How to Become an Auto Mechanic

A person with good manual dexterity and a desire to figure out problems often has what it takes to become an auto mechanic, also known as an automotive service technician. An automobile mechanic provides maintenance and repairs for cars and trucks. This requires an ability to stay current with automotive technologies. Automotive technicians may work for auto repair shops, dealers, tire and auto parts stores, gasoline stations, auto rental locations and government. Approximately 16 percent of auto mechanics are self-employed.


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    Learn how auto mechanics has changed to a high technology field.
    • Although classic cars requiring mechanical repair remain, today's cars operate using computerized and electronic systems.
    • Automotive technicians must know a lot about how the various parts of an automobile work together.
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    Remember to get the basics. An auto mechanic needs reading, math and computer skills.
    • Automotive technicians need reading skills for studying manuals to learn to repair certain problems.
    • Technicians must also be comfortable working with computers and with basic electronics.
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    Obtain formal training. Training programs are often recommended due to the increasing complexity in the field.
    • A formal program provides classroom instruction and hands-on training.
    • Some high schools have auto service technician programs. Automotive Youth Education Service (AYES) programs provide invaluable experience. These programs are based upon a partnership between high school programs and automotive manufacturers.
    • Many automotive technician programs provided through technical schools are certified by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF).
    • Some training and continuing education programs are offered through automobile manufacturers.
    • An increasing number of community colleges are offering associates degrees for auto service technicians.
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    Obtain National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification to demonstrate your qualifications.
    • You are eligible to test for certification after completion of an automotive education program and one year of experience as an auto technician or after two years of experience working as an auto technician.
    • ASE certification for automotive technicians is available for: electrical systems, brakes, steering and suspension, heat and air conditioning systems, engine repair, manual drive train and axles, automatic transmission/transaxles and engine performance.
    • A Master Automobile Technician passes all eight examinations.
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    Diagnose auto problems with electronic diagnostic equipment and digital auto repair manuals.
    • Auto mechanics should have good reasoning and analytical skills to diagnose problems.
    • Diagnosing requires testing components until a problem can be isolated. Diagnostic and testing equipment may include on-board or hand-held computers.
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    Maintain automobiles through normal wear and tear.
    • In a routine inspection, auto service technicians may lubricate engine parts or repair and replace worn parts, such as belts, hose and plugs.
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    Learn how to use hand and power tools commonly used by automobile mechanics.
    • Many technicians provide their own hand tools, which include wrenches, screwdrivers and pliers.
    • Common auto power tools include pneumatic wrenches, lathes and grinding machines and welding equipment.
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    Start as a trainee technician or technician helper to build skills through work with experienced automotive technicians.
    • On the average, it takes 2-5 years to become a fully qualified auto service technician.
    • Specialties may require an additional 1-2 years of training and experience.
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    Specialize in repairing a specific automotive system.
    • Automotive technicians may specialize in certain kinds of repairs, such as brakes, heat and air or transmissions.


  • Go to a recognized school such as UTI or Wyotech and do a Manufacturers program for best career opportunities.


  • Exposure to chemicals and fumes daily.
  • Even at top level, you will work in a very physical environment and very rarely make over 80k a year.

Things You'll Need

  • Automotive hand tools, often not supplied by employer.

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Categories: Tradesman Occupations