What does an auto mechanic do? An auto mechanic’s job is to diagnose and fix cars, light trucks, and other types of vehicles. Most places a mechanic works has similar job requirements:

  • Use computerized diagnostics to identify issues.
  • Perform typical routine maintenance such as rotating tires, changing the oil, and checking fluid levels of the vehicle.
  • Put the vehicle through tests to make sure everything is working up to par.
  • Use a checklist to ensure you didn’t miss anything crucial.
  • If there are broken or worn vehicle parts, you’ll repair or replace them.
  • Discuss what type of repairs are needed with the customer.
  • Manufacturer or customer requests on repairs are strongly followed.
  • Specialize in tires, brakes, on-board computerized equipment, or engines.

Becoming An Auto Mechanic

Most employers want their auto mechanics to have some sort of mechanic training behind them, here’s what you’ll need to do:

  • Get your high school diploma or GED.
  • To heighten your chances of getting a job, you’ll need some post-secondary education and training.
  • You can choose to go to a trade school; programs last around 6 months.
  • Or you can go to community college and get your associate’s degree; programs last two years if you attend full time.
  • If you graduate from a program, you’ll need minimal amounts of hands-on training.
  • If you started as a trainee, working alongside an experienced mechanic, then you probably have already picked up some serious tricks of the trade.
  • If your job includes working with refrigerants, then you’ll be required to get a license through the Environmental Protection Agency.
  • It’s pretty standard for auto mechanics to get a certification from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, and some employers require it prior to hiring.
  • If you want to become certified, you will need two years of experience, or completion of schooling plus one year of experience, and then you must pass the exam.

To become a master mechanic, you need to be certified in all of the following areas:

  • Automatic transmission/transaxle, brakes
  • Light vehicle diesel engines
  • Electrical/electronic systems
  • Engine performance
  • Engine repair
  • Heating and air-conditioning
  • Manual drive-train and axles
  • Suspension and steering

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How Much Money Does An Auto Mechanic Make?

Auto mechanics earn a median salary of $42,090, with the bottom 10% earning an average of $24,400 and the top ten percent earning an average of $68,880 (source: BLS). If you’re working at a dealership or for the manufacturer, you’ll earn a commission instead of a salary. This is called a “flat rate” or “flag hour” structure where you get paid based on the work you’ve completed. Some shops will pay hourly as opposed to salary. You’ll be familiar with overtime, though. And, most likely, you’ll be working weekends and evenings, as well.

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