Auto Mechanic: Job Duties, Career Outlook, and Education Prerequisites

Explore the career requirements for auto mechanics. Get the facts about educational requirements, job duties, salary and job outlook to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Automobile Repair degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is An Auto Mechanic?

Auto mechanics perform tasks related to the maintenance and repair of cars, light trucks and motor vehicles. They perform routine maintenance, such as changing the oil, checking fluids and rotating tires. Auto mechanics also run diagnostic tests to determine the source of a problem when a vehicle isn't functioning properly. They may replace worn-out parts, such as brakes and brake pads, or conduct more extensive repairs on a vehicle as needed. Auto mechanics may also perform safety inspections to ensure that a vehicle meets state safety requirements.

The table below contains important details about becoming an auto mechanic.

Degree Required Certificate or associate's degree; high school training programs available
Education Field of Study Automotive service technology
Key Duties Maintenance and repair on auto vehicles using computerized equipment and manual tools
Certification Available Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification available
Job Growth (2014-2024) 5% for automotive service technicians and mechanics*
Average Salary (2015) $40,720 for automotive service technicians and mechanics*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What Are the Job Duties of an Auto Mechanic?

As an auto mechanic, you perform maintenance and repair work on vehicles using high-tech diagnostic equipment, computer technology and hand and power tools. You may be proficient in one area or many areas of automotive system repair, including part replacement, transmission work or brake repair. The work environment is often loud, and you must take care to follow safety procedures in order to avoid injuries on the job.

What Is My Career Outlook?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job growth for auto mechanics was expected to occur at a rate of five percent during the 2014-2024 decade (www.bls.gov). This rate was below the average expected growth for all jobs. However, with appropriate training, you are likely to find jobs readily available due to retirement of workers and the difficulty in finding employees with the correct skills.

Auto mechanics often operate their own businesses or are employed by automotive repair garages. Changes in automotive technology, including hybrid engines and alternative fuel technologies, will require auto mechanics to stay up-to-date on the latest industry trends. Additionally, specialized training and certification may lead to increased salary potential. In 2015, the BLS reported auto mechanics earned an average salary of $40,720 per year.

What Skills Do I Need?

You are likely to have the best career options if you complete a training program for automotive service technology offered through a trade or vocational school. These programs usually award a certificate of completion or an associate's degree to graduates. Certification is also offered by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (NIASE) and leads to the ASE credential (www.ase.com).

Some high school training programs, nationally certified by NIASE, provide instruction to aspiring auto mechanics. In addition to automotive repair coursework, classes in math, computers and English are helpful. Some programs also teach management skills and help students with job placement.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Small engine mechanics, heavy vehicle service technicians and diesel service technicians and mechanics all perform tasks that are comparable to those of an auto mechanic. Small engine mechanics work on engines in smaller vehicles like ATVs and power equipment like lawn mowers, while heavy vehicle service technicians focus on more powerful vehicles, like tractors and equipment used in farming or railway transportation. Diesel service technicians and mechanics perform the same tasks as auto mechanics, but focus exclusively on buses, trucks and other vehicles with diesel engines.

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