The Highest-Paying Careers
for Mechanics in 2021
Mechanics play vital roles in the repair and maintenance of machinery across all sectors. It is a broad career path with various job opportunities at different levels. So, before you get educated, the first thing you need to do is decide which field you want to work in as a mechanic.
Whether you want to become an aircraft mechanic or radio mechanic, this guide will teach you more about the best careers for mechanics in 2021. You will learn the minimum education requirements, salary expectations, job outlook, and job description for the best careers for mechanics.
What Is a Mechanic?
A mechanic is a hands-on expert who creates, repairs, or maintains machinery. These experts often work in tandem with other professionals to develop solutions to mechanical problems.
The two basic classifications of mechanics are heavyweight and lightweight. Within the heavyweight category, you will find mechanics who work on trailers and other heavy-duty machinery. For the lightweight category, you will find people who work on cars or anything with a smaller engine.
Why You Should Pursue a Career as a Mechanic
The mechanic career path is primarily for people who love to work with their hands and have a talent for fixing things. Keep in mind that most mechanics don’t need a postsecondary degree. They can get appropriate certifications after completing an apprenticeship program.
The salary potential for mechanics varies depending on the path you take. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that automotive mechanics earn a median average of $44,050 annually. On the other hand, aircraft mechanics earn up to $66,680.
The job outlook also varies from one field to the next. Per the example above, there is a four percent projected decline in auto mechanic job opportunities. For aircraft mechanics, the BLS projects a five percent increase. If you’re concerned about your job outlook, you should choose a mechanic career with a rise in demand.
Top 10 Careers for Mechanics at a Glance
The table below contains basic information about the 10 best mechanic careers in 2021. All data has been sourced from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Job growth statistics refer to the rise in the number of job opportunities by 2029.
|Job Title||Education Requirement||Projected Job Growth||Median Pay|
|Electrical Mechanic||Associate Degree||2%||$67,550|
|Aircraft Mechanic||FAA Certification||5%||$66,680|
|Radio Mechanic||Associate Degree||4%||$56,000|
|Motorboat Mechanic||High School Diploma||1%||$55,540|
|Industrial Machinery Mechanic||High School Diploma||13%||$54,920|
|Mobile Heavy Equipment Mechanic||High School Diploma||0%||$53,370|
|Heating, Air Conditioning, and
|College-Level Technical Diploma or Certificate||4%||$50,590|
|Diesel Service Mechanic||High School Diploma||3%||$50,200|
|Automotive Mechanic||College-Level Technical Diploma or Certificate||-4%||$44,050|
|Motorcycle Mechanic||College-Level Technical Diploma or Certificate||4%||$38,010|
The Best Careers for Mechanics in 2021
Now that you know the best career paths for mechanics, it’s time to learn what each job entails. Study the descriptions below to see which of these careers will be a perfect match for your natural talent.
For this career path, you will need an Associate Degree in Electrical or Electronic Engineering. You can also get a technical diploma from a trade school. Electrical mechanics typically work on the electronic parts of machines. For example, an electrical mechanic may work on a car’s navigation system but will not work on the engine.
Electrical Mechanic Responsibilities
- Builds and assembles existing electrical components
- Repairs and replaces defective components
- Reads and interprets blueprints from engineers
An aircraft mechanic is a hands-on technician who is responsible for the repair and maintenance of aircraft. There are typically two types of aircraft mechanics: Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) and Avionics. You will need to complete training from a program that is certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Aircraft Mechanic Responsibilities
- Runs routine maintenance to ensure that aircraft are up to FAA standards
- Inspects aircraft pre- and post-takeoff
- Replaces damaged aircraft parts
- Collects accurate data during maintenance and inspection for reference
Radio mechanics are typically classified in the same category as cellular and tower equipment mechanics. They work on the installation, repair, and maintenance of transmission and telecommunication equipment across industries. To get this job, you can complete an associate degree or an apprenticeship program.
Radio Mechanic Responsibilities
- Ensures that signal strength is sufficient
- Repairs or replaces defective radio equipment
- Works behind the scenes in radio stations to ensure smooth transmission
Boat engines might be similar to car engines, but there are still some key differences. Motorboat mechanics are explicitly trained to handle repairs and maintenance of different types of boat engines. Some mechanics may specialize in small or large boat engines. With a high school diploma and on-the-job training, you can get this job.
Motorboat Mechanic Responsibilities
- Runs maintenance on the mechanical and electrical components of motorboats
- Test-drives motorboats to ensure that the engines, motors, and other parts work
- Overhauls defective boat engines
Industrial Machinery Mechanic
As the name implies, these mechanics focus on the repair and maintenance of factory equipment. They work on everything from food processing to car manufacturing. It is one of the fastest-growing careers for mechanics, with a projected 13 percent job growth. Most industrial mechanics only need to complete vocational training after high school.
Industrial Machinery Mechanic Responsibilities
- Ensures factory machines are calibrated to meet the manufacturer’s specifications
- Assembles or disassembles machines when necessary
- Runs maintenance checks and repairs at intervals
Mobile Heavy Equipment Mechanic
Mobile equipment mechanics work on heavy-duty vehicles and equipment in the agricultural, construction, and rail transportation industries. Most mobile heavy equipment mechanics only have a high school diploma or equivalent. However, getting trained after high school will increase your chances of getting employed.
Mobile Heavy Equipment Mechanic Responsibilities
- Tests engines, electrical, and other systems on heavy-duty machines
- Interprets blueprints and manuals when necessary
- Uses computer-based tools to diagnose defects and malfunctions
Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanic
These mechanics, also known as HVAC technicians, are in charge of maintaining air conditioners, refrigerators, freezers, and more. You can get into the field with a postsecondary nondegree award, but you can also get an associate degree. Most HVAC technicians work as contractors, while others get jobs in the public or private sector.
Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanic Responsibilities
- Installations of HVAC systems on a commercial and residential level
- Replaces and repairs HVAC systems
- Keeps maintenance and replacement records for reference
- Drafts estimated cost for quotes to clients ahead of repairs
Diesel Service Mechanic
Diesel mechanic careers are similar to auto careers, but they only work on diesel-powered machines. These are typically heavy-duty vehicles like commercial trucks, tractors, and buses. In the United States, diesel technicians are usually hired by heavy-duty transportation companies.
Diesel Service Mechanic Responsibilities
- Repairs and maintains diesel-powered vehicles
- Examines the diesel engines to ensure that they are in perfect condition
- Refurbishes defective diesel engines and sells them
These are lightweight mechanics who typically work on the repair and maintenance of cars. In some cases, they may also work on small trucks. Note that the job growth for this career is expected to decline, but there will still be auto mechanic jobs. Auto mechanics should have good customer service skills along with mechanic skills.
Automotive Mechanic Responsibilities
- Identifies mechanical issues in automotive vehicles
- Carries out routine maintenance to prevent future challenges
- Repairs and replaces the mechanical parts of a vehicle
- Teaches and supervises apprentices
These mechanics are responsible for repairing and maintaining motorcycles, dirt bikes, scooters, mopeds, tricycles, and other simple motorized vehicles. Typically, you will need your high school diploma or equivalent, along with technical training. The training can come from a vocational school or community college.
Motorcycle Mechanic Responsibilities
- Disassembles motorcycles when there is a problem or when it’s time for maintenance
- Services engines at intervals to make sure they are running smoothly
- Changes brake lines, ignition, transmissions, and more
What Education Is Required for a Mechanic?
The entry-level education requirement for most mechanics is a high school diploma combined with an apprenticeship program. This makes sense since the job involves a lot of hands-on training, and it’s better to gain this knowledge in a real-world position.
For some other career paths, it’s not enough to work as an apprentice. You will benefit significantly from higher education to qualify for the certification exam required to get jobs in the United States. For example, aircraft mechanics need to attend the FAA Academy and pass a series of exams before getting certified.
Another option for more advanced careers is getting an Associate or Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering. These experts deal primarily with the design and development of power-producing machines that other mechanics repair and maintain.
Can I Study to Become a Mechanic Online?
Yes, you can become a mechanic through online classes. However, most online schools are accompanied by hands-on internships that allow you to apply what you’ve learned and get work experience.
It is also important to note that not all types of mechanics can benefit from online learning. It is popular among auto and motorcycle mechanics because they can learn basic knowledge through online colleges. In most cases, however, it’s still advisable to get hands-on training.
Personality Traits Necessary for a Mechanic
Mechanics across industries need to have natural problem-solving skills since this is what the bulk of their work involves. It’s also vital that they apply this skill on the spot because machines can be unpredictable.
A mechanic should also be good at paying attention to detail. This allows them to identify machine malfunctions quickly and efficiently. There are diagnostics tools available, but a mechanic should be able to find problems on their own.
Communication is one of the most important soft skills for mechanics. You need to know how to listen properly so you can understand when others are explaining a mechanical problem to you. You also need to communicate with clients and customers to explain how you will fix their machines.
Is a Job as a Mechanic Good for Me?
Yes, it is a great job for you. If you are physically capable of handling hands-on projects, mechanics is a great career option. The job description typically depends on the field of study and job title. However, all mechanics need to get their hands dirty. This explains why most mechanic certifications involve practical exams.
If you prefer working in an office with no hands-on work, you may want to consider another career path. However, if you do enjoy physical work, you should look into one of these careers for mechanics.