How Long Does It Take To Become a Mechanic? (With Required Skills)

Updated June 24, 2022

Mechanics use their technical skills and training to repair vehicles of all shapes and sizes with accuracy and efficiency. This field is ideal for individuals who enjoy working with their hands, completing tasks and solving problems on a daily basis. Mechanics need at least a high school diploma or GED to find jobs in the industry, but there are many different ways and time frames for gaining the necessary experience and skills. In this article, we discuss how long it takes to become a mechanic, explain what a mechanic does and the various skills mechanics need to be successful in the field.

What is a mechanic?

A mechanic uses advanced technical skills to troubleshoot, diagnose and fix problems with vehicles and other machinery. Depending on their chosen area of expertise, mechanics might work with vehicles of all kinds or focus on specific parts of vehicles, such as air conditioning, transmissions or brakes. Common job responsibilities for mechanics include:

  • Operating diagnostic equipment to identify mechanical or electrical problems with a vehicle

  • Checking, updating and repairing each vehicle's computer and electronic system

  • Conducting routine maintenance work on a vehicle (lubricating parts or changing fluid)

  • Evaluating the condition and safety of each repair

  • Providing accurate estimates for a repair or maintenance job by considering time, resources and cost

  • Discussing repair costs and plans with customers

  • Scheduling future maintenance sessions with customers and answering their questions

  • Keeping records on the work completed for each customer

  • Making sure all tools and equipment are functional, safe and in good condition

To complete these tasks successfully, mechanics need to be able to stand for long periods of time and physically kneel, bend or twist while working with vehicles. They also need to be able to lift and move heavy parts. Most mechanics work in repair shops, while some might travel to remote locations to work on engines.

Related: Automotive Mechanic Resume Samples

How long does it take to become a mechanic?

The time it takes to become a mechanic depends on the type of training you want to pursue. To work as a mechanic, you need to earn a high school diploma or GED and enroll in a training program or vocational school. Some mechanics complete vocational programs in high school and can begin working in trainee positions right after graduation, while others may spend one or more years completing their training post-high school. It can take a mechanic two to five years to gain the education and skills necessary for success.

Most employers expect mechanics to earn at least one certification through The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) before working full time. However, many mechanics earn several certifications in various specialties as they advance in their professional careers. The ASE offers nine certifications:

  • Automatic transmission/transaxle

  • Brakes

  • Engine repair

  • Heating and air conditioning

  • Suspension and steering

  • Light vehicle diesel engines

  • Engine performance

  • Electrical/electronic systems

  • Manual drive train and axles

To earn an ASE certification, you need to complete at least two years of related experience to show you have in-depth knowledge of the necessary techniques and processes. Related education can serve as a substitute for one year of on-the-job training, and you can also complete specific ASE courses and practice tests to prepare.

Related: How To Become A Mechanic

What is the job outlook for a mechanic?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the job outlook for automotive service technicians and mechanics is expected to decline by 4% from 2019 to 2029. Demand for mechanics varies by state, with some higher than the national average. The job outlook for mechanics also varies by industry, with some specialties being in higher demand than others.

There are a few common specialties or areas of expertise you may want to explore to increase your employability, including:

  • Motorcycle mechanic

  • "Big rig" or diesel mechanic

  • Recreational vehicle (RV) mechanic

  • Farm equipment mechanic

  • Aircraft mechanic

  • Heavy-duty mechanic (cranes, bulldozers and boom lifts)

  • Boat mechanic

  • Small engine mechanic

  • Tire mechanic

  • Bicycle mechanic

  • Air conditioning mechanic

Related: How Much Do Mechanics Make?

How do I know if I want to become a mechanic?

If you enjoy manual labor and problem-solving, becoming a mechanic may be the right career path for you. Mechanics spend a lot of time taking apart machinery to find errors and using critical-thinking skills to find the right solution, so you may like this career if you're analytical.

Here are a few questions to help you determine whether becoming a mechanic is the right choice for you:

  • Do you enjoy technology or electronics?

  • Do you feel accomplished or satisfied after solving a problem or completing a specific task?

  • Are you interested in new design developments in the automotive industry?

  • Do you like working with your hands?

  • Are you generally curious about how things work?

  • Do you enjoy solving puzzles or testing various solutions to problems?

  • Do you prefer to stay active while working?

If so, you may want to explore the industry further and consider becoming a mechanic in the future.

What skills does a mechanic need?

Mechanics need the following skills to be successful in the industry:

  • Communication: Mechanics need excellent communication skills to talk to customers about vehicle issues, repairs and costs. For example, a customer may ask for recommendations about what's best for their vehicle or ask questions about how repairs were completed.

  • Diagnostic and problem-solving: Mechanics need to know how to use diagnostic skills to determine what's wrong with a vehicle. They also need strong problem-solving skills to accurately determine the cause of an issue and the most effective way to fix it.

  • Attention to detail: Mechanics need attention to detail while on the job to make repairs with precision and accuracy.

  • Organization: Mechanics need strong organizational skills to complete projects on time, manage multiple projects at once and document repairs for future reference.

  • Physical ability: Mechanics need to be able to physically move around while interacting with vehicles. They often have to stand for long periods of time, squat, bend and twist to make repairs.

  • Administrative skills: In many cases, mechanics need administrative skills to schedule appointments, keep track of tools and equipment and answer phones.

  • Proficiency with tools and equipment: Mechanics need to know how to properly utilize tools and equipment so they can do their work with speed and confidence.

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