You don’t have to be an auto mechanic yourself to have a basic understanding of what that kind of job description entails. On the most basic level, auto mechanics are problem solvers who work to identify and diagnose problems with cars and trucks, then they determine the proper solution and do the work to fix it. If you look a little deeper, however, you will find that a career as an auto mechanic is much more complex than that.

Overview of the Auto Mechanic Career

An auto mechanic is someone who repairs and maintains motor vehicles of all different kinds. Auto mechanics have the option to provide general repair services or they can specialize in a particular system. There are specialties in engine repair, for example, or you can specialize in transmissions, steering, or auto body repair. There are also some auto mechanics who specialize in a certain type of vehicle. For example, auto mechanics who work for car dealerships have a great deal of training and experience working with a particular brand of vehicle which may include several models. You can also complete a certificate program to specialize in broad categories of vehicles like four wheel drive vehicles or over the road trucks.

Job Description and Salary Ranges

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of auto mechanics has changed significantly over the years – this is probably due to the fact that automotive technology has grown and advanced. Today, auto mechanics have to be just as skilled with computer systems as they are with mechanical skills. They need to be able to use computers to help diagnose problems and to analyze the performance of a vehicle. Auto mechanics also require a great deal of hands-on skill and dexterity in order to perform detailed and complex repairs. Additionally, an auto mechanic needs to understand how all of the different parts and systems of the vehicle work together so he can make the necessary repairs.

For as complex as auto mechanic work can be, many mechanics are not paid particularly well. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for auto mechanics in 2012 was about $37,000. Mechanics who work for car dealerships had a slightly larger salary range, closer to $44,000 per year. It is important to note that specialized auto mechanics typically make a little more – the top 10% of auto mechanics make up to $60,000 a year.

Preparing for a Career in Auto Mechanics

Now that you have a better understanding of what auto mechanics do, you can probably guess what kind of educational background this career path necessitates. A successful career in auto mechanics starts as early as high school – you should try to take as many math, science, electronics, computer, and shop classes as you can to prepare yourself for secondary education. After high school, find an auto mechanic training program that will give you a blend of classroom learning and hands-on experience. Some programs are as short as 7 months for a certificate but an associate’s degree with take you about 24 months. After you graduate you will probably find yourself in an entry-level job performing minor repairs – take every chance you get to do and learn more. You may also want to consider pursuing some continuing education options like a short-term certificate program or a National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certificate.

Becoming an auto mechanic is not something that you can accomplish on a whim – it takes a good deal of time, planning, and dedication. If you think that this career might be right for you, take the time to learn everything you can about a career in auto mechanics including the educational requirements and job description.