What Does an Auto Mechanic Do? (With Duties and Salary)

Updated March 3, 2023

A worker pushes a blue tool trolley.

Mechanics or automotive service technicians work in the automotive industry and help repair and service vehicles. There are certain job training and education requirements that are necessary for prospective candidates to complete before they can begin working at auto repair shops and dealerships. Understanding how to become a mechanic and what these requirements are can help you better prepare for this career. 

In this article, we explain what an auto mechanic does, describe how to become one in six steps and share this career's skills, work environment and salary. 

Related: 9 Pros and Cons of Being an Auto Mechanic (Plus Definition)

What does an auto mechanic do?

An auto mechanic performs repairs and orders diagnostic tests on vehicles such as cars, vans and small trucks. Some perform maintenance on heavy vehicles, while others specialize in off-road vehicles or parts such as engines, tires and brakes. An auto mechanic's responsibilities include:

  • Performing routine vehicle maintenance, including part lubrication and fluid changes

  • Checking each vehicle's computer and electronic system and repairing or updating it if necessary

  • Rotating or changing tires

  • Providing accurate price quotes for work, including the cost of parts and labor

  • Keeping comprehensive records of the work completed for each customer

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

  • Repairing and updating issues identified by the vehicle's computer system 

  • Communicating vital information to customers, such as what repairs or maintenance their car requires and providing them with an estimated time frame to make the approved changes

  • Ordering new parts or tools, if necessary

Related: 12 Types of Mechanic Roles To Consider and Their Job Duties

How to become a mechanic

To become a successful auto mechanic, you need several practical skills, along with a certain level of education and specialized training. Here are the six steps you can take if you want to become a certified mechanic and work in most auto repair businesses:

1. Graduate with a high school diploma

A high school diploma or equivalent is the basic educational requirement for auto mechanic work. While you may spend most of your time working on vehicles, it's important that you have a basic knowledge of reading, writing and mathematics so you can perform your duties effectively. You also need this level of education before you can pursue any further training or certification. While you're in school, consider searching for opportunities to gain some repair shop experience.

2. Enroll in vocational education

Search for vocational school programs or for local community colleges that offer associate degree programs to become better prepared to work in the automotive service industry. These programs can offer you additional training and help you develop the experience required to begin applying for apprenticeships in the field. They can also train you on changing technologies and new repair techniques, allowing you to become better prepared for more complex automotive work. 

3. Apply for an apprenticeship

Once you gain some experience or complete your vocational education, you can apply for an apprenticeship. Most auto repair businesses offer apprenticeships to qualified candidates who hope to work independently in a full-time role as a mechanic. Some companies require at least a year of experience or training, while others don't have specific requirements. 

Mechanic apprenticeships typically take two years to complete, and some companies hire mechanics immediately after they complete their apprenticeship program. Many support their professional development by offering varying apprentice levels. After working for two years as an apprentice, you can begin taking your qualification exams and earning relevant certifications. 

Related: How Does an Apprenticeship Work? (Plus Other FAQs)

4. Earn your ASE certification

Most auto mechanic jobs require Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification. ASE certification tests address most aspects of auto repair, and there are 58 available tests grouped into different series, such as Automobile and Light Truck Certification and Transit Bus Certification tests. Choose one of the test series they offer and take all required tests. Upon successful completion of a test series, you can receive your ASE certification. 

If you complete a certain set of series, you can receive a Master Technician certification. Car manufacturers may also offer training and certification for auto mechanics who want to gain detailed knowledge on how to repair a specific manufacturer's vehicle. To earn manufacturer-specific certifications, you typically need a certain number of hours of experience working on that manufacturer's vehicles.

Related: 16 Types of Ase Mechanic Certifications To Pursue

5. Receive job training

Once a business hires you, take advantage of any offered training. Successful mechanics develop a broad understanding of many aspects of car repair. Not only can job training make you a better auto mechanic, but it may also increase your earning potential. If you work at a car dealership, your employer may provide you with specialized training for that manufacturer's vehicles. This may prove useful as you create your resume and develop more specialized skills as an auto mechanic. You can expect to work in training for a few years before earning a promotion. 

Related: 6 Steps To Become an Auto Mechanic With No Experience

6. Become a master mechanic

Since ASE certification is the industry standard, the ASE-certified Master Technician qualification can be highly desirable. To be an ASE-certified Master Technician, it's necessary to complete a specified number of test series. To retain the Master Technician status, it's crucial that you keep each of your individual certifications current. Be sure to research the latest industry trends regularly to ensure that your knowledge is as up-to-date as possible. 

Automotive Mechanic Resume Examples

Malik Rabb
Tucson, AZ | 520-555-0127 | mrabb@email.com
Automotive Mechanic with a knack for problem-solving and three years of experience in welding and rebuilding engines and transmissions, in addition to performing overall maintenance, such as oil changes, brake repairs, wheel alignments and tire rotations.
Green Valley State
TradeLot, Automotive Mechanic
Jul '19 - Current
  • Assisted with carrying out 10 inspections according to cleanliness, safety, health and environmental regulations
  • Performed over 100 oil changes in compliance with proper disposal protocols
  • Turned over 100 rotors
  • Repaired brakes for 20 different client accounts
Cloud Clearwater, Automotive Mechanic
Aug '15 - Jul '19
  • Rebuilt five classic transmissions according to current safety and environmental regulations
  • Managed inventory log in Excel
  • Operated front desk, handled intake and payment for an average of 50 daily clients, educating them on required vehicle repairs
  • OSHA General Industry Safety and Health
  • Hand tools
  • Maintenance

Required skills to become a mechanic 

To succeed as an auto mechanic, you need both practical and relational skills. These include:

  • Physical strength and coordination: To work as a mechanic, it's necessary that you be physically strong, mobile and in good overall health, as you may regularly spend time lifting heavy parts, working with complex tools and assembling objects. The physical nature of the profession also requires excellent coordination, as you may work with small parts like screws and bolts. 

  • Diagnostic and problem-solving skills: It's necessary for mechanics to know how to use diagnostic tools to determine the issues a vehicle is having. These skills allow you to determine the underlying cause of an issue and develop the most effective solution to fix it quickly. 

  • Proficiency with tools and equipment: Auto mechanics work with a wide range of tools, including computerized diagnostic equipment. It's important that you know what each tool does and that you understand how to use it correctly to complete your work with confidence.

  • Customer service skills: While most of their work involves vehicles, mechanics may still interact with customers on occasion to explain their vehicle's issues accurately. With good customer service skills, you can help ease customers' concerns by communicating vital information such as what type of car maintenance is required, what the estimated cost is and how long the repair is likely to take.

  • Good communication skills: These skills enable mechanics to write reports, answer the telephone, respond to email and text messages and perform other necessary office tasks. They may also work on a team with other mechanics, requiring them to communicate effectively to work together to complete the necessary repairs. 

Read more: Mechanic Skills: Definition and Examples

Mechanic work environment

As an auto mechanic, you can expect to spend most of your day working with power tools and other equipment that has specific safety rules to repair vehicle air-conditioning units, brake systems, steering functions and a variety of other systems. Auto mechanics generally work full-time hours and frequently work overtime and weekends as needed. After completing formal training, you can work at auto repair shops, dealerships, gasoline stations and tire stores. 

Related: Learn About Being a Mechanic

Average salary of a mechanic

Mechanics typically earn a national average salary of $62,856 per year, but several factors can influence your overall pay as a mechanic. Some of the factors include your location, your skill level, the certifications you possess, and the type of vehicles you work on each day. Some workplaces pay hourly based on the number of vehicles you repair, while others pay a flat daily rate. You can ask about the pay structure during the interview to clarify how and when you can expect your earnings.

For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the link provided.

Related: 11 of the Highest-Paying Mechanic Jobs Available


Related Articles

ASE Certification: Meaning, Importance and Requirements

Explore more articles

  • Learn About Being a Personal Trainer
  • Learn About Being an HR Generalist
  • What Does a Process Engineer Do? (With Job Requirements)
  • Learn About Being a High School Teacher
  • Learn About Being a Nurse Anesthetist
  • What Does a Marketing Assistant Do? (With Job Description)
  • Learn About Being a Medical Office Assistant
  • Learn About Being a Plant Manager
  • Learn About Being a Dental Assistant
  • Learn About Being a Miner
  • Nurse Manager: What They Do, Skills and Job Requirements
  • What Does a Patient Care Technician Do? (Plus Career Path)