What Are Some Career Options for a Mechanic?

Technological complexities of modern machinery require mechanics to have specialized knowledge and skills for inspection, diagnosis, maintenance and repair. Mechanics are necessary in many fields. Read on to learn more about the career options available to mechanics. Schools offering Automobile Repair degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Mechanics Overview

In general, mechanics inspect, repair and maintain mechanical systems. Mechanics are generally trained in a specific field so they can have the knowledge necessary to diagnose and fix issues. Mechanics may receive training at a community or vocational college, or may learn on the job. Depending on the industry, mechanics may need to be licensed or certified in order to operate. Below are some of the career options available to people wanting to become mechanics.

Important Facts About Mechanic Career Options

Automobile Mechanic Aircraft Mechanic HVACR Mechanic
Median Salary (2014) $37,120 $56,990 $44,630
Key Skills Attention to detail; manual dexterity; physical strength and stamina; troubleshooting ability Physical strength and agility; keen observation; attention to detail; manual dexterity Solid math foundation; physical strength and stamina; time management; attention to detail
Work Environment Automobile dealers; automotive mechanical and electrical repair and maintenance; automotive parts, accessories, and tire stores Support activities for air transportation; scheduled air transportation; aerospace product and part manufacturing Plumbing, heating, and air contractors industry; self-employed
Similar Occupations Automotive body and glass repairers; diesel service technicians and mechanics Aerospace engineering and operations technicians; electricians; mechanical engineering technicians Boilermakers; sheet metal workers; solar photovoltaic installers

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Automobile Mechanic

Automobile mechanics are trained to inspect, repair and maintain automobiles, trucks and other vehicles. They work with gasoline-, diesel- or electric-powered vehicles, as well as those driven by alternative fuels. Many automobile mechanics are knowledgeable in a variety of makes, components and systems. Others elect to specialize in certain car models or systems. Some specialized job titles for auto mechanics include:

  • Front-end mechanic
  • Brake specialist
  • Transmission specialist

Diesel service mechanics repair diesel cars and larger vehicles with diesel engines, such as buses and trucks. Diesel service mechanics may also work on farm equipment, construction equipment and even trains.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job prospects for automotive service technicians and mechanics are expected to increase by 5% between 2014 and 2024. Job prospects for diesel engine specialists and bus and truck mechanics are expected to increase by the 12% in the same time period.

Motorcycle Mechanic

Motorcycle mechanics, or small engine mechanics, diagnose, service and repair the systems and components of motorcycles and other small vehicles. They usually work on vehicles weighing less than 1,000 pounds. Just like an automobile mechanic, they ask the customer questions and conduct inspections to identify problems and malfunctions and then make the necessary repairs.

Many motorcycle mechanics gain their training working on the job with experienced technicians. Other motorcycle mechanics complete one of many formal certificate and apprenticeship programs. Small engine mechanics may also work on watercraft, all-terrain vehicles and lawn equipment. According to the BLS, job opportunities for motorcycle mechanics are expected to increase by 6% between 2014 and 2024. Job prospects will be better for applicants with postsecondary training.

Aircraft Mechanic

Aircraft mechanics are responsible for maintaining planes and keeping them operating in a safe and efficient manner. They have the knowledge and skills to service, repair, overhaul and test various aircraft. To work for most airlines and aviation companies, aircraft mechanics must possess an airframe and powerplant (A&P) certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) or be supervised by a certified A&P mechanic who checks all their work. Aircraft mechanics may pursue jobs in one of the following specialties:

  • Airframe and powerplant (A&P) mechanics work on systems and parts of the aircraft, including the wings, fuselage, brakes, tail assembly, oil tanks and fuel tanks.
  • Inspection authorized (IA) mechanics are responsible for inspecting aircraft for needed repairs or checking out recent repairs. After performing an inspection or necessary repairs, IA mechanics decide if an aircraft is fit to be utilized.
  • Avionics technicians specialize in the electronic systems of aircraft, and repair and maintain systems such as radio communications and radar.

The BLS predicts that job positions for aircraft mechanics and service technicians will increase by 1% between 2014 and 2024. Those with A&P certification and knowledge of current technologies and computer systems will have an advantage over other applicants.

HVACR Mechanics

Heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVACR) mechanics install, service and maintain climate control systems in buildings. HVACR mechanics focus on either installation or maintenance, generally, and may focus on a specialty area, such as solar panels or commercial refrigeration. While some employers will hire HVACR mechanics that have completed an apprenticeship, most prefer to hire employees with postsecondary training, such as a certificate or an associate's degree. Apprenticeship programs are run through national societies, such as the Air Conditioning Contractors of America or the Mechanical Contractors Association of America.

Certifications are available from a number of organizations. In addition, some states require that HVACR mechanics be licensed. Licensure generally requires the passing of an exam, though other requirements may vary. HVACR mechanics who work with refrigerants must be certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The BLS predicts a growth of 14% in job opportunities for HVACR mechanics and installers. This is due to the increased use of advanced air conditioning and heating systems as well as an increase in construction of homes and businesses.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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