How to Become a Mechanic: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a mechanic. Research the education and career requirements, certification and experience required for starting a career in this field.

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Do I Want to Be a Mechanic?

Mechanics are skilled in repairing cars and trucks. Their job tasks usually include inspecting a vehicle's parts, evaluating its overall condition, diagnosing problems and making repairs. They also perform routine tune-ups and change the oil in vehicles. Mechanics often work with oily tools and parts and may have to remain in uncomfortable positions for extended periods of time.

Job Requirements

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a high school diploma or the equivalent is usually required to work in the field, but post-secondary training is often preferred by employers and may increase employment opportunities. Although no certification is required to work as a mechanic, employers may prefer applicants certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). The table below includes the requirements to become a mechanic.

Common Requirements
Education Level High school diploma or equivalent; postsecondary training preferred*
Education Field Automotive technology*
Certification Certification through ASE is highly preferred**
Experience Two years of experience are required for certification***
Key Skills Must be detail-oriented, have good manual dexterity and excellent customer service skills**
Technical Skills Strong technical skills to handle current computer and electrical systems in vehicles*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS); **Monster.com job postings (September 2012); ***National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).

Step 1: Graduate From High School

A high school diploma is the minimum education necessary to work as a mechanic. Some high schools may offer shop classes that provide instruction about automotive technology and teach students how to work with vehicle electrical and electronic components.

Success Tip:

  • Look into automotive technology high schools. Some high schools offer training specifically in automotive technology. These specialized schools are designed to prepare students for entry-level positions in the field or to continue their education.

Step 2: Consider a Formal Training Program

While not required to work in the field, enrolling in an automotive technology certificate or associate's degree program may be beneficial for finding employment. Courses in these programs cover topics such as engine repair, steering, suspension, automotive brake systems, electrical systems, transmissions and climate control. Graduates of 2-year programs may be able to substitute their education for one year of experience when seeking employment.

Step 3: Gain Experience

Mechanics can work for automobile dealers, vehicle part sellers or private companies. Some employers may prefer to hire new graduates as assistant mechanics. This job position provides the opportunity to gain experience for certification by learning from an experienced mechanic.

Step 4: Obtain Certification

The ASE offers certification in eight automotive specialties, including in engine repair, automatic transmission, brakes and electrical systems. Mechanics must usually pass exams to earn most certifications. These exams include 40-50 questions. Generally, recertification is required every five years.

Success Tip:

  • Look into gaining master status. Passing all eight ASE certification specialty exams earns an individual ASE Master Technician status. This status may increase employment opportunities and potential salaries.
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  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
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  • School locations:
    • Idaho (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Boise State University include:
      • Graduate: Master
      • Non-Degree: Certificate, Coursework, Diploma
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
      • Construction Management and Trades
      • Electrical Repair and Maintenance
      • Heating, Air Conditioning, Ventilation, and Refrigeration Maintenance
      • Heavy Equipment Maintenance
      • Precision Metal Working
      • Vehicle Repair and Maintenance
        • Autobody Repair
        • Automotive Mechanics
        • Diesel Mechanics
        • Small Engine Mechanics
  • School locations:
    • California (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Southwestern College include:
      • Non-Degree: Certificate, Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Associate
    • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
      • Construction Management and Trades
      • Electrical Repair and Maintenance
      • Vehicle Repair and Maintenance
        • Automotive Mechanics
        • Small Engine Mechanics
  • School locations:
    • Rhode Island (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at New England Institute of Technology include:
      • Non-Degree: Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
      • Construction Management and Trades
      • Electrical Repair and Maintenance
      • Vehicle Repair and Maintenance
        • Autobody Repair
        • Automotive Mechanics
        • Marine Watercraft Repair and Maintenance
  • School locations:
    • Michigan (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Ferris State University include:
      • Graduate: First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Certificate, Coursework
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
      • Construction Management and Trades
      • Electrical Repair and Maintenance
      • Heavy Equipment Maintenance
      • Precision Metal Working
      • Vehicle Repair and Maintenance
        • Autobody Repair
        • Automotive Mechanics
  • School locations:
    • Illinois (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Southern Illinois University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
      • Vehicle Repair and Maintenance
        • Airframe Mechanics and Aircraft Maintenance
        • Automotive Mechanics
        • Avionics Repair and Maintenance
  • School locations:
    • Mississippi (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Pearl River Community College include:
      • Non-Degree: Coursework, Diploma
      • Undergraduate: Associate
    • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
      • Construction Management and Trades
      • Heating, Air Conditioning, Ventilation, and Refrigeration Maintenance
      • Precision Metal Working
      • Vehicle Repair and Maintenance
        • Automotive Mechanics
        • Diesel Mechanics
  • School locations:
    • Georgia (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Valdosta State University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Post Master's Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
      • Vehicle Repair and Maintenance
        • Automotive Mechanics
  • School locations:
    • Michigan (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Northern Michigan University include:
      • Graduate: Master
      • Non-Degree: Certificate, Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
      • Construction Management and Trades
      • Heating, Air Conditioning, Ventilation, and Refrigeration Maintenance
      • Heavy Equipment Maintenance
      • Precision Metal Working
      • Vehicle Repair and Maintenance
        • Aircraft Powerplant Tech
        • Autobody Repair
        • Automotive Mechanics
  • School locations:
    • Alaska (3 campuses)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Alaska include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, Master
      • Non-Degree: Certificate, Coursework
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
      • Construction Management and Trades
      • Electrical Repair and Maintenance
      • Vehicle Repair and Maintenance
        • Aircraft Powerplant Tech
        • Airframe Mechanics and Aircraft Maintenance
        • Automotive Mechanics
        • Diesel Mechanics

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