How to Become
an Auto Mechanic
Best Education Tracks, Key Skills, and Top Certifications
Whether you’re passionate about car repair or you want to have a steady income, becoming an auto mechanic could be the right choice for you. Auto mechanics usually have stable jobs and good pay for their projects. They can choose to work independently or get hired by a company.
If you want to become an auto mechanic, there are many paths you can take. This comprehensive guide can help you decide which is best for you. You’ll learn about salaries, certifications, educational paths, and more.
What Is an Auto Mechanic?
An auto mechanic is a professional who troubleshoots, diagnoses, and repairs cars or other automobiles. Generally, an auto mechanic works with electronic systems, engines, and other parts of the vehicle.
There is a difference between an auto technician and an auto mechanic. Automotive service technicians work on the car’s computer, while an auto mechanic works with the mechanical parts. Those could be the engine or the transmission, for example.
What Type of School Should You Attend
to Become an Auto Mechanic?
You need to go to a vocational school or trade school to become an auto mechanic. Although most states don’t require you to have a bachelor’s degree, you need to have some formal training. The first thing you should have is a high school diploma or an equivalent certificate. Then you can move on to higher education.
Best Auto Mechanic Education Tracks
If you want to stand out as a mechanic, you need to get the proper education. Below are some of the best career tracks you can follow to become an auto mechanic.
Vocational or trade schools offer training programs for hands-on jobs like plumbing or auto mechanics. Most people who want to follow a career as a mechanic join a vocational school. You can learn about A/C troubleshooting, engine diagnosis, oil changes, and more. It is one of the most crucial steps in your journey of becoming an automotive mechanic.
According to MidWest Tech, the average trade school costs $5,000 to $15,000. The duration of the course will depend on the school and your experience. However, most programs take around one to two years.
Auto Mechanic Degrees
To become an auto mechanic, you can also obtain an associate degree in a relevant field like automotive technology. You will learn about the principles of automotive repair, electrical systems, and diagnosis. According to the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation, this is one of the highest obtainable degrees in the automotive industry.
Auto Mechanic Courses
If you want to complement your education, you can enroll in an automotive mechanic course. They are usually specified programs that help you build different specialties. For example, you can specialize in engine repair, transmissions, or electrical systems troubleshooting. It depends on what you enjoy doing.
How to Become an Auto Mechanic: A Step-by-Step Guide
There are a couple of steps to follow if you’d like to become an auto mechanic. Below, we’ve listed out some of the main ones to consider.
Obtain a high school diploma
The first step to consider is to get a high school diploma. If you don’t have one, you can also pass the GED test and obtain an equivalent certificate.
Attend vocational school
This might be the most fundamental step in your way of becoming an auto mechanic. Trade school will give you the core skills you should have as a mechanic. It can help you get a job in the field.
Opt for a certification
Although it’s not mandatory, having a certification can help you move your resume up the stacks. It is a way to prove that you have the skills needed for this profession.
Start the job search
Once you’ve completed your educational training and certifications, you can start looking for an auto mechanic job. You can get an entry-level job or something similar to start.
Get an entry-level job
An entry-level auto mechanic job will help you get the experience you need to start building your career. You’ll work under the supervision of a more experienced mechanic in the process. You can also get an apprenticeship in the field.
Key Auto Mechanic Skills
As an auto mechanic, you will need a few fundamental skills to succeed. These include oil changing, engine repair, and overall automotive diagnosis and repair skills.
Below are more auto mechanic skills and responsibilities.
Every car needs an oil change once in a while, and auto mechanics can perform this task. It is one of the most vital skills that an auto mechanic should have. The first thing to do is examine the oil level and filter to see if the car needs a change. When doing the oil change, you will also need to change the oil filter.
Engine repair is another skill that all auto mechanics should have. If the engine of a vehicle has suffered significant damage, it may need to be repaired. However, if there has been irreversible damage, the mechanic will need to replace the engine with a new one. Auto mechanics should also have administrative skills to provide cost quotes.
Brake System Checks
Working with brake systems is also crucial when it comes to automotive mechanic services. An auto mechanic should be able to overhaul and repair the entire brake system. However, they may also work with minor repairs to the disc brakes. Another task is to maintain the brake system by replacing the brake fluid to enhance performance.
Auto Mechanic Salary and Job Outlook
An auto mechanic’s salary will depend on the type of job they have. You can work independently or with a company. However, PayScale estimates that an automotive mechanic’s average salary ranges from $26,000 to $72,000 per year.
Entry-Level Auto Mechanic Job Requirements
To work in an entry-level auto mechanic position, you must have a high school diploma, or equivalent certificate, and a certificate from a technical or vocational school. You don’t necessarily need to have prior experience, but you’ll have to work under supervision.
What Does An Auto Mechanic Do?
An auto mechanic has many different responsibilities. These include performing tests, troubleshooting, and auto repairs. As an auto mechanic, you should be resilient and find innovative and safe solutions for vehicle problems.
Below are some more responsibilities that auto mechanics share.
Inspection and Diagnosis
All auto mechanic professionals must be able to evaluate and make an accurate diagnosis of different issues. Car diagnosis is performed by using software that hooks up to the vehicle’s computer system. This is where the vehicle logs the reports and errors. You may sometimes have to look at the car and solve problems based on its physical state.
Auto Part Maintenance
Auto mechanics regularly perform maintenance services for cars and other vehicles. For example, they can change oil, change brake fluid, replace batteries, change air filters, and more. This maintenance is vital for every vehicle.
Mechanics must also perform auto repairs. This is one of the highest paying services because they require more effort, qualifications, and tools. Some of the most common vehicle repairs are engine replacement, solving alternator failure, fixing squeaky brakes, and troubleshooting warning lights.
Auto Mechanic Certifications
A great way to add value to your resume is to obtain an auto mechanic certification. Each one has different requirements and difficulty levels. Check out the descriptions below to decide which is best for you.
National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (NASE)
The ASE certification is one of the most reputable ones in the automotive industry. This certification covers eight fundamental topics, including auto repairs, diagnosis, electrical systems, air conditioning services, and more. The test for this certification includes around 75 questions. You can use the NASE’s practice questions to get ready.
ASE Masters Certification
An ASE master’s certification is one of the highest validation levels you can have as a mechanic. This certification works in all types of vehicles, including cars, school buses, and trucks. Keep in mind that the requirements may change depending on the type of vehicle you choose. No matter what, you should obtain the basic ASE certification.
If your goal is to work with a certain manufacturer, you should consider obtaining a manufacturer certification. Getting factory-certified means that you are proficient when working with a specific brand such as Honda, Ford, Toyota, or Chevrolet. This can help you specialize and make more money in the field.
How to Prepare for Your Auto Mechanic Job Interview
Once you get the education you need, you should prepare for job interviews. Researching practice questions and becoming more confident can help you ace your job interview. The first thing you should do is to investigate the company’s standards and values. This way, it’ll be easier for you to demonstrate you’re the right fit for this position.
It is also important to go over the fundamentals of automotive mechanics. You must be prepared for any type of challenge you may face. Below are some sample interview questions that can help you practice for your auto mechanic job interview.
Auto Mechanic Job Interview Practice Questions
- What are the main causes of engine overheating?
- Do you have your car in good condition?
- What are the things you do to maintain your vehicle in an optimal state?
- Describe how the timing belt works.
- How can you determine whether a problem is caused by the alternator or the battery?
- What are the components of the lubrication system?
- How would you perform an oil change?
- How does the clutch system work?
- What are the main things you evaluate in a used car?
How Long Does It Take to Become an Auto Mechanic?
The average time it takes to become an auto mechanic is around two to three years. This includes two years of trade training and some experience in entry-level positions. To become a fully qualified auto mechanic, you should also obtain certification.
Should You Become an Auto Mechanic in 2021?
Yes, you should become a graphic designer in 2021. The job outlook is increasing for tech-based positions. It’s also easy to switch to more lucrative roles if you have a background in graphic design. If you want to use your artistic skills in the tech world, graphic design is the best option for you.
Auto Mechanic FAQ
Is auto mechanics a dying profession?
No, it is not. Some reports say that there are fewer jobs available, but everyone always needs auto mechanics. As long as there are cars, you can get a job as an auto mechanic.
Is it hard to be a car mechanic?
This depends on your expertise and skills. It might not be such a demanding profession for people who are used to physical effort. However, others that aren’t familiar with this type of job may find it challenging.
How dangerous is being a mechanic?
Being a mechanic is somewhat dangerous, but you shouldn’t worry. Some auto mechanics get burns or cuts when performing certain tasks.