Being an automotive mechanic is a rewarding, mentally stimulating, and potentially lucrative job opportunity. But how do you become a mechanic? And what are the best ways to thrive in this career?
What Is a Mechanic?
Before you apply to become a mechanic, you should understand the key responsibilities of a mechanic. Auto mechanics are technically skilled professionals who work on vehicles to ensure their safe, reliable functionality.
Your key duties will likely include the following:
- Inspect vehicles. Part of your job will include inspecting vehicles, verifying their structural integrity and safety. If you notice anything wrong, you’ll need to document it and potentially resolve it.
- Diagnose problems. When people come to you with vehicles that have issues, it’s your job to diagnose them. If a driver hears a weird noise coming from the front of the vehicle, or if the steering wheel doesn’t handle optimally, you’ll be responsible for figuring out the root cause of the problem.
- Repair or replace worn/broken/malfunctioning parts. When parts of the vehicle become worn, broken, or otherwise liable to malfunction, you’ll need to repair or replace them.
- Perform routine maintenance. You may also be responsible for routine maintenance tasks, such as changing the oil or rotating the tires on vehicles.
- Keep records. For all these tasks and more, you’ll likely be responsible for keeping detailed records of your actions. This is especially important if you’re maintaining a fleet for a company.
- Conduct customer service. In some contexts, you may also be responsible for some level of customer service, such as explaining vehicular problems to customers who need assistance.
Reasons to Become a Mechanic
Why should you consider becoming a mechanic?
- High demand. There’s significant demand for automotive mechanics, and that demand isn’t likely to go away anytime soon. People and businesses will always need vehicles for logistics and transportation needs, so there will always be a need for mechanics who can repair them. There’s an especially high demand for mechanics now due to the current labor shortage, but even when the economy stabilizes, if you have the requisite skills, you may never be without a job.
- Potentially high salaries. The median salary for a mechanic is around $49,000 per year. As a mechanic, you probably won’t make as much money as you would as a lawyer or a doctor, but if you keep advancing your career, you can make good money – especially considering the fact that you may not have a college degree.
- Working with your hands. Some people strive to become mechanics so they can actively work with their hands. There’s something rewarding and fulfilling about fixing mechanical issues with your own hands – and not staring at a screen all day.
- Opportunities for growth and development. There’s no upper limit to what you can learn and practice as a mechanic. Every day, you’ll have the opportunity to learn new things and incorporate new technologies.
How to Become a Mechanic
Now for the important part: how do you become a mechanic if this is a good fit for you?
- Earn your high school diploma or GED. Most organizations hiring mechanics want them to have at least a high school diploma or an equivalent credential. This may or may not be strictly necessary, depending on the nature of the position and the nature of the organization.
- Consider earning a degree. It’s also a good idea to pursue an associate degree or higher in a field relevant to automotive mechanics. This isn’t a necessity for most mechanic positions, but it could help you stand out in a pool of applicants.
- Earn certifications. There are several certifications and additional credentials you can earn as an automotive mechanic, and these can increase your chances of being hired. For example, if you can become certified through the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), you’ll be much better qualified for most mechanic positions.
- Get initial experience. It’s helpful to have some experience before you apply for a full-time position as a mechanic. Depending on your current level of knowledge and your current situation, you could pursue part-time work, shadow an experienced mechanic, or work on vehicles independently to build your skill set.
- Start applying. Once you’ve tackled all these items, you’ll be ready to start applying for a full-time job. Most automotive and transportation companies are currently hiring due to a labor shortage, so you should have plenty of options.
When you start your career as an automotive mechanic, you could be setting yourself up for decades of fulfilling work. They’re looking for a change of pace from your current career or you’re trying to start a career for the first time, the tips in this article should give you a strong foundation to get started.