Auto Mechanics Career Information Page

So you want to become an auto mechanic? Whether you're a hobbyist who loves to fix cars or a high school student trying to decide on a suitable career, a job in the automotive service industry might be for you. If you find fixing motor vehicles, working with unique tools, and solving technical problems fun and easy, learning to do this job can definitely pay off. Never work a day in your life when your work feels like play! Here, you can find the resources to find out whether being an auto mechanic is for you, what workers in the industry are typically paid, what you need to become a technician, and the various certifications that are required to work with cars.

Automotive Technician: Job Profile

The median salary of automotive service technicians was $36,610 (about $17.60 per hour) according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which makes it an appealing job choice for high school students looking to attend trade school rather than a four-year college. The highest earners (the top 10%) received more than $69,070, and the lowest earners (the lowest 10%) received less than $20,810. Mechanics are largely very well-trained in using specific tools, used to dealing with chemicals, and need to solve unique or puzzling problems on a regular basis. To make an accurate car problem diagnosis, years of knowledge and analytics are often required. Though auto mechanics is still widely considered to be a male-dominated field (an estimated 9.5% of auto repairers were women in 2014) the industry has become more diversified. It's also become more complicated. Increasingly sophisticated automobile technologies like hybrid or electric cars demand that aspiring mechanics become more scientifically and technically knowledgeable. As such, it's a job that continues to be in relatively high demand.

How to Become a Mechanic

Becoming a mechanic isn't easy, but it can certainly be a lot of fun for those who love to fix things. First, you'll want to start with a few skills: fine motor capabilities, diagnostic skills, analytical skills, interpersonal skills, and the ability to teach others. The next step is to enroll in a post-secondary certificate or degree program, which usually takes from six months to a year. The students will study car parts, manuals, chemical use, and diagnostics, and often practice working with older vehicles. After school, a student will need about two to five years of on-the-job training in an entry-level position before being considered a "senior" car mechanic or technician. That period of training is followed by certification.

Certification and Requirements for Mechanics

There are quite a few laws surrounding automobile repairs, and each state is a little bit different. However, most employers will often want to see that a potential employee has Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification. This is the most recognized and recommended car service certification, and it's composed of several different tests. Specialties, such as management of car parts or engine work, may require more training. Mechanics across the U.S. also have to be trained and certified in handling environment-harming, dangerous coolant by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). An auto repairer looking to be able to complete state inspections will need to obtain the proper credentials in that state. Those hoping to open their own shop will need more intensive knowledge, such as how to maintain OSHA standards for safety at work, and what the local state laws (such as New York state's "Lemon Law") are.

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