Is Being a Mechanic a Good Career?
Yes, for many people becoming a mechanic is a good career choice. Mechanics, at their core, are problem solvers. If you like puzzles and understanding how systems work, you may find being a mechanic is the perfect career path.
You can train as an auto or diesel mechanic, motorcycle mechanic, aviation mechanic, marine mechanic, or industrial mechanic. In any of these fields, you’ll enjoy hands-on work that incorporates tech through vehicle computer components and diagnostic equipment.
Mechanic careers typically are stable in terms of demand. In most cities, local jobs are plentiful and come with room for advancement.
What Kind of Work Could I do as a Mechanic?
Mechanic careers take many forms:
- Auto mechanics work on cars and light trucks.
- Diesel mechanics work on buses, trucks, cars, and construction equipment.
- Aircraft mechanics repair airplanes, jets, helicopters, and any other machine that flies.
- Motorboat/marine mechanics deal with inboard and outboard boat engines.
- Motorcycle mechanics spend their time repairing motorcycles, scooters, and mopeds.
- Farm equipment mechanics repair farm machinery such as tractors and harvesters.
- Heavy equipment mechanics maintain and repair construction machinery such as bulldozers and cranes.
You can also specialize in a niche, such as collision repair, classic car restoration, or custom work.
What are the Requirements for Mechanic Training?
To receive training, you can learn on the job, or attend a trade school/community college. Attending an accredited mechanic program can make you more marketable to an employer, and may even increase your starting wage.
To enroll in a mechanic program, you must:
- Be at least 18 years of age (some schools will accept 16+ with guardian consent)
- Have a high school diploma or GED equivalent
No prior experience or other prerequisites are necessary.
What is a Mechanic Training Program Like?
Mechanic service technology programs are typically split into classroom learning and shop time. In the classroom, you’ll learn the different concepts and theories, and put these ideas into practice in the shop.
Core material covered depends on the niche you’re pursuing, but you can expect to learn about the entire make up of cars, trucks, bikes, boats, or planes.
In an automotive or diesel mechanic training program, for instance, you’ll cover:
- Steering and Suspension
- Manual and Automatic Transmissions
- Brake Systems
- Engine Theory and Systems
- Electrical Theory and Diagnosis
- Basic Math
Near the end of your training, some schools will have you complete an externship at a local business, which can help you secure your first full-time position after graduation. Many schools provide help with resumes and interviewing as well.
How Long is Mechanic Training?
Two of the most common forms of training are certificate and associate degree programs. Certificate programs can have you career-ready in as few as 10 months, while associate degree programs can last approximately 2 years.
How Much Does Mechanic Training Cost?
The following costs of training are typical of certificate and associate degree programs. Keep in mind, the ranges below are listed before any applicable financial aid:
- Automotive mechanic training averages between $15,000 and $20,000.
- Diesel and heavy truck mechanic programs are between $24,000 and $34,000.
- Aircraft maintenance training averages between $35,000 and $56,000.
Is Financial Aid Available for Mechanic School?
Training costs can be lowered, sometimes drastically, with financial aid for those who qualify. Popular forms of financial aid include grants, scholarships, and student loans. Your school's financial aid department should be able to help you review and understand your options.
Do I Need to Become Certified After Training?
Few mechanic roles require state licensing or certification. Still, if options are available to you, you should consider certification. Certified mechanics over time can earn an overall higher pay throughout their career, and meet the criteria for more job openings/advancements.
- Automotive and diesel mechanics: No certification required. However, once requirements have been met, it is good to get ASE certified.
- Small engine and marine mechanics: No certification required, but you will have the opportunity to pursue manufacturer certifications.
- Aircraft mechanics: No certification required. Having certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) can help your career, and schools help prepare you for the exams.
- Motorcycle mechanics: You will need a driver’s license with a motorcycle endorsement, in the event that you need to drive the motorcycle to complete a diagnostic repair.
How Much do Mechanics Make?
- Automotive mechanics averaged $47,990.
- Diesel mechanics averaged $53,020.
- Aircraft mechanics averaged $69,470.
- Marine mechanics averaged $46,660.
- Motorcycle mechanics averaged $41,970.
- Industrial mechanics averaged $58,780.