Mechanics: How Much Do They Make & What Do They Do?

If you’re the type of person who enjoys working with your hands, as well as taking things apart and fixing them, you might be an ideal candidate to become a mechanic. This can be a lucrative career choice, and there are many options to choose from. Before deciding if this is the career for you, you may ask: how much do mechanics make?

How Much Do Mechanics Make?

On average, an auto mechanic in the U.S. can make about $21.14 per hour, or more than $40,000 per year. Of course, this can be more or less depending on the skills and experience you have, as well as where you work. On the low end, mechanics can make $26,000 per year, and on the high end, you can make up to $89,000 per year.

What Does a Mechanic Do?

Asking how much do mechanics make is the first step in the process of figuring out if you want to become a mechanic. The next step is determining exactly what a mechanic does. In general, you will be responsible for performing repairs, inspections, diagnostic testing, and maintenance on various vehicles.

If you are an auto mechanic, you perform these duties on small cars and trucks. If you are a diesel mechanic, you will perform these duties on semis or other industrial equipment, including tractors or construction equipment. You could also become a boat mechanic, and then you would be working on personal watercraft or even large ships.

Specific Skills

As a mechanic, you have a great deal of general knowledge about fixing autos and other vehicles, or you can specialize in a certain area. More than likely, no matter what field you go into, you will need to be skilled and knowledgeable about technology and using diagnostic tools. These have been developed to help you do your job and find and fix problems.

In addition, not only will you need to know how to use technology to diagnose problems, but these advances are often included in vehicles; so you’ll need to know how to repair them. Many different systems now have chips and other computer components. If these break down or need an update, knowing how to correct the problem will make you a more valuable mechanic.

Areas of Expertise

If you decide you want to become a specialized mechanic as opposed to a general one, you have several different fields you can choose from. These include being a diesel mechanic, a heavy vehicle mechanic, a motorcycle mechanic, or a small engine mechanic.

You also have the opportunity to focus on one area of a vehicle, including brakes, transmissions, or even body work. You may even decide you want to specialize in air conditioning. To take on this job, you’ll need to have knowledge about government regulations to ensure that your client’s vehicle and you are in compliance. These regulations can change over time, so you’ll probably need continuing education to stay up to date on the latest rules.

Education Requirements

In general, you only need to have a high school diploma to become a mechanic. However, depending on the field you want to go into and employer requirements, you may need to get a certificate or an associate’s in automotive technology.

These can be acquired in different ways, including attending a technical school or vocational program. Being certified or having a degree in this field can make an impact when asking how much do mechanics make.

It’s even possible to take some courses online. This can be incredibly beneficial if you are looking to change careers or if this is a more convenient way for you to get the knowledge you need. If there’s a downside to this, it’s that you won’t be able to get some hands-on experience; but this won’t necessarily hurt you.

Hands-On Experience

For most mechanics, the training they receive for their position happens while they are on the job. While going to a vocational or trade school can be beneficial and give you the basic knowledge as well as hands-on experience to be successful in your position, you will learn a lot while at your job.

Where you hope to work will also determine whether or not you need to be certified or become a master mechanic. If you own your own shop, you certainly don’t have to go this route if you don’t want to. If you work for an employer, this may be something they require. However, they may also provide you with the tools and training to achieve these goals.

How Do You Become a Certified Mechanic?

If you become a certified mechanic, this may make you more appealing to employers. When you ask how much do mechanics make, you should know that being certified may put you on the higher end of the pay scale.

The notion of becoming a certified mechanic began in 1972 with the creation of the National Institute for Automotive Safety. This non-profit promotes excellence in automotive repair and service to ensure that people are safe when they are on the road. There are eight different areas where you can get your certification. These include:

  • Heating and air conditioning
  • Engine repair
  • Automotive transmission/transaxle
  • Engine performance
  • Manual drivetrain and axles
  • Electrical systems
  • Brakes
  • Steering and suspension


Before you can become certified, you have to have at least 2 years of experience in each area. You will then have to register and pass an exam. In addition, just because you are certified in one area does not mean you are certified in all areas.

You have the option of taking the certification test in all areas, or you may choose to focus on one or two. That will be determined by personal or employer preference. However, the more certifications you have, the better chance you have of being able to make more money.

Every 5 years, you will have to retake the certification test to keep your certification. This is because the industry continues to change and advance, and this will ensure that you have the skills and knowledge to do your job to the best of your ability.

Why Get Certified?

Being certified is beneficial in many ways, including making you more employable and potentially allowing you to earn more money. It also gives employers peace of mind in knowing that that they are hiring an employee with experience. Having a certification also gives customers peace of mind that a trained expert is working on their car.

How Do You Become a Master Mechanic?

When deciding to become a mechanic, you may decide you want to be a master mechanic. The skills and abilities you’ll need to achieve this goal include being able to diagnose and fix problems in various vehicles as well as have solid customer service skills.

You will also need at least a high school diploma and licensing from the Environmental Protection Agency so you can handle the refrigerants that go into air conditioners. You will also need computer experience to run the diagnostic machines and make these repairs for vehicles.

In addition to these items, you’ll also need to pass all eight exams that are given to be a certified mechanic. Thus, you will have to be knowledgeable about all aspects of car repair and have the required experience (2 years for each area) before you can take the exam. You’ll then need to pass the exam.

You will have to re-test every 5 years to keep your certification. Again, this ensures that you are up to date with the latest advancements in repair technology and have the skills to be a master mechanic.

Demand for Mechanics

While wondering how much do mechanics make, you might also be wondering if there is a demand for them. It is projected that between 2016 and 2026, the need for mechanics will grow by 6%. Thus, having this skill could be beneficial and allow you to find an exciting and wonderful career.

Who Hires Mechanics?

Mechanics are needed in practically all fields and industries that have vehicles. Some of the most obvious places that hire mechanics include car dealerships for their service department. In many cases, you will need to get specialized training to be able to work on a specific brand of cars—but not always.

Other areas where you may be able to find a job include the construction industry to work on the equipment, the trucking industry to keep semis rolling and delivering goods, and in a recreational vehicle stores to keep motorcycles, snowmobiles, and other off-road vehicles running. You can also find jobs working for rental car agencies and taxi services to keep the cars in good running condition.

You can even become a mechanic for the armed forces and keep their vehicles in tip-top shape so the soldiers can do their job. There’s also the option of becoming your own boss and opening your own service station. Becoming a mechanic gives you numerous options when it comes to working on vehicles. You get to pick the place and field that makes you the happiest and pursue your dreams from there.

Where Do Mechanics Live?

With your skills and abilities, you have the option to live anywhere in the U.S. Every place has cars or other types of vehicles, so you get to choose where you want to be and what you want to work on. From the desert, to the mountains, to the beach, people need experts to fix their vehicles.


When it comes to deciding if you want to become a mechanic, there are some things you’ll need to consider. The first is whether working on vehicles is something that interests you. If it is, then you will probably wonder how much do mechanics make. On average, you can expect to make around $40,000 pear year, but this can vary depending on your skills and where you work. You have the opportunity to make much more.

The basic requirements for this job are to have a high school diploma, but if you get certified or become a master mechanic, you are a much more valuable employee. This gives you the chance to make more money. As long as there are vehicles in the world, there will need to be mechanics to fix them.