Are you the one that your friends or family turn to when their car breaks down? Were you one of the kids that enjoyed breaking down and then rebuilding your toys? Are you good with your hands, understand computers and can solve problems quickly? If this describes you then you may want to consider learning more about how to become an auto mechanic.
Being an automotive mechanic is becoming more and more technical, leading to a higher demand and higher pay. It is a career that has several levels of expertise so you can start at the bottom relatively quickly and then work your way up as you learn more.
How to become an auto mechanic:
1. If you happen to be in high school and know that a career as a mechanic would be a perfect fit for you, consider looking into programs that your school may offer. Most high schools offer auto repair programs that are run alongside the Automotive Youth Education Systems (AYES) program.
At the high school level, go through these steps to get a jump-start on your career:
- Take high school courses that will help you learn the skills needed for this career. These include math, reading, and computer classes.
- Take courses through AYES that will teach the basics in auto repair, auto maintenance and collision repair.
- Intern during your summers at a local dealership. During this internship you will learn not only how to diagnosis and repair cars, but also how to be an employee. You will gain a mentor, who will be an experienced and certified auto technician.
- Once you reach high school graduation you will be able to step right into a full-time position. The position will be entry-level but you will be able to further your education to gain more certifications, leading to a higher position and higher pay.
2. Don’t worry if you are already out of high school. Those that figure out what they want to do when they are that young are just lucky. Most of us don’t figure it out until well after high school.
Since AYES is only for high school students, you will have to go down a different path.
Check out programs at your local technical schools and community colleges. Automotive mechanic courses are extremely popular so you will likely find several choices within a short distance. The one thing you want to look for is that the course prepares you to take an Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification test.
3. It is a good idea to contact local dealerships and auto repair centers and ask about any training programs they may offer. This field is in high demand so many employers are eager for good employees so they offer ways to bring in entry-level employees. Often, they will pay for training courses in exchange for a guarantee that you will work for them after you complete certification.
4. Gain experience. Most employers only hire auto mechanics that have ASE certifications. However, to gain an ASE certification you must have at least two years of experience working in the industry.
Some of this work experience requirement can be substituted with training while in high school, or at a community college, technical school, or trade school.
5. If you are still on the fence about working as an auto mechanic, it is a good idea to get an entry-level job at a repair center or dealership so you can see the work environment and the tasks that mechanics must perform. You may work as a parts runner or at the front desk, dealing with clients.
While working this entry-level position you can take evening classes at a local community college or technical school if you decide to work further in this field.
6. If you want to start working immediately in the shop you can be hired as a trainee technician. You will be trained to do a lot of the work that a certified mechanic can do but under the supervision of a mentor. Once you gain two years of experience you will be eligible for taking ASE certification tests so you can officially become a certified auto mechanic.
7. Once you gain enough ASE certifications to work as a mechanic, continue to take more courses so that you can earn even more certificates. The more certificates you earn will lead to a higher position, such as an auto technician or a master mechanic, which will then lead to higher pay. Make sure you ask your employer whether they pay for any continuing education courses.
Auto Mechanic Certification
8. Start your personal collection of tools. While all employers will give access to large expensive tools and electronic diagnostic equipment, all mechanics must own their own set of standard tools. Their tools are like the knives of a professional chef. Mechanics treat their own tools as if they were their children. Don’t skimp. Save your money and buy tools that will last a long time.
9. As cars become more technical you will need to be more comfortable and familiar with electronics and computers. It used to be that you could practically get into the engine compartment of a car and fix most problems with a wrench. Now, most problems are diagnosed and even fixed with a computer. Over the coming years we will see more hybrid cars, electric cars, as well as cars we can’t even imagine right now. These will all require a very technical skillset. So, in order to stay on top of this field you should continue your education by taking more technical courses.
Learning how to become a mechanic is a great choice for many people, especially those that can’t see themselves going through four years of college. With salaries reaching $100,000 in the cities and with the demand for mechanics increasing now is a great time to enter this field. You can start slow by taking classes at night while deciding if you want to pursue becoming an automobile mechanic.
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