their hands dirty and stand on their feet for long periods of time, so stamina is imperative along with diagnostic skills and scrutiny for detail. This field is very competitive, and earning a certificate or associate degree and becoming certified is highly advised.


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