Car Mechanic: Educational Requirements for Being a Mechanic
Car mechanics are responsible for servicing and repairing automobiles. Mechanics work on brakes, engines, ignition control units and other parts of cars to ensure that they are functioning properly and safely. Some car mechanics also work on non-essential automotive aspects, such as air conditioners or radios.
Educational Requirements for Car Mechanics
Aspiring car mechanics may choose from several educational paths to gain the knowledge and skills to enter the field. For example, high school students may gain introductory knowledge through auto shop or mechanics courses. Completing these courses may provide students with enough education to enter the work force. However, below are more advanced education options for interested candidates.
Specialized High School Training
Some schools have Automotive Youth Educational System (AYES) programs that provide advanced training in automobile service and repair to high school students. Certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), these programs offer courses in topics that include electronics systems and diagnostic software. Graduates are qualified to become entry-level car mechanics.
College Certificate and Associate's Degree Programs
Those who do not have access to automobile training in secondary school may consider enrolling in a certificate or associate's degree program after graduating high school. Offered by junior colleges and technical schools, these programs generally last 6-24 months and cover topics ranging from wheel alignments to fuel systems. Aside from in-class instruction, students also receive hands-on training that may include repairing drive trains and rewiring ignition systems. Some programs may also offer courses in alternative fuel cells and hybrid cars.
Aspiring car mechanics may also enroll in a professional apprenticeship program. Programs can last 2-4 years, and they are generally offered by automobile manufacturers and postsecondary institutes. During their training, apprentices work regular hours at a repair center or car dealership and then take nighttime automotive service classes. These courses cover all aspects of the car from steering and suspension to heating and air conditioning.
Car mechanics looking to increase their employment or promotion opportunities may look to the ASE for certification. The ASE offers certifications in a number of areas, such as collision repair and engine machinist. Although eligibility requirements include at least two years of work experience, mechanics who have completed automotive training in high school or college may be able to reduce this requirement by a year or more. Those who are eligible can then take the certification exam, which they must pass to become credentialed.
Employment Outlook and Salary
Car mechanics could see employment opportunities grow 17% during the 2010-2020 decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This average job growth was expected to result from the increasing number of both old and new cars on the road. Mechanics who've completed a formal training program should face the most favorable employment prospects.
The BLS also reports that most car mechanics earned annual wages ranging between $20,810 and $60,070, as of May 2010. Their median annual salary was $36,610.
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