How to Become a Mechanic in 2021

June 25, 2020

Do you love cars? Does the idea of assembling parts and tinkering with machinery excite you? Then a career in automotive service may be for you! Read on for information about what it takes to become an automotive mechanic. We’ll explain what the job entails, what kind of education it requires, salary expectations, job outlook and more!

Related article – What is Automotive Technology

What do Automotive Mechanics Do?

what do automotive mechanics do

Automotive mechanics performs maintenance, diagnostic testing, repairs and inspections of cars and light trucks. These individuals are also responsible for making sure the vehicles they service are roadworthy and help their clients avoid major repairs down the road. Other job duties include:

  • Maintain customer service skills and communicate with vehicle owners to better understand the problems their vehicle is experiencing and what kind of repairs it might require
  • Examine various vehicle systems to diagnose problems
  • Remove and replace old parts that are not functioning properly
  • Perform routine maintenance including tire rotation, oil changes, monitor heating and air conditioning system and more
  • Pitch optional repair and preventative maintenance when appropriate
  • Keep detailed records of all work performed

Auto mechanics may choose to specialize in a variety of areas, including brake repairs, air-conditioning (which requires knowledge of government regulations), transmissions, front-end mechanics and more.

working on a car

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts there will be 763,600 auto mechanics working within the United States by 2028. The organization asserts the job outlook should be “very good” for qualified applicants.

What Kind of Education is Needed to Become An Automotive Mechanic?

The first step to becoming an automotive mechanic begins with a high school diploma or GED, as a strong knowledge base in math is essential. Some high schools offer introductory courses on how to become an auto mechanic and emerging automotive technologies. A trade school will offer even more advanced opportunities in these areas.

High school students can go on to earn an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree in automotive technology at any number of community colleges across the country. This process will take roughly two years to complete and include both classroom learning and hands-on teaching.

START YOUR AUTOMOTIVE CAREER

Earn your degree in Automotive Technology from NEIT and begin your new career path today!

ASSOCIATE'S DEGREE

BACHELOR'S DEGREE

Some programs offer the opportunity to apply for an apprenticeship, where individuals will receive the job training and experience needed to become certified in the field.

The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) is a widely recognized organization dedicated to improving the quality of vehicle repair and service.

Their programs and training cover subjects like brakes, engine repair, heating and air conditioning, manual drive drive and axles, suspension, steering, electrical systems, engine performance, light vehicle diesel engines and automatic transition.

They outline over 40 categories of certification for automotive service technicians. Some of the most popular certification tests focus on subjects like:

  • Automobile & Light Truck
  • Collision Repair & Refinish
  • Damage Analysis & Estimating
  • Automobile Service Consultant
  • Truck Equipment
  • Alternate Fuels
  • Auto Maintenance and Light Repair
  • Transit Bus

In addition to passing the test, individuals must have a certain amount of work experience before becoming ASE certified. You may claim experience in one or more of the following areas:

  • Repair Technician – 1, 2, or 3 years
  • Parts Specialist – 2 years
  • Collision Damage Estimator – 2 years
  • Service Consultant – 2 years

Testing is available 12 months a year at secure, proctored test centers. You can select your testing dates and times and find test results online.

Technicians who pass multiple tests can earn an ASE Master Mechanic Certificate in one or more subjects. An ASE Master Technician must recertify every five years to maintain their master status. You find out more information on their test series here. You can also check out this guide to find a school in auto-mechanical engineering near you.

What Kinds of Job Conditions Do Auto Mechanics Face?

Service technicians will have to become familiar with a variety of tools to complete necessary tasks. This requires a willingness to learn and the ability to adapt to new tools and technologies. Often, mechanics will be asked to handle grease-covered auto parts and lift heavy objects. They will also have to be on their feet during work hours, which means a certain level of physical fitness is necessary.

Dexterity is also an important part of the job. Working with engines means handling small parts. Good hand-eye coordination, as well as a steady hand, is essential, especially when working in small or tight spaces.

Troubleshooting abilities and close attention to detail are two important qualities for auto mechanics to possess. This will allow them to identify problems and repair solutions in short periods of time, allowing them to avoid lengthy investigations.

Mechanics must also familiarize themselves with car jargon and industry verbiage. They must also be able to translate this into terms their customers can understand.

Auto mechanics may work in car dealerships, auto repair shops or even opt for self-employment. They may be expected to work on weekends, holidays and put in overtime.

What is the Difference Between An Automotive Mechanic and an Automotive Technician?

As mentioned above, a career as an automotive mechanic largely revolves around maintenance, diagnostic testing, repairs and inspections of a variety of car parts. Depending on one’s specialization, that could apply to standard automobiles, sports cars, vans, light trucks, large construction vehicles and more.

Automotive technicians, on the other hand, are specifically trained to work with computer systems and like equipment to discover problems in the air. Members of the field will have developed skills related to engine construction, fuel and ignition, brakes, power trains, electronic and diagnostic equipment and more.

Advancements in the field will likely revolve around predictive automotive technology. By this, we mean ways to integrate artificial intelligence and machine learning into the driving experience.

Other high-tech introductions include autonomous vehicles, or self-driving cars, vehicle-to-vehicle communication, biometric seat technology for more secure access, automatic high-beam control, backup cameras, smart home integration, child safety technology and more.

Get all details here about auto mechanic vs automotive technician

Automotive Technology: Job Opportunities and Careers

female mechanic

An ASE certification can introduce you to a number of different careers across the automotive industry, from diesel and collision repair to machine operator, auto technician and much more. Check out some more opportunities for automotive mechanics below:

  • Automotive Service Technician
  • Collision Repair Technician
  • Generation Technician
  • Heavy Equipment Mechanic
  • Light Wheel Mechanic
  • Trailer Mechanic
  • Shop Mechanic
  • Shop Foreman
  • Parts Manager
  • Quality Control Inspector
  • Operation Supervisor
  • Tow Truck Driver

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, industries with the highest levels of employment for automotive mechanics include:

  • Automobile Dealers
  • Automotive Repair and Maintenance
  • Automotive Parts, Accessories and Tire Stores
  • Gasoline Stations
  • Local Government (excluding schools and hospitals)

States with the highest levels of employment and job growth for automotive mechanics and automotive technicians include:

  • California
  • Texas
  • Florida
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania

States with the highest concentration of jobs across the automotive and repair industry include:

  • Main
  • West Virginia
  • Montana
  • South Carolina
  • Rhode Island

The top-paying states for automotive service technicians include:

  • District of Columbia: $61,350 annual mean wage
  • Alaska: $53,110 annual mean wage
  • New Jersey: $50,960 annual mean wage
  • Connecticut: $50,860 annual mean wage
  • California: $50,230 annual mean wage

The top-paying industries for automotive mechanics include:

  • Natural Gas Distribution
  • Aerospace Product and Parks Manufacturing
  • Pipeline Transportation of Natural Gas
  • Couriers and Express Delivery Services
  • Electric Power Generation, Transmission and Distribution

Other fields related to a degree in automotive technology include:

  • Automotive Repair
  • Automotive Mechanics
  • Avionics Maintenance
  • Diesel Mechanics
  • Electromechanical Engineering Technology
  • Hydraulics & Fluid Power Technology
  • Mechanical Engineering Technology

Similar Occupations Include:

  • Aircraft and Avionics Equipment Mechanics and Technicians
  • Automotive Body and Glass Repairers
  • Diesel Service Technicians and Mechanics
  • Heavy Vehicle and Mobile Equipment Service Technicians
  • Small Engine Mechanics

The following industries are often in need of the services an automotive technician provides, including regular service and maintenance:

  • Manufacturing
  • Government
  • Hospitality
  • Fire Departments

Individuals can expect to land an entry-level position following their post-secondary education. These opportunities will introduce them to the formal training needed before pursuing more advanced positions. Aspiring auto mechanics can work as an assistant, helper or trainee at a car dealership, repair shop, auto shops and more.

Pursue Your Degree at The New England Institute of Technology

NEIT has been rated among the best institutions to receive a degree in automotive mechanics and technology. We offer four automotive associate degree programs: Automotive Technology and Advanced Automotive Technology, Automotive Technology with High Performance and Advanced Automotive Technology with High Performance.

START YOUR AUTOMOTIVE CAREER

Earn your degree in Automotive Technology from NEIT and begin your new career path today!

ASSOCIATE'S DEGREE

BACHELOR'S DEGREE

Though all our programs cover the same core topics, the Advanced Automotive Technology degrees include more in-depth study.

These curriculums revolve around the theory of operation and service techniques attached to the systems and system components of today’s automobiles. Students will also receive training in engine construction and design, engine repair, electricity, electronics, suspension, steering, brakes, transmissions, fuel systems, ignition systems, and emission controls.

Advanced training in air conditioning, drive trains, and transaxles are offered as well. We also provide a final engine performance course, which covers computerized engine controls, fuel injection systems, tailpipe emissions diagnosis, and ABS braking systems.

NEIT uses the latest industry standards, up-to-date diagnostic equipment, and Automotive Service Excellence approved curriculum in its training program. Our campus is home to several technical training and research centers, including the National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium. We also offer internships and practical experience to provide students with a more seamless transition into the workforce.

We participate in the Mopar Career Automotive Program (CAP) LOCAL curriculum, designed and developed by Fiat Chrysler Automotive (FCA) Performance Institute. The curriculum includes a variety of self-study web-based and instructor-led courses. The first phase of the program introduces the basics of automotive technology, from new vehicle prep, FCA online systems and the use of diagnostic scan tools. The second phase covers more complex topics to prepare students for entry-to-industry-level positions across the field.

NEIT’s Automotive Technology program is Master-Certified by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF).

Apply to our automotive program and graduate in less than 2 years.