8 Education Requirements for Mechanics
Updated March 10, 2023
The auto mechanic position is a highly specialized trade that requires you to develop special skills to understand complex vehicle systems and be able to identify and fix any issues. Because of this necessary degree of specialization, it's important to understand the exact education requirements you need to find a job. In this article, we discuss more about what an auto mechanic is and the educational requirements for you to complete to become an auto mechanic.
What is an auto mechanic?
An auto mechanic is someone who works with various types of transportation vehicles, such as automobiles or trucks. An auto mechanic may perform general repairs or maintenance or vehicles. However, others may have a specialty. Some specialties for auto mechanics include engines, brakes, tires or automobile technology or computers.
Auto mechanics have a variety of responsibilities. Examples of tasks for auto mechanics include:
Using power tools and heavy machinery to repair vehicles
Examining and diagnosing a variety of issues
Troubleshooting vehicle systems
Working with vehicle computers and software
Restoring and maintaining vehicles
Updating maintenance and repair records
Inspecting and testing vehicles
Auto mechanics may work in different settings, such as auto body shops, garages or car dealerships. Their responsibilities may vary based on where they work. For example, some mechanics may have more specialized roles at bigger dealerships, whereas other mechanics may complete many tasks when they work at smaller repair shops.
An auto mechanic's workplace may also affect their salary. Many auto mechanics receive payment at an hourly rate. The national average base salary for an auto mechanic is $20.76 per hour.
Read more: Learn About Being an Auto Mechanic
Auto mechanic education requirements
Here are some educational requirements and certifications to complete for you to become an auto mechanic:
High school diploma or GED
A high school diploma is the minimum requirement to become an auto mechanic. It's important for you to have basic knowledge of mathematics, reading and writing. Some high schools also offer technical education courses. Consider enrolling in auto mechanic courses if they are available.
You may also become an auto mechanic if you have a GED. Earning your GED requires you to complete the General Education Development Test. This exam consists of four individual tests about mathematical reasoning, reasoning through the language arts, science and social studies. Receiving your GED requires you to pass all four tests with a score of at least 145 out of 200 on each test.
Many employers want auto mechanics to have an associate degree or similar certification. Earning this often requires you to complete a two-year program. You may earn this from a community college, vocational school or similar institution. If you choose to earn an associate degree, consider focusing on automotive repair, automotive technology or a related field.
Many of these vocational education programs include a combination of classroom and hands-on learning. The goal of these programs is to provide you with the skills you need to diagnose and repair a variety of vehicle-related problems. Your coursework may cover subjects like:
Hands-on automotive repairs
Steering and suspension
Automotive service management
Hybrid and alternative-fueled vehicles
Internship or apprenticeship
Once you earn your degree, it's important for you to gain more hands-on experience. You may complete an internship or apprenticeship under the supervision of an experienced certified mechanic. Your apprenticeship or internship may take place at a dealership or general garage, and the length of your program may vary. Some programs take a few years to complete, but this helps you better improve your skills and learn new techniques.
Earning an Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification is an important step in becoming an auto mechanic. This certification is an industry-standard way to test and prove your skills as a mechanic. Many employers prefer mechanics to have an ASE certification before they hire them. This ensures they hire mechanics with verified expertise.
The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence offers 10 entry-level automobile ASE certification areas. These areas are:
Suspension and steering
Manual drive train and axles
Maintenance and light repair
Heating and air conditioning
Automobile service technology
Most employers only require you to have at least one. However, if you earn all ten, you can earn an ASE Master Certification. The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence also offers entry-level certifications in collision repair and refinish and medium/heavy trucks you may consider later in your career.
Specialty certifications are important for auto mechanics hoping to enhance their skills or work in a specific niche. The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence offers many of these certifications, but you may have other options to earn them. Examples of specialty certifications to consider include:
Collision repair and refinish
Damage analysis and estimating
Auto maintenance and light repair
Advanced engine performance specialist
Light duty hybrid/electric vehicle specialist
Under-car specialist exhaust systems
Automobile service consultant
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates air conditioning repairs in the United States. Auto mechanics who work with air conditioning units also earn special certification from the EPA. Some employers will provide this training for their employees, but you may also earn it on your own.
Some car manufacturers offer certifications to allow you to build your skills related to their specific vehicles, engines or parts. Many leading automotive companies offer these certifications. While any auto mechanic may earn these certifications, it may be especially important for you if you're working at a specialty repair shop or dealership. Each of these certifications has different requirements, such as completing a specific number of hours working on these vehicles or passing tests.
Automotive technology constantly evolves. This requires auto mechanics to complete continuing education courses to stay updated with the latest technology and techniques. You may also consider continuing education courses to find a specialty or develop new skills.
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