How to Become a Auto Mechanic

Becoming an auto mechanic requires a lot of training and experience. Auto mechanics are a large part of the transportation service industry. They’re qualified tradespeople, working with a large variety of vehicles in a very demanding sector.

This is a career type which is seriously underestimated by the public image of the work. Auto mechanics have a very high degree of job mobility, like any trade. The old image of the traditional pit job work is misleading. Auto mechanics can achieve major career progression, running their own businesses, or in some cases, owning franchises.

Training and education

The preparatory stage for formal traineeships in auto mechanic training begins early, at high school level as part of the Automotive Youth Education Service (AYES) program. Training in electronics, auto repair, physics, chemistry, English, mathematics and computers are also considered valuable introductory training for auto technicians.

Formal training at a trades or technical college is the next phase, including classroom and practical work. This training achieves an Associate Degree level of qualification through these colleges, which is the required entry level qualification to training within the industry. Some manufacturers and auto dealerships provide sponsored training for selected employees.

Basic practical training begins with comparatively simple supervised work progressing in systematic stages, for example:

  • Lubrication
  • Basic repairs and servicing
  • Use of machine tools
  • Welding and flame cutting
  • Diagnostic testing (computerized analysis of faults and  component testing)
  • Progressive training and experience in specific areas like engine elements, gears, brakes, transmission, exhausts, etc.

Full qualification to US National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification level takes 2-5 years. This qualification is the preferred industry standard level of certification, and is a major career benchmark for auto repair mechanics. Other forms of certification include repair certificates from colleges.

Certification of motor vehicle repair business employees is required by US state law as part of licensing requirements. Trainees must have trainee permits.

Types of auto mechanic jobs

After basic training, many auto mechanics specialize in particular areas of the trade, including:

  • Electronics
  • Air conditioning
  • Specific systems like transmissions, engines, etc.
  • Onboard computer systems like steering, GPS, accident avoidance systems
  • Safety systems (mechanical)
  • Brand proprietary servicing

Career dynamics

Career development in this field can be a mix of practical considerations related to experience, ongoing training and qualifications in the trade, and business qualifications.

Career progression is not necessarily simple or straightforward in auto repair. This is an industry in which reliability and experience are major elements in job mobility and any on the job career advancement is based on performance.

At the professional level, qualifications and specializations are a natural means of career advancement, opening up more job options. Ongoing training is also an important part of career progression, due to the steadily increasing number of new systems and technology incorporated into vehicles of all kinds.