Are you detail-oriented and good at working with machinery? You might enjoy a career as an auto mechanic. This article will give you an overview of what an auto mechanic does and how you can get your start in this field.
What Does an Auto Mechanic Do?
An auto mechanic’s job is to repair and maintain vehicles. Some auto mechanics are generalists who work with many different types of autos and can fix a wide variety of problems. Others are specialists who focus on diagnosing and fixing particular problems or specific vehicle types. For instance, some auto mechanics work only on transmissions or on diesel trucks.
Auto mechanics need to have a lot of specialized knowledge about how vehicles work. They need to be able to take vehicles apart, accurately diagnose problems, use a wide variety of tools, and pay close attention to small details. Almost all newer cars have computers in them, so auto mechanics also need to be fluent with the technology that allows them to diagnose and fix problems in new cars.
Auto mechanics don’t just need technical skills, though. The job also involves interacting with a wide variety of customers on a day-to-day basis, so auto mechanics need to have good people skills. They need to be able to ask good questions, so they can figure out what’s going on with a car that isn’t working right. They also need to be able to explain problems in layman’s terms, make it clear which repairs are necessary, and give customers advice about how to keep their car working well for as long as possible.
You might hear the term “auto technician” used sometimes. Some people use “auto technician” interchangeably with “auto mechanic.” Other people say “auto technician” to refer to a person who diagnoses car problems by using a computer, and “auto mechanic” to refer to a person who actually does the work of fixing the car. Today, most people who work on cars need to know how to do both of these things, so there’s not much of a practical difference between these terms.
Where Does an Auto Mechanic Work?
Most auto mechanics work at garages. People bring their cars to the garage for tune-ups and repairs, and mechanics complete the work on-site. Some auto mechanics also work for car dealerships, many of which have a garage on-site.
Most garages are clean, well-lit, and well-ventilated. However, working conditions for auto mechanics are still uncomfortable sometimes. Mechanics need to work with greasy tools, and they may need to squeeze into tight spaces or stand in uncomfortable positions to carry out repairs.
What Is the Job Outlook for Auto Mechanics?
The job outlook for auto mechanics is good. The Bureau of Labor Services projects this career to keep pace with the rest of the work world, with over 39,000 new jobs predicted to appear between 2014 and 2024. Someone with good qualifications should be able to find a job as an auto mechanic without much trouble.
How Much Do Auto Mechanics Make?
The Bureau of Labor Services reports that auto mechanics can expect to bring home $18.50 an hour, or about $38,000 every year. Senior mechanics can expect a bigger paycheck than those who are just starting out.
How You Can Become an Auto Mechanic
Interested in becoming an auto mechanic yourself? Good choice – auto repair is a reliable field of work that won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. Even better, you don’t need a great deal of education to become qualified as an entry-level mechanic. Here’s how you can get your career as a mechanic off the ground.
First, earn a high school degree or the equivalent, if you haven’t done this already. Most garages require their mechanics to have at least completed high school.
Second, look into options for vocational education in your area, especially if you have no previous experience working with cars. Most vocational schools offer programs that train new mechanics. Before you sign up for a program, make sure to research the school, too. Choose a school that is well-regarded and that has a good track record of sending graduates on to jobs or apprenticeships.
To become a competitive job applicant, you will probably only need to earn a certificate at a vocational school. However, depending on the kind of job you want, you may also be interested in earning an associate’s degree in service technology. An associate’s degree will take longer to earn, but it will make you a better-rounded, more versatile worker, and you’ll have more career directions available to you.
After you earn a certificate or a degree, get your foot in the door by looking for apprenticeships. An apprenticeship will give you valuable on-the-job training and work experience. By the time you finish an apprenticeship, you’ll be ready to work as a mechanic on your own.