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Career Roadmap to Become an Auto Mechanic

If you have an inclination towards engines, you can follow your interests by becoming an Auto Mechanic. Gone are the days of ‘shade tree mechanics’ who didn’t have formal training to carry out auto repairs for small sums. In today’s world, with advanced technology and computerized automobile parts, having in-depth training is a must to become a successful auto technician.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 770,100 auto mechanics jobs in 2018, and this number is expected to stay more or less the same till 2028. Further, according to the latest trends in the auto-repair industry, the retirement of a significant number of shop technicians can create a shortage of trained auto technicians. It can result in considerable demand for trained auto mechanics.

What Are the Responsibilities and Tasks of an Auto Mechanic?

Auto mechanics are expected to possess a strong knowledge of individual automotive parts and how they work together. They might work with vehicles from cars and light trucks to large construction vehicles based on their areas of expertise. They should be able to use power tools and diagnostic software to diagnose the issues with engines that rely heavily on computers. 

Besides this, they should be able to explain the issues and possible resolution to their customers in layman terms for easy understanding. Some of them might work with specific vehicle parts such as transmission, brakes, or air-conditioning. A growing number of technicians are also needed to work on electric vehicles and vehicles that use alternative fuels like ethanol.

Here’s a list of primary responsibilities of an auto mechanic:

  • Discuss and explain automotive problems and repairs to vehicle operators or car owners 
  • Discover faults, listen to engines, fit and operate special test equipment and test drive vehicles, use computerized diagnostic equipment to identify and resolve problems 
  • Plan work procedures, using technical manuals, charts, and experience
  • Repair or replace worn and faulty parts such as brake pads, wheel bearings, and sensors
  • Remove and dismantle assemblies such as engines, transmissions, and check parts, while referring to manuals when required
  • Perform repairs based on customer and manufacturer specifications
  • Reassemble, clean, test, and adjust replaced or repaired parts or assemblies and use various instruments to ensure they are working properly
  • Follow checklists for ensuring that all critical parts are examined
  • Carry out minor trim repairs and minor body repairs
  • Diagnose, repair, and replace fuel injection and engine management components
  • Test and repair electrical systems such as lighting, ignition, and electronic fuel injection
  • Inspect vehicles and issue roadworthiness certificates or list the work required before issuing a certificate
  • Perform primary care and scheduled maintenance services, such as lubrication, oil changes, rotating tires, and engine tune-ups

What Are the Job Prospects for Auto Mechanic?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2019, the median annual salary of automotive technicians and mechanics was $42,090, with the highest 10 percent earning more than $68,880. The data suggests that employment opportunities for this career option are expected to stay almost the same from 2018 to 2028, with high prospects for qualified jobseekers.

Becoming an auto mechanic can open a wide range of career choices for you, from a machine technician, mechanic, operator to a collision repair technician. They are in great demand in various industries, including manufacturing, hospitality, government, and fire departments. Following are some of the career options you can explore – 

  • Automotive Service Technician
  • Auto clutch specialists
  • Automotive tire specialists
  • Automotive fuel systems converters
  • Auto fuel injection servicers
  • Automotive specialty technicians
  • Automotive alignment specialists
  • Auto radiator specialists
  • Automotive brake specialists
  • Automotive air-conditioning technicians
  • Auto Transmission Specialists
  • Auto Suspension and Steering Mechanics
  • Operation Supervisor
  • Parts Manager
  • Collision Repair Technician
  • Tow Truck Driver
  • Quality Control Inspector

You can earn higher wages with advanced education as an automotive technician, obtaining specialization in auto maintenance and repair, and increasing your network by becoming an active participant in your home state or regional association.

How to Become an Auto Mechanic?

Following 5 steps can help you become an auto mechanic – 

  • Obtain a high school diploma or GED, which is a prerequisite for a certificate or degree program enrollment. In some areas, the Automotive Youth Education Services (AYES) program is available to high school students that combines basic high school education with academic and hands-on training in automotive technology. 
  • Enroll to earn an associate’s degree or certificates of completion in automotive service technology. Vocational schools, community colleges, and auto manufacturers offer such programs that consist of courses in hands-on automotive repair, electronics, computers, English, and Math.
  • Obtain a certificate from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). This organization provides certification across 8 specialties, including steering, brake systems, electrical structures, heating and air-conditioning, and engine restoration.
  • Receive employer training for mechanics that lasts for a couple of months that will allow you to work with expert technicians and help you work independently and as a part of a team.
  • Get certified in all eight automotive specialties offered by the ASE to become a master technician.

Benefits of Enrolling in an Automotive Course

  • It helps you as a stepping stone with a good foundation in understanding the principles behind automotive systems, internal combustion machines, relevant tools, and the best safety practices.
  • A college degree showcases your efforts in learning the fundamentals of the automotive industry. It helps to prove your readiness for more sophisticated training or eligibility to be hired as an apprentice and increases your chances of employment.
  • It teaches you the technology needed to repair today’s more sophisticated automobiles and helps you to be an all-rounder technician, than just an auto mechanic.
  • It trains and prepares you to pursue important certifications like the Automotive Service Excellence series of exams.
  • Besides the technical expertise, these courses help you improve your communication skills, which are critical for dealing with employers and customers.
  • It provides you an ideal environment to become proficient in your vocation without the fierce pressure present at the workplace. A well-equipped auto tech lab offers you the best setting for learning.
  • These courses familiarize students with various opportunities in the automotive field that can help you decide your specialization area. It can also provide networking opportunities with prospective employers.

Programs to Become an Auto Mechanic

A degree in automotive technology is vital for developing critical skills and having valuable hands-on experience in the field.

Associate’s Degree in Automotive Technology

This 2-year program primarily focuses on introductory education on maintenance, repair, suspension, transmission, and more with hands-on learning. 

Bachelor’s Degree in Automotive Technology

The four-year program covers everything leaned during the associate degree and more. While an associate degree and certification are sufficient to begin work, the Bachelor’s degree prepares you for management and leadership opportunities. 

Master’s Degree in Automotive Technology

If you wish to develop expertise in specific concentrations and specialties, you can opt for a Master’s degree in Automotive Technology.

Automotive Technology Certification

The certification program length varies between 6 months to 2 years. These certifications help supplement with an associate degree and can help you get entry-level positions in the automotive industry.

Degrees in automotive technology open a multitude of career options with varying expertise. 

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