How To Become A Mechanic: You May Be Wondering, What Next?

man repairing his car

If you like to work with your hands, if you’re always interested in learning the nuts and bolts of how things work, and if you have at least a high school diploma, then maybe you should consider learning how to become a mechanic. This is an exciting field with a positive job outlook and several opportunities for advancement.

What Does a Mechanic Do?

car engine silver

Most people think that a mechanic merely repairs cars and trucks. Today's mechanic is someone who has to be well-versed in specific areas such as brakes or steering. In addition, as cars become more and more sophisticated and automated, mechanics must know how to work with on-board computers and software.

Mechanics also work with heavy equipment machinery and they must have an extensive knowledge about a wide array of tools and how to use them correctly. Mechanics also perform preventative maintenance to ensure that vehicles can operate safely and at optimum performance.

If you want to know how to become a mechanic, it may surprise you to learn that you also must be familiar with computers. Sophisticated software programs can be frequently seen in today’s modern vehicles as more and more electrical and mechanical parts are being controlled by computers.

What Kinds of Tools Do Mechanics Use?

different sizes of tools

Mechanics should have an extensive working knowledge of not only how to use tools, but which tools should be used for specific situations. Mechanics must know how to use tools such as:

  • Computer diagnostic equipment
  • Onboard computer systems
  • Torches
  • Lathes
  • Jacks
  • A wide variety of hand tools

Experienced Mechanics May Open Their Own Shops

vintage car

Being a mechanic means much more than working on engines. As you gain greater experience, additional certifications, and training, you'll likely gain greater responsibility. This will often require you to complete additional training and to be familiar with the in-house computer system. As you grow in your career, you may be placed in a supervisory position where you will monitor and even hire other mechanics.

As you learn more about the business aspect of mechanics, you may do as many other auto mechanics have done and open your own garage and go into business for yourself.  You may have a specialty shop where you only work on certain makes or models or restore vintage cars.

Career Path & Outlook

With the latest technological innovations and inventions hitting the auto industry, this is the perfect time to learn how to be a mechanic. The median yearly salary in 2012 was $36,610 a year. Those who were in the top ten percent earned over $60,070. Those in the lowest ten percent earned $20,810. It's important to remember that experience and advanced certifications can all play a role in how much a mechanic earns.

The salary can also vary because some mechanics are paid by the hour, while others earn their paycheck based upon commission, so the more work they complete, the more they earn. This is an important thing to consider as you evaluate how to become a mechanic and what your ideal work environments would be.

Job Growth for Mechanics

Job growth for mechanics appears to be steady, expanding at the same rate of other jobs in the U.S. economy. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 2012 and 2020 there will be 9 percent growth for the employment of auto mechanics. Of course, job prospects will be better for those who have completed their extensive automotive training at community colleges and vocational training programs. The market will also favor those who have earned some additional type of certification.

Training & Certifications

Are you interested in learning how to become a mechanic? There are several steps you'll have to take. You'll discover that the more education and experience you have, the more you will earn and you'll be much more likely to get a job.

You will have to follow these steps to help ensure a successful career:

Earn a High School Diploma or Ged

This is required in order to participate in a more advanced certificate or degree program. In addition, you may also want to consider the Automotive Youth Education Services (AYES) program. The Automotive Youth Education Services Program is for high school students, and it is offered in certain parts of the United States. It goes a step beyond academics to offer extensive hands-on training and information about automotive technology. It’s perfect for those wondering how to become a mechanic.

A high school diploma is the minimum amount of education necessary to become a mechanic, however, employers prefer those who have additional education such as an associate’s program or degrees in other related fields. If you want to be a mechanic, you should consider earning additional job certification so that you will have more opportunities. Previous experience is always a plus, but the career also involves a lot of on-the-job training.

Earn a Degree from a Vocational Education Program

These training programs are easily found at community colleges, vocational schools and even from some automobile manufactures. Most require one or two years to complete, depending upon how many classes you take per semester. After graduation, you’ll have an associate’s degree or a certificate of completion. If you’re really interested in how to become a mechanic, you should also take courses in the following subjects:

  • Electronics
  • Automotive repair
  • Computers
  • Math
  • English

Receive a Specialized Certificate

A certificate makes you more competitive in the marketplace and will gain the positive attention of potential employers. These certificates are available through the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. (ASE) This organization has extensive certifications in different areas that highlight various aspects of the auto mechanic industry. These areas include:

  • Engine restoration
  • Heating systems
  • Air-conditioning
  • Electrical structures
  • Brake systems
  • Steering systems

On-the-Job Training

Once you’ve earned your degree and your certification, your journey on how to become a mechanic isn’t quite over. You’ll need to participate in employer training for several months. During this training, you’ll work closely with your coworkers, who may be trained technicians or automotive helpers. Remember to not only show them that you can work independently; it's also vitally important to demonstrate that you can also work effectively as part of a team.

Master Mechanic

If you complete all eight of the auto service specialty areas listed by the ASE, then you can earn the designation of master mechanic. This represents one of the highest levels of achievement. Earning this certification means you've successfully completed your quest on how to become a mechanic.

How to Get Started

Now that you’ve learned how to become a mechanic, you may be wondering, what next? After you’ve completed your education and earned your certification, it’s time to look for a job. There are several ways you can learn about job openings. You may check online job boards, utilize community resources, or even information from your community college. Another approach is to go directly to the car dealership and ask about jobs. Don’t forget to also inquire at smaller, independent auto repair shops as well.

One of the advantages of completing automotive technology training programs is that you can make contacts in your field. It’s very important to get the name and contact information of these people so you can reach out to them if there are job openings at their place of employment. If there aren't any openings available where they work, they may hear of an opportunity that would be a good fit for you.

Want to Learn More about How to Become a Mechanic?

With all the advancements in automotive technology, there is always something more to learn about auto mechanics. You should look into the licensure requirement for your state and research any additional certification programs that may be available. It's also important to stay up-to-date with the latest innovations in automotive software and how it affects both your career field and the auto industry as a whole.

Conclusion

If you’re interested in a rewarding career, discovering how to be a mechanic can be an excellent choice. Today’s mechanic is one part automotive technician and one part computer programmer because he or she must run sophisticated diagnostic equipment and repair today's high-tech automobiles. Mechanics are also responsible for vehicle maintenance and inspections that help ensure that the cars and trucks on the road are safe.

There are several opportunities to complete advanced certification to reach your goals. The more education and experience you have, the more competitive you’ll be in the marketplace.

In order to become a mechanic, it is vital that you must have a minimum of a high school diploma. However, it's important that you realize most employers are looking for someone who has completed an associate's degree program and/or certifications. Many of these programs can be found at local community colleges. The job market for mechanics remains positive and appears to continue this upward trend well through 2020.

Consider a career in auto mechanics. You'll find that learning how to become a mechanic can lead to a rewarding job with room for development, growth and new opportunities.

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