Mechanic: Career Profile, Job Outlook and Education Requirements

A mechanic, also known as an automotive service technician, spends his or her day inspecting, diagnosing, repairing and maintaining cars and trucks. Mechanics may be trained during high school or may go on to complete a certificate from a community college or vocational school. Schools offering Automobile Repair degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

Mechanics have a number of options for receiving training, many of which lead to certifications that can increase career opportunities and earning potential. Mechanics provide a vital service in identifying and repairing problems and in maintaining motor vehicles.

TrainingVocational Training, ASE Certificate Programs and Associate's Degrees
CareerVehicle Repair and Maintenance
Job Outlook (2016-2026)*6% (automotive service technicians and mechanics)
Median Salary (2017)*$39,550 (automotive service technicians and mechanics)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Education Do I Need?

Mechanics can be trained on the job or they may complete high school programs and enter the workforce right out of school. Employers prefer that mechanics complete a vocational training program or earn a community college certificate. There are also programs available for mechanics to earn an associate's degree at community colleges.

ASE certification is available in nine different segments of service. For each, mechanics must have two years of working experience and pass a certification examination. The ASE Master Automobile Technician certification requires mechanics to be certified in all nine segments.

What Will My Career Involve?

When an automobile is having problems, a mechanic uses computers and other diagnostic equipment to pinpoint the part that is malfunctioning. From there, the mechanic repairs the problem using a variety of tools, including hand tools, pneumatic tools, jacks or hoists, and even welding and cutting tools. Mechanics also perform routine maintenance work on cars and trucks, such as oil changes, tune-ups, and tire rotations. To perform these tasks, you should have the following skills and qualities:

  • Mechanical
  • Troubleshooting
  • Customer service
  • Organization
  • Physical strength
  • Dexterity
  • Attention to detail

What Salary Will I Earn?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates that employment opportunities for automotive service technicians and mechanics will increase six percent between 2016 and 2026, a rate consistent with the average predicted for all occupations. In 2016, there were a reported 749,900 automotive service technicians and mechanics employed in the United States. Many of these mechanics worked in dealerships. Opportunities for growth are best for mechanics who have earned ASE certification. The median annual earnings for mechanics in May of 2017 were published as $39,550 by the BLS.

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