Mechanics are the people who make sure that all of the moving parts in a car work together properly. People in this field often find that they love their jobs and enjoy the ability to help people with something that they are passionate about. Some mechanics start their careers after high school, while others are self-taught and have a lifelong passion for cars. This career requires people who are willing to work hard and have good problem-solving skills.
The first step to becoming a car mechanic is getting the right education. High school is the minimum requirement, but some vocational schools offer programs that combine a high school diploma with specialized courses for mechanics. These programs give students a broad knowledge of the different components in an automobile and how to fix them. They also provide training on how to use modern diagnostic tools and reference materials. Besides gaining the technical know-how, these programs can also prepare a student for professional certification tests.
Some mechanics get their inspiration from a family member who works in the industry or from a hobby they have. Others may have watched their parents or siblings fixing cars and developed a love for it themselves as they got older. Whatever the reason, people who want to be mechanics need to have a lot of patience and perseverance, as this is not an easy job. They must be willing to work on cars that are not running well and spend a lot of time reading manuals and doing other research to figure out what is wrong with the vehicle.
In recent years, cars have become much more complicated to design and repair. Most automobile dealerships and independent workshops now use diagnostic computers to help the auto professionals identify problems. Mechanics must be able to understand how these computers work, as well as how to read and interpret the results. Paper-based service manuals are less common now that most mechanics have laptops that allow them to access a wide variety of information and technical manuals instantly.
As the demand for these specialized automotive technicians increases, there has been a surge in the number of people who want to learn how to do the job. In addition to vocational schools, some community colleges are also offering certificate programs to train people for this profession. These programs can be as short as one year and include classroom instruction, hands-on laboratory exercises and internships at local repair shops. The programs can also prepare a student for professional exams like the National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).
After completing a mechanical program, some mechanics choose to work for new-car dealers, while others prefer working for tire and parts chains such as Pep Boys or Midas. These types of shops typically hire between 60 percent and 70 percent of graduates. Those who prefer to be self-employed can opt for opening their own repair shop. They must be able to manage their finances and maintain their shop according to state regulations.