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Auto Mechanic

What An Auto Mechanic Does

An auto mechanic’s job is to diagnose and fix cars, trucks, and other types of vehicles. You’re like a doctor, but your patients have oil. Job duties for auto mechanics are similar, no matter what type of garage you’re working in:

  • 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.
  • Repair or replace broken or worn vehicle parts.
  • Discuss what type of repairs are needed with your customer and further explain anything once you are done.
  • Follow manufacturer or customer requests on repairs.

How To Become An Auto Mechanic

You’re an auto mechanic, but you also answer to "service technician" or "service tech." Since most employers want their auto mechanics to have some sort of serious training behind them, here’s what you’ll need to do and know:

  • Have a high school diploma or GED.
  • Increase your hiring potential by having some postsecondary education and training. Trade school programs last around six months. You’ll receive a certificate of completion at the end.
  • At a community college, you’ll receive an associate degree. Programs last two years if you’re enrolled full time. If you graduate from a program, then you’ll need minimal amounts of hands-on training.
  • Get tricks of the trade by getting trained by a more experienced mechanic.
  • You may need a license from the EPA if you’re working with refrigerants.

Master mechanics are the highest-ranking mechanics. To become one, you must be certified from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. Two years of experience, or completion of school plus one year of experience are needed to become certified. You can be certified in any of the following areas separately: 

  • A1—Engine Repair
  • A2—AutomaticTransmission/Transaxle
  • A3—Manual Drive Train & Axles
  • A4—Suspension & Steering
  • A5—Brakes
  • A6—Electrical/Electronic Systems
  • A7—Heating & Air Conditioning
  • A8—Engine Performace
  • A9—Light Vehicle Diesel Engines

Or, if you complete certification tests A1-A8, then you are recognized as an ASE-Certified Master Automobile Technician.

Salary and Job Outlook

As an auto mechanic, you will earn a median salary of $38K, with the top ten percent of your colleagues earning $64K.

If you’re working at a dealership or for the manufacturer, then you might have a “flat rate” or “flag hour” structure where you get paid based on the work you’ve completed—the more you finish that day, the more you get paid. Some shops will pay hourly as opposed to this: You will always make the same amount per hours worked.

Either way, you’ll be familiar with overtime. And most likely, you’ll be working weekends and evenings, as well.

Auto mechanic job growth is remaining steady at 6 percent, with close to 46,000 available positions opening through 2026. Finding a job should be fairly straight forward if you’re certified and qualified. As the technology behind cars evolves, they become more reliable. This means that in the near future, you’ll really only be performing routine maintenance as the bulk of your job.