In decades past, few auto mechanics had any formal training in repairing automobiles. Most mechanics learned on the job by watching an experienced mechanic work. However, this began to change as automobiles became more complex. Today, few mechanics learn their trade exclusively through on the job training. Most automobile mechanics will learn the skills needed to succeed through a formal educational program at a vocational or trade school.
Auto mechanics will need to obtain a high school diploma or a General Educational Development diploma (GED) to work for most employers. Many high schools offer vocational programs that can provide a student with some basic automotive repair knowledge. A high school vocational program can help a student to obtain an entry level position completing simple tasks such as changing oil and replacing belts. However, to work as a full mechanic, more education is needed.
Most trade schools offer programs of study in automotive repair. These programs typically last from six months to one year, but some programs last for two years. These two year programs generally award associate degrees to graduates. All automotive repair programs combine classroom learning with hands-on experience. This allows students to learn how to complete inspections to diagnose automotive problems and how to make needed repairs. Many programs also offer courses in basic business management and accounting. These courses will be beneficial to students who might want to operate their own garage or work in a management position.
Upon graduation, students may choose to sit for a variety of certification tests. The most widely recognized is the Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certifications. ASE offers certifications in numerous areas of auto repair. ASE certification is required by some employers and will be recognized as an asset by most employers. The majority of mechanics who work independently have obtained ASE certification.
Beyond general mechanic skills, there are also many specialized trainings that a student can complete. Some examples of specialized trainings include obtaining the certification to handle the chemicals needed to repair and recharge air conditioning systems and training in auto body painting. Though not required for every position, mechanics who have additional specialization certifications will have more job options and will likely earn more money than those mechanics who do not.
Auto mechanics should expect to complete formal training programs throughout their career. Automobile manufacturers offer new courses each year to teach mechanics how to work on their new cars, trucks and other vehicles. Mechanics who work for dealers can expect to be required by their employer to complete these trainings. As new technologies such as hybrid powered engines become more common, mechanics will also need to learn to repair these types of vehicles.
While becoming trained to work as a mechanic will take some effort and determination, it should be well worth it. The demand for well-trained mechanics at places like Salisbury Collision Centre is expected to continue to be strong in coming years and salaries should continue to increase.