How to Become a Mechanic
Interested in starting up a career in the automotive service industry? Fuel up on the basics of what it takes.
From commuting to moving commercial goods, many people need to get from point A to point B almost every single day. Learn how to become a mechanic, and you’ll keep the wheels turning for these individuals and businesses.
It’s not a matter of if things suddenly go wrong—it’s when. An employee can't make it to work due to a broken tire rod, or a commercial truck driver can't deliver goods due to sudden engine failure, or a packed elevator gets stuck on the third floor. Then what? That’s where you come in.
Read below to learn about the skill set and education it takes to successfully land your first mechanic job.
What Is a Mechanic?
A mechanic is a professional who possesses hands-on knowledge of automobile, truck, and aircraft parts. Mechanics are trained on how to operate hand tools, diagnostic tools, and other equipment used to perform maintenance and repairs. They have working knowledge of engines, braking and steering systems, wheels, and other key components to vehicles.
As cars become more advanced, there is a growing demand for mechanics who have knowledge of computer systems.
What Do Mechanics Do?
When a mechanic comes to mind, most people envision someone in decked out in Dickies gear smeared with grease. While this may be true, there is more than meets the eye. A successful mechanic employs both mechanical and analytical skills when performing inspections, maintenance, and repairs.
Mechanics utilize computerized diagnostic equipment to identify defects and make necessary repairs. They perform routine maintenance such as:
- oil changes
- tire rotations
- brake pad replacements
- fluid changes
Additionally, they use checklists, charts, and technical manuals to ensure that they leave no stone unturned.
There are generally three types of mechanics:
- Automotive technician: Auto techs specializes in repairing, maintaining, and inspecting cars and small trucks.
- A&P mechanic: An aircraft and powerplant (A&P) mechanic specializes in working on aircraft such as private jets and commercial airplanes. Most of the work performed by A&P is preventative maintenance.
- Diesel mechanic: Diesel mechanics possess knowledge of complex diesel engines. They usually specialize in maintaining and repairing commercial motor vehicles, buses, utility vehicles, and construction vehicles.
Where Do Mechanics Work?
Mechanic jobs exist in a wide range of facilities, from small garages to larger service shops. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most mechanics work for:
- Automobile dealers – 33%
- Automotive repair shops – 27%
- Themselves (self-employed) – 13%
- Automotive parts, accessories, and tire shops – 8%
Mechanic jobs aren’t limited to the above-mentioned subsectors. Some mechanics work for trucking companies, transportation companies (both commercial and municipal), local government, and the military.
See Monster’s automobile technician/ mechanic job description sample to get an idea of what employers look for when hiring mechanics.
How to Become a Mechanic
Many high schools offer automotive training, but employers usually prefer to hire fully qualified mechanics. That’s because there is no room for error when making critical repairs to a vehicle.
To become fully qualified, you will need to obtain auto mechanic certification through a postsecondary program at a community college, vocational institute, or trade school. Having a background in high school mathematics and computer and electronics skills can help prepare you for postsecondary training. Additionally, you must have keen attention to detail.
Auto mechanic school typically takes six months to a year to complete. If you’re pursuing an associate’s degree from a technical college, it generally takes two years.
Diesel mechanic or aviation mechanic school can take up to two years to complete. You may be able to obtain certification in a short-term, specialized subjects such as tire maintenance or brake repair.
Check out these technical institutes and colleges that offer mechanics programs, as well as scholarships that can help put a dent in your tuition costs.
Want to learn how to become a mechanic but need to maintain a flexible schedule? No problem. You have the option of attending auto mechanic school online. Many online programs cover automotive diagnosis, maintenance, and repair.
If you decide not to take the formal educational route, you may want to consider a work study opportunity with a car dealership. Here are three of them:
- Ford's ASSET Program
- Daimler Chrysler College Automotive Program
- General Motors Automotive Service Educational Program
How Much Do Mechanics Make?
According to Monster data, an auto mechanic salary is $19.89 per hour. Yearly salaries fluctuate depending on where auto mechanics worked. For example, according to the BLS, the median auto mechanic salary was:
- $45,710 at automobile dealers
- $39,820 at auto repair shops
- $36,180 at automotive parts, accessories, and tire shops
How Much do Diesel Mechanics Make?
The median diesel mechanic salary is $48,500 per year or $23.32 per hour, according to the BLS. Yearly salaries differed by industry. For example, the median diesel mechanic salary by subsector was:
- $57,940 at local government agencies
- $49,940 at wholesale trade companies
- $46,320 at automotive repair and maintenance shops
- $44,970 at truck transportation companies
You can look up the average salary for mechanics in your location by using the Monster Salary Guide.
How to Find Mechanic Jobs
From individuals to commercial enterprises, every vehicle owner needs a skilled mechanic to keep them on the go. If you have a knack for repairing and maintaining vehicles, then you might be just the person for the job.
To beat the competition, you’ll need to show employers that you have the hands-on skills they’re looking for. To learn how to pitch yourself to employers, be sure to read our auto mechanic resume sample and mechanic cover letter sample.
The top five metro areas with the highest level of mechanic employment include:
We’ll Give You the Tools to Land Your First Mechanic Job
So now that you know how to become a mechanic, are you ready to get your hands dirty? Monster can help you on the road to employment. Join for free to upload your resume, get job notifications, and receive tips on how to get hired. Our goal is to steer you toward a job that is the right fit for you.