Auto mechanics have an important part in society by maintaining and repairing the vehicles we depend on to complete daily tasks and safely arrive at our destinations. They are highly skilled individuals who are often interested in the mechanical and electronic systems of vehicles, working with their hands and providing thoughtful customer service. A career as an auto mechanic may be an exciting and fulfilling choice for those interested in this field, even if they have little or no related experience.
In this article, we talk about the responsibilities and skills of auto mechanics, why you might want to become an auto mechanic with no experience and offer a step-by-step guide to help you become an auto mechanic.
What is an auto mechanic?
Auto mechanics diagnose and repair parts and systems of cars, trucks and possibly other motorized vehicles such as motorcycles and ATV's. They may repair systems such as air conditioning and heating, brakes, emissions and steering mechanisms using a variety of specialty power tools, hand tools and techniques. They often work closely with customers to diagnose and address parts and systems needing repair and provide guidance for maintenance of vehicles.
Related: Auto Mechanic Resume Samples
What does an auto mechanic do?
The daily responsibilities of an auto mechanic vary depending on their specialty, level of experience and employer. Common duties may include:
- Inspect vehicle engines
- Inspect electrical and mechanical systems
- Accurately and efficiently diagnose mechanical, structural and electrical issues
- Conduct regular maintenance work such as tire replacement, oil changes and replacing fluids
- Recommend and schedule future maintenance sessions as needed
- Advise customers on safe and sustainable vehicle uses and maintenance
- Maintain working condition of tools and equipment
- Build lasting relationships with clients
- Ensure safe operating condition of brakes, airbags and steering systems
- Perform cosmetic and functional restoration of vehicles
Auto mechanic skills
Successful auto mechanics often have a combination of the following skills:
- Excellent knowledge of mechanical and electronic elements of a vehicle
- Advanced knowledge of the tools needed to perform various repair and maintenance tasks
- Critical thinking and problem-solving skills
- Advanced interpersonal and communication skills
- Aptitude for mathematics and science
- Excellent multi-tasking abilities
- Understanding of vehicle diagnostic methods
- Able to lift heavy objects and stand for extended periods of time
- Ability to work independently or as part of a team
Related: How Much Do Auto Mechanics Make?
Why become an auto mechanic with no experience?
There are several benefits of pursuing a career as an auto mechanic with no experience, including:
Salary and benefits
According to Indeed Salaries, the national average salary of auto mechanics is $53,087 per year and many employers often offer benefits such as tool reimbursement; health, dental and vision insurance; paid time off; holidays and accrued sick leave.
Low education cost
The education requirements for auto mechanics rarely involve undergraduate or graduate degrees, which keeps the investment of education and training to a minimal for this profession. With low education costs, auto mechanics may not need to take out student loans and can receive training without accruing debt.
Auto repair knowledge
Working as an auto mechanic may give you valuable knowledge and expertise on the mechanical and electronic systems of cars and motor vehicles. You may apply this knowledge and save money on future repairs by performing routine maintenance, diagnostics, repairs and restorations to your own vehicles.
Flexibility and advancement opportunities
A career as an auto mechanic may offer flexibility in your daily routine and provide opportunities for advancement. You may choose to advance in rank within an auto repair shop or vehicle dealership, start your own auto mechanic business or apply your industry knowledge to other areas of vehicle maintenance and repair, such as collector cars, racing vehicles, interior detailing or vintage automobile restoration.
Dynamic work environment
The work environment of auto mechanics is dynamic, with tasks and responsibilities varying by the day and ample opportunity for social interaction. Each day may present a new repair, interesting customer request or exciting restoration. Additionally, auto mechanics may choose to work in a variety of settings, such as repair shops, car dealerships, automobile museums, racing institutions or within their own business.
How to become an auto mechanic with no experience
Follow these steps to successfully secure employment as an auto mechanic, even if you have no experience:
1. Complete your high school education
Typically, auto mechanics hold a high school diploma or GED. In some areas of the country, high schools may offer classes through the Automotive Youth Education Services (AYES) program. You may take these classes in addition to regular high school curriculum for training in electronics, mechanics and auto engineering for valuable training that may be useful to aspiring auto mechanics.
2. Enroll in a training program or apprenticeship
After completing your regular education and any AYES courses, consider enrolling in a training program to receive an associate's degree or certification of completion in a mechanics program. You may find these programs at technical colleges, vocational schools or automobile manufacturers. These programs typically offer hands-on training in mechanics, electronics, mathematics, science and computer literacy.
You may also seek training as an auto mechanic through an apprenticeship at local auto repair shops. These positions are usually available to individuals with a high school diploma or GED and varying levels of mechanical knowledge, such as AYES courses or independent study. Employers may also require drug screenings, background checks and that you provide your own tools. During your apprenticeship, an experienced mechanic will provide you with the education, guidance and training needed to pursue a career in this field.
3. Obtain certification
The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) offers eight certifications in specialty areas such as engine restoration, brake systems, electrical structures, heating and cooling maintenance and steering systems. ASE is open to aspiring auto mechanics with high school diplomas or GED's and relevant work experience. A certification through ASE is usually the industry standard for auto mechanics and provides valuable knowledge that may help you fulfill the additional licensing requirements of your state.
4. Receive state licensing
Licensing requirements for auto mechanics vary by state, so it's important to research these requirements and ensure you can fulfill them while pursuing a career in this field. Consider studying your state's requirements with an online search to determine whether you'll need additional licensing. Some states, like Florida, Texas and New Jersey, don't have any licensing requirements for auto mechanics. Other states may require licensing for general mechanical work or for specialty areas, such as heating and cooling systems or motorcycle repair.
If you're planning on starting your own auto mechanic shop or charging for private repair services, you'll also need a business permit to operate legally in your state.
5. Build your experience
Once you've received the certification and licensing needed to work as an auto mechanic, consider seeking employment in a reputable auto mechanic shop, dealership or other vehicle repair business to build your professional experience. You may find open auto mechanic positions through professional connections made during your apprenticeship, education or training, in classified ads or online through job search sites.
6. Become a master technician
Individuals who complete all eight areas of certification with ASE receive the title of master technician. Pursuing this title could help you expand your areas of expertise, learn new trade specialties, add value to your resume as an auto mechanic and allow you to make more money in this profession. Master technicians may able to complete a wider range of repair jobs, charge more for their services and receive more hourly pay than individuals without this title.
Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.