How to Become a
Mechanic

Man working with a wrench at a workshop

Do you like cars, enjoy working with your hands and don't mind getting dirty? Then you might be successful in a career as a Mechanic. Read on to get more information about the skills, education and training required to start working in this field.

What Does a Mechanic Do?

From performing basic engine maintenance to troubleshooting and repairing extensive automotive problems, Mechanics are responsible for ensuring that all types of vehicles are in running condition. Some Mechanics might only work on specific engine parts, such as transmissions or brakes, while others perform more routine tasks such as changing oil and completing tune-ups. Mechanics, also called automobile technicians or automobile service technicians, might work in privately -owned repair shops or for automobile dealerships. Some might be self-employed and operate their own garages.

Mechanics should have strong analytical skills and knowledge of tools and diagnostic machines. Common Mechanic duties and responsibilities include:

  • Technical tasks, such as running diagnostic tests on engines and making repairs to various systems

  • Customer service tasks, such as explaining issues to car owners and detailing repair costs

  • Clerical tasks, such as writing up repair estimates and invoices

Mechanic Skills

Besides a strong ability to work with their hands and knowledge of various types of hand and electronic tools, Mechanics should possess above-average problem solving, analytical and organizational skills. They should be able to work independently, with little or no supervision, and have strong verbal communication skills as they will often need to explain problems and resolutions to customers.

Other key Mechanic skills include:

  • Math proficiency

  • Good vision and hearing, in order to assess engine noises and inspect vehicle fluids

  • Computer literacy, such as entering customer and vehicle information into a database

How Do You Become a Mechanic?

Education and Training

After consulting various online job postings, we have concluded that most employers require applicants for Mechanic positions to hold a high school diploma or equivalent. Some might require that job candidates have completed at least a one-year program in automotive repair or automotive service technology at a technical school. Fewer still might ask that job applicants hold an associate's degree.

Vocational or technical school programs often offer a mix of classroom and hands-on training. Students might pursue certificates in specific systems, such as transmissions or air conditioning. Associate degree programs, available from technical or community colleges, provide the same hands-on training opportunities while also offering classes in mathematics and communications. Some degree programs also offer certificate options in such areas as braking or electrical systems. In addition, training classes are often sponsored by automobile manufactures and dealerships. Candidates who have not completed certificate or associate degree programs might start off as helpers or trainees and work under an experienced Mechanic.

Certification for Mechanics is offered through the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). Those working with refrigerants, such as those used in air conditioning system, are required to obtain certification. Voluntary certifications are available in various areas, such as diesel engines, alternate fuels, damage analysis and collision repair. Mechanics seeking this professional certification must have two years of experience. Those with less than two years on the job must possess a two-year degree to qualify for certification exams. To maintain certification, Mechanics must re-take the exam every five years to reflect their knowledge of changing technologies in the field.

Finding a job

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment growth rate for Mechanics is expected to be 5 percent over the 2014-2024 time period. New and more efficient technologies could negatively impact this growth rate, the BLS says. Those who have completed certificate or degree programs and hold ASE certification are most likely to find success when seeking a job as a Mechanic.

When conducting a Mechanic job search, it is crucial that you have a quality resume. Our library of Mechanic resume samples provide you with a good idea of how to construct an effective resume.

Once your resume is ready, search online for Mechanic job opportunities. Draw on your network of professionals you might have met while gaining experience through an internship or attending a training program.

The first step in applying for a Mechanic position might be to supply a cover letter. A strong cover letter should present your interest in working in this field as well as outlining your qualifications and possible contributions you can make to this position. If you are looking for assistance in developing an effective cover letter, refer to our cover letter samples for guidance.

Insights from a Mechanic

Scroll down to find out some more in-depth information about the everyday life of a mechanic.

What is the common career path for a Mechanic?

The most common career path for a mechanic is to obtain a High School Diploma or GED and then attend a vocational program or qualified institution that provides associate degrees in automotive technologies. These programs should have classes in their curriculum like electronics, hands-on automotive repair, computer, and terminology. Next, you should be on your way to obtain a certification from The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) which provides a variety of specialized programs in whichever area you are most interested.

What should someone consider before becoming a Mechanic?

While you're working you will never be clean. Work schedules may vary and equipment is pretty expensive if you are planning on having your own shop. Most of the time you will be bent over or tightening screws or carrying heavy objects, so you need to be in good physical condition.

What type of person excels in this job?

Responsible people who are passionate about machines and fixing them are likely to succeed in this career. Detail-oriented and problem-solving thinkers have the tools to be great Mechanics.

What are some of the most important skills for Mechanics to have?

Excellent diagnostic skills, work ethic, technical aptitude, and resourcefulness.

What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of being a Mechanic?

The most rewarding aspect of being a mechanic is job stability. The need for mechanics can almost be compared to that of a medical doctor. Obviously, it takes far less money to become a mechanic so less student debt and the return on investment very good indeed.

How Much Do Mechanics Get Paid?

Mechanics in the United States are paid a median hourly wage of $18.20. The lowest hourly wage for Mechanics is $10.11 and the highest hourly wage is $30.45.

Top 10 States for Mechanic Salary

Mechanics in the following states make the highest median hourly wage in the U.S.

    District of Columbia

    $29.35

    Alaska

    $25.29

    New Jersey

    $22.65

    Massachusetts

    $22.09

    Maryland

    $21.75

    California

    $21.61

    Washington

    $21.57

    New Hampshire

    $21.51

    Colorado

    $21.09

    Wyoming

    $20.97

    Mechanic Resources

    We have assembled the following resources to help you learn more about being a Mechanic. This information can help to determine if this a career you would choose to pursue.

    On the Web

    Mechanics Hub
    Focusing on diesel mechanics, this website offers articles, videos and forums providing tips and networking for Mechanics.

    The Humble Mechanic
    A blog providing a personal look at what it is like to be a Mechanic. Contains tips, podcasts and other insights.

    Popular Mechanics
    The Cars section of this online publication contains articles that might be of interest to Mechanics, such as automotive trends and emerging technologies.

    Industry Groups

    Auto Care Association
    An organization consisting of manufacturers, repair shops, distributors and other businesses, this association provides networking and educational opportunities as well as conferences and seminars for those in the auto industry, including Mechanics.

    The Alliance of Automotive Service Providers (AASP)
    A national association offering Mechanics and other professionals training, continuing education and conferences.

    International Automotive Technicians Network (IATN)
    Mechanics who join this organization will find networking opportunities through forums and live chats.

    Mechanics Books

    A Career as an Auto Mechanic (Essential Careers)
    A detailed overview of what it takes to be a Mechanic, from education to training requirements. Includes information about careers available in the field and what types of engines Mechanics typically work on.