What Does An Auto Mechanic Do?
Auto mechanics have a lot of opportunities to take their love for cars and turn it into a lifetime hobby that pays! Whether you prefer the thrill of working on race cars or the traditional shop or dealership car mechanic, this is a field that can bring a great salary and potential for advancement.
As an auto mechanic you will be responsible for working on a variety of different parts of a car. From basic maintenance to engine repair, auto mechanics have very important jobs since they essentially are responsible for safety of drivers on the road.
Some typical day to day activities might include:
- Safety checks to make sure all components are working properly
- Oil changes, tire rotations and other standard maintenance items
- Talk to customers about the issues they are having so you can better diagnose
- Run computerized diagnostics
- Keep logs and information about the work that was done
These are more common duties – but you may have to jump in on other activities as well when needed.
Becoming an auto mechanic can also lead to other mechanic prospects too! If you learn you love the mechanics of a car, you might want to consider becoming a diesel mechanic or if you are a boat lover – marine mechanic is another great option!
Skills You Need To Be A Good Auto Mechanic
Have a love of cars is only a part of the bigger picture to be successful in this career!
Below are some of the skills and personality traits that will typically make someone more successful in this career path and make you more interesting to potential employers.
While some mechanics have no interaction with customers – many do, so it is essential to make sure you have the patience and communication skills needed to help a customer. You may need to help them diagnose their issues and explain in detail what you need to do to fix the problem! You also need to be able to communicate with your co-workers too.
Definitely not a job for the weak! Having some strength will go far with this job. From turning a wrench on very tight nuts and bolts to lifting big parts you will get a workout on most days.
Sometimes finding where the problems are is not as easy as you may think. Having a good ability to analyze data as we all as cause and effect will be critical to helping to diagnose and troubleshoot issues a car is having.
Coordination & Dexterity
Fine motor skills and coordination are a must – especially when dealing with those small parts that are often found in cars.
How To Become An Auto Mechanic
Becoming an auto mechanic requires some skills and training to land the best job. Below we will cover the required education and training as well as estimated costs to get started working on cars for a living.
Don’t love school? Thankfully being an auto mechanic has no formal requirements other than a high school diploma or GED!
Below are the typical recommended steps to becoming a mechanic.
- Complete High School or GED (required)
- Complete a mechanics certification program
- Complete an apprenticeship
- Become ASE certified
While there is no expectation that you need further education that does not mean you should not invest in your future by taking some additional classes so that you can be more marketable and earn more money! It will be much easier to land a great job if you have a certificate from an auto mechanic program or even better a 2 year degree from a community college.
High School Students
If you are a current high school student then we would recommend you take computer and math classes – and if your school offers automotive shop then that would be a great asset as well. Once you graduate high school you can consider some of the other next steps below.
Auto Mechanic Certification
Definitely recommended and will make it much easier to find a job. You will need a high school diploma or GED to attend a certification program, so be sure you get those first.
Most certification programs to be able to work as a car mechanic will include a mix of classroom and hands-on training. You will learn the basics on how to repair and maintain cars and will learn to use a variety of tools and computer technologies.
Associate’s Degree in Auto Mechanics
An associate’s degree is not required in most cases but some dealerships and manufacturers do prefer it. These types of classes are usually offered at a community college or in specific schools that focus on these programs. Most associate degree programs take about 2 years to complete but you will come out with more experience than those that only have a certification which can bring much more opportunity for you.
You will need a GED or high school diploma to enroll.
You will take a variety of classes that can include things like steerings systems, brake systems, manual transmission as well as some more common classes like math and possibly engineering or computers. All of these play together to make you a stronger candidate to future employers.
Certifications & Licenses
Below are some resources to help you get started in the automotive field!
Automotive Service Excellence (ASE)
ASE has been around since 1972 and is the leading agency that focuses on improving the vehicle repair and service industry. This includes the certification programs they offer to students like you! They also offer their ASE Education Foundation which helps students by developing career-readiness educational programs and building local partnerships to offer more opportunities to students.
Average Salary For An Auto Mechanic.
The average median salary for a car technician was $42,090 as of May 2019.
Median means that half of the workers in the industry earned more and half earned less. This range is largely based on a few factors:
Location of where you work – a mechanic in NY may make a lot more than a mechanic in KY doing the same job.
Job Outlook For Auto Mechanics
Growth/Decline Percentage: 4% decline from 2019 to 2029*
General Outlook: Average
The general outlook for auto mechanics is on the decline but by a minimal amount. Although it may seem like there are so many more cars on the road – most of the newer cars have advanced features that require much less general maintenance and repairs which will affect the industry. There is also the growth of electric vehicles as well which will affect long term career growth.
This does not mean you should not consider this field as an option! If you love cars and have exceptional personal and technical skills your future could still be very bright in the industry.
Pros & Cons Of Being An Auto Mechanic
- Good earning potential
- No advanced degree required
- Can open own shop
- Job stability
- Hours can be varied and include weekends
- Injuries are a risk
- Lots of physical strain on the body can result in issues as you age
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about this career. If you have other questions that are not listed here – please email us or leave a comment below and we will be sure to add it!
Yes, you can become a mechanic without any additional schooling after high school, but we would not recommend it. At a minimum you should have a certification in auto mechanics to help you do better in your career and to provide you more opportunity. Alternatively, you can try and find a program where you can become an apprentice which some employers may view equally to a certification program.
Most employers would not hire a mechanic with no experience or education. It is important to at least do an apprenticeship or have some related job that will help employers see your value.
In most states there is no requirements to become a mechanic.
*Data source: Bureau of Labor Statistics