How Do I Become an Auto Mechanic?

There are well over 700,000 auto mechanics in the United States, and this number is projected to grow strongly. Becoming an auto mechanic involves basic automotive education, work experience, certification and, eventually, training to renew your skills. We'll take a look at the stages you can expect to go through after choosing a career in this field. Schools offering Automobile Repair degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Becoming an Auto Mechanic

Becoming a successful auto mechanic can be the start of an enduring career. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says automotive service is a growing industry with high demand for skilled workers. Data from the BLS indicates the field will add close to 46,000 jobs between 2016 and 2026 for a 6% projected growth. Developing your skills as an auto mechanic can be a 3-step process.

Required Education High school diploma or equivalent
Work Environment Repair shop, garage
On-the-Job Training Training provided to complement more formal instruction; training in lieu of education possible
Similar Occupations Glass repairer, diesel service technician
Median Salary (2018) $40,710 per year

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Initial Education

Auto mechanics almost always have some education before going to work in the field. Formal training, either in Automotive Youth Education Service (AYES) high school classes or in studies after graduation, is a must. Depending on the particular field you want to work in, a certificate or associate's degree can also be useful. For example, if you're seeking a career in auto body repair, heating and air conditioning systems or engine performance, you may benefit from a degree or certificate.

Work Experience

Once you have some education to serve as a base for your career, the next step is work experience. Automotive apprentices assist mechanics in completing routine maintenance tasks, diagnosing broken cars and handling minor accounting duties. The skills you learn can be essential as you advance in your career. The BLS suggests that becoming qualified as an independent auto mechanic can take 2-5 years.

Certification and Continued Training

Auto mechanics are part of a field that's constantly changing, since each new model brings new potential issues you'll have to be qualified to fix. Certification by an organization like the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) or the Inter-industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair (I-CAR) is not just a way of demonstrating your aptitude. While not mandatory for employment, it's a virtual requirement for advancing in the ranks of auto mechanics. ASE certification must be renewed every five years. Some mechanics may attend extra classes to learn new skills or improve their technique.

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