How to Become an Auto Mechanic:
The Definitive Guide


I’m going to give you all the little tidbits of information you need to become an auto mechanic.

Don’t worry, it shouldn’t take long.

Do you like working on vehicles?

Find yourself daydreaming about motors, mufflers, and spark plugs?

No…?

Me either…

But, if you’re really intrigued by the inner-workings of cars and trucks, then let’s explore the ins and outs of becoming a mechanic.

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What is an Auto Mechanic?

Well, simply put, it’s someone who inspects, maintains, and works on vehicles.

It sounds simple, but a mechanic needs to understand the underbelly of individual models of vehicles, and in this day and age, they also need to be on track with technology and computers.

Training and education that relate to the inner workings of automobiles is of utmost importance for mechanics.

You don’t have to just work in a body shop either, mechanics can travel all over to help people with their vehicles.

Duties

Let’s discuss some things you’ll be required to do as a mechanic:

  • Repair and maintain vehicles
  • Create maintenance plans for individual vehicles
  • Deal with electrical issues
  • Keep notes on each machines history

Auto Mechanic Salary

A mechanic can expect to earn a median of $34,040 annually.

Those highly skilled in the mechanics trade can earn upwards of $44,685 annually.

There are many factors that can affect a mechanic’s salary, the amount of training acquired, the skill of the mechanic, as well as experience are all factors in how much salary is made annually.

The more experience you have, the easier it is to make more money.

A supervisor or manager at an auto body shop is going to make more money than the typical employee.

Plus, when you’re trained in all different types of vehicles, you’ll have a larger customer base, which means more salary as well.

Now, let’s get down to business and talk about what you have to do in order to become a mechanic.

Average National Salary: $38,000

$34K
$36K
$38K
$40K
$44K
10%
25%
50%
75%
90%
*Salary information last updated 2019

Average Annual Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
Alabama$35,445
Alaska$42,924
Arizona$37,063
Arkansas$35,254
California$42,367
Colorado$37,965
Connecticut$42,306
Delaware$41,348
Florida$36,482
Georgia$36,558
Hawaii$40,258
Idaho$35,845
Illinois$37,696
Indiana$36,391
Iowa$35,523
Kansas$36,708
Kentucky$35,314
Louisiana$35,862
Maine$36,640
Maryland$40,824
Massachusetts$41,633
Michigan$37,533
Minnesota$37,215
Mississippi$34,211
Missouri$37,398
Montana$34,352
Nebraska$35,156
Nevada$39,005
New Hampshire$40,024
New Jersey$43,678
New Mexico$35,088
New York$40,413
North Carolina$36,492
North Dakota$35,011
Ohio$36,991
Oklahoma$35,536
Oregon$38,218
Pennsylvania$37,793
Rhode Island$41,083
South Carolina$36,121
South Dakota$33,116
Tennessee$35,241
Texas$36,567
Utah$35,897
Vermont$38,461
Virginia$38,012
Washington$40,106
West Virginia$35,251
Wisconsin$37,237
Wyoming$35,210

Annual Average Salary: Top 5 States

The top earning state in the field is New Jersey, where the average salary is $43,678

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

New Jersey - $43,678
Alaska - $42,924
California - $42,367
Connecticut - $42,306
Massachusetts - $41,633

How to Become an Auto Mechanic

Step 1Find Your Passion

Do you want to work on semi-trucks or just your every day vehicles?

Deciding on where to begin is your ultimate first step.

Once you figure that out, then you can start to educate yourself.

Step 2Get Schooled

First and foremost, you’ll need a high school diploma or GED.

 Got one? Perfect!

Look around your area for trade schools, or even on the job training that can lead you to an incredible career as a mechanic.

There are also some community colleges that will allow you to get an associate degree in automatic service technology.

The more specialized the work, the more intense the training, but it’s obvious that you can do it.

Step 3Get Certified

After you get your training in, and learn the ropes of the trade, you’ll have to get certified in order to work in a body shop or start your own business.

The National Institute for Automotive Excellence is the typical certification route for mechanics.

You’ll be able to get certified in auto mechanics, including engine restoration, heating and air-conditioning, electrical structures, brake systems, and steering.

Step 4Don't Quit

Receiving more and more education on the subject of mechanics is never a bad thing, keep up with the times, technology is always changing, so you’ll have to as well.

If you want to go big, try and get certified in all areas, so that you can become a master mechanic.


Education

The associate degree in Automotive Service Technology is what you will receive after two years of schooling.

You’ll receive courses in your typical mechanics classes, but you’ll also learn about business management so that you can eventually run your own shop one day.

Here is a rundown of the types of courses you may have to take:

Advanced Transmission Diagnostics

In this course you’ll learn about transmissions and transaxles.

You’ll understand hydraulic and electrical testing procedures, and mechanical testing procedures.

Automotive Mechanics Technology

This class will explore how mechanics and automobiles have changed throughout history.

You’ll also learn about advancements in technology that may change how you do your job in the future.

Automotive Service Management

In this class, you’ll learn about the business side of things.

You’ll gain knowledge in how to handle human resource problems, financial situations, customer services and much more.

Alternative Fuel and Hybrid Vehicles

Here, you’ll learn about electric cars, hybrid vehicles, and how to handle these types of repairs.

Video About The Career


Certification & Licensing

We talked a little bit about the certification process, but let’s dive a little deeper.

The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence is a non-profit organization that has worked since 1972 to improve to quality of repair work done to vehicles.

The ASE helps mechanics by certifying and testing them on their abilities.

In order to be certified through the ASE, you’ll need to have two years of on the job training, as well as a passing grade on the ASC Certification test.

The tests are challenging, so it’s not just a pop in and do type of test.

It requires studying, motivation, and lots of hands on experience.

Don’t get discouraged!

Curious about what to expect during the day of test?

In order to take the test at a testing area near you, you’ll need a photo ID, books, calculator and materials to reference.

Unlike the typical tests you take, this one’s a bit more secure.

When you go to take your test, the instructors will ask you to life your pant legs, empty your pockets, and you’ll also be screened with a hand-held detector.

This is to ensure that there’s no cheating!

When you receive your test, you’ll see that it’s in multiple choice form.

This is to help test you on your specific knowledge, and the best part is that you will know if you passed the test before you leave the facility.

Each test is timed, so be aware of how much time you are allocating for each question, if you are having issues, flag the question and come back.

Best of luck!

Certification Example:

auto mechanic certification

Average Training Program Duration: 1-3 Years

Typically, school takes around 2 years to complete.

The certification takes a couple of hours, but most importantly, the training lasts a lifetime!

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Job Outlook

The job outlook for mechanics will continue to rise within the next 10 year.

The number of vehicles in use seems to be on the rise as well, which means more mechanics are needed.

Entry level service positions are necessary, especially for basic maintenance and repair.

Though, new technology may limit future demands for the job.

Whether you gain your knowledge through education or experience, both types of mechanics are needed on a daily basis.

There will likely be many job openings at dealerships and independent repair shops.

Employment Growth Projection: 6%

749,900
2016
795,800
2026

That's a higher than average projected growth of 45,900 jobs.

Auto Mechanic: Interest Over Time


Should You Become an Auto Mechanic?

Overall Satisfaction

Overall Satisfaction: Medium

It seems that the overall satisfaction of working as a mechanic is average.

There are opportunities to advance in the career, but the work schedule can be daunting.

Though, it seems that mechanics have a low level of stress to deal with on a day to day basis.

It seems that it may be easier to work with cars than it is people, so mechanics may have it made!

Average Salary

Average Salary: Medium

Okay, so, depending on the type of job that you get, your salary could differ, but it seems that the average salary for a mechanic is roughly $40,000 a year.

There are five cities in the US that have the highest paid mechanics, those cities are:

Fairbanks, Alaska- at almost $59,000 annually. Surprisingly, this is the highest paying state!

San Francisco, California- $57,000 annually.

Anchorage, Alaska- $56,000- are you as shocked as I am that Alaska pays their mechanics so well?

There aren’t as many jobs, which means the ones that they do have are going to be more lucrative.

California, Maryland- $55,000 annually

Ann Arbor, Michigan- $55,000 annually

Job Growth Outlook

Job Growth Outlook: High

The growth for a mechanic looks great, the estimated growth by the year 2026 should be around 6%.

The job opportunities look very pleasing now and for the future.

Education Duration

Education Duration: 1-3 Years

You’ll need a high school diploma or a GED.

Then you can either go to a trade school or get your associate through a community college.

Lastly, don’t forget you’ll need on the job training, no one wants a mechanic that has never touched a vehicle!

Personal Skills Needed

Personal Skills Needed

 

  • Knowledge about vehicles
  • Repair techniques
  • Body work knowledge
  • Customer service skills
  • Diagnostic skills
  • Up to date technology know-how
  • Good work ethic
  • Problem solving skills


Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How long do you have to go to school to become an auto mechanic?

In order to be an auto mechanic, you will have to go to school for roughly two years.

Training programs at community college, and even technical schools last around 2 years.

The best part is that at the end of those two years, you will have an associate degree.

Of course, you can always go ahead and get more education and become a master mechanic, who is certified in every aspect of automobile maintenance.

Q. How much money does an auto mechanic make a year?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the average salary is around $40,000.

Depending on your education level, training level, and experience, you can make more.

Often, you will find that mechanics make around $19 an hour.

This all depends on where you live, too, more vehicles mean more customers.

If you live in a highly populated area, there is a chance you’ll make more money than someone who lives in a rural area.

Q. What kind of education do you need to be an auto mechanic?

First, you’ll need to get your high school diploma or a GED.

Then, you’ll have to apply for a trade school or a training program at a community college.

Once you complete the required in-school education, you’ll need on the job training.

Typically, you’ll spend two years in school, but the on the job training is up to you.

The more training you have, the better the outcome for your business.

Q. Are auto mechanics in high demand?

More than ever!

We rely on our vehicles every day, and we need dependable cars and trucks to get us from point A to point B.

The changes in the way cars are made, means that there is a larger demand for skilled auto technicians and mechanics.

That means you’ll be able to find jobs quite easily, as the supply is lower than the demand right now.

Q. What skills do you need to have to be an auto mechanic?

Oh boy, where do we begin…

You’d think all you really need to know is how to work on cars, but there’s so much more to being a great mechanic.

You need:

  • Great customer service skills
  • Problem solving skills
  • Technology awareness and aptitude
  • Sold work ethic
  • Your own tools
  • Leadership skills
  • Certification
  • Great diagnostic skills
  • Experience
  • Resourcefulness

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