People who want to be mechanics should be good at fixing engines and enjoy doing it. To have a successful career in the competitive car industry, it’s important to get educated and undergo thorough training. Skilled mechanics can address small issues early, and promote regular check-ups. This article covers what you should learn to become a mechanic, and the skills required.
What Does a Mechanic Do?
A mechanic knows how car parts work together and can use special software to find and fix problems. In the past, there were “shade tree mechanics” who fixed cars without formal training, but now it’s hard to find someone without proper training who can do good repairs. Mechanics also tell customers what’s wrong with their cars and how to fix it.
What to do to Become a Mechanic
To be a mechanic, you’ll need to learn a lot and get formal training to be good in the car world. Here’s what you should do:
Step 1: Do Your Homework
Being a mechanic is tough, and you need to keep learning about new technology. Before you decide to be a mechanic, here is what you’ll need to do:
- Read up: Read car magazines for regular people, like Car and Driver, and ones for technicians, like Auto Service Professional. Also, read car service manuals from start to finish to see if you like the technical stuff and can remember it.
- Practice: If you’ve always fixed cars, that’s great! If not, try fixing your car if you have one.
- Help out: Ask local repair shops if you can help out without formal education. You might start by doing detailing work—cleaning and washing cars. This way, you can get a feel for the job and ask questions from the pros.
2. Complete High School
Most employers prefer candidates with a high school diploma or an equivalent. This shows them that you have the basic knowledge in math, science, and reasoning that you’ll use on the job. In many states, you can take the GED tests in a few months, and it usually costs between $80 and $140.
3. Get Entry-Level Certified
The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) creates tests for car technicians to prove how good they are in different areas. The entry-level certification from ASE has eight tests, covering things like engine repair, brakes, electrical systems, and more. You don’t need experience to take this test. Whenever you feel ready, you can take it during or after your training. The ASE’s website has practice tests and checklists to help you prepare.
4. Complete an Apprenticeship or Internship
Some mechanics choose to do apprenticeships, but not everyone does. If you’re in an associate degree program, you’ll probably have to do an internship or some hands-on work for a few months.
Let’s say a big car dealership hires you as a new mechanic. You might have to work as an apprentice for around eight weeks before officially becoming an automotive technician.
5. Get a Job as a Mechanic
According to the BLS, about one-third of mechanics work at dealerships, and another third work at repair shops.
In either place, you’ll start with less complicated tasks, like changing oil and helping certified technicians. You’ll need one to two years of work experience before you can take the ASE certification exam.
6. Become a Certified Professional Technician
After two years of combined experience and education (either working for two years or finishing a one-year degree and one year of training), you can take the ASE test series to become a certified professional technician. Having the ASE label means you have the basic experience and knowledge needed for the job as an automotive technician.
7. Keep on Learning
Things change fast, especially with cars. If you’re a mechanic, you have to stay updated. Keep learning as you work by going to training sessions, attending conferences, being part of committees, and joining industry events to meet people.
What you will need
To become a mechanic, you typically need the following:
- Education and Training
- Hands-On Experience
- Specialized Training
- Good Problem-Solving Skills
- Physical Fitness
- Attention to Detail
- Basic Math Skills
- Continuous Learning
Remember, the specific requirements may vary based on the type of mechanic you want to become and the regulations in your region. Always check with local employers and educational institutions for the most accurate and up-to-date information.
How much does a mechanic earn?
Mechanics usually make between $33,000 and $58,000. On average, an automotive service technician’s salary is $46,760, according to the BLS.
How long does it take to become a mechanic?
How long it takes to become a car technician depends on the school you go to, the classes you take, and the specific job opportunities in the area where you want to work.
You can finish a certificate program in automotive technology in about a year. An associate degree takes around two years.
How much does it cost to become a mechanic?
Going to a postsecondary automotive program might cost between $5,000 and $12,000 per year. Depending on where you work, you might have to buy your tools, which can be a big investment costing thousands of dollars.
Are there online mechanic programs?
Yes, there are online programs to help you get ready for the certification exam. But it’s important to also get hands-on experience, whether through shop classes or apprenticeship programs.
Learning, practicing, and enjoying the process are the keys to being a mechanic. You can set yourself up for success as a mechanic by learning the necessary skills, gaining hands-on experience, and staying curious. Remember, it’s not just about fixing devices; it’s about having a passion for understanding how things work and enhancing their performance.