It's no secret — Americans love their cars. It's hard to find someone without some type of personal vehicle whisking them from point A to B to C during the day. And many car, truck, SUV and motorcycle owners depend on auto repair professionals to make sure their vehicles remain in a tip-top condition.

Interested in learning more about the auto repair industry and auto mechanic schools? AutoMechanicSchools.com may help. Our directory tries to sort auto mechanic programs by both state and specialization that may help you in looking for an auto mechanic school. Plus, our in-depth articles may help answer specific questions you may have about training to help become an auto mechanic.

What does an Auto Mechanic do?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov, 2014) describes automotive service technicians and mechanics as professionals who repair and maintain both the mechanical components and electronic systems of passenger vehicles.

As a mechanic, your day-to-day responsibilities may include everything from performing basic oil changes and tire rotations to diagnosing more advanced problems with computerized tools. You may also have to be able to effectively communicate a car's problems to clients — translating cryptic jargon into words they can easily understand. You may have additional duties depending on the area of auto repair you may choose to pursue.

A Typical Auto Mechanic Career Pathway

While there are many different ways to become an auto mechanic, here is a typical career pathway.

  • Obtain a high school diploma or equivalent qualification, preferably taking classes in subjects like computers and automotive repair.
  • Apply and enroll in a vocational or postsecondary auto mechanic program accredited by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF), taking specialty courses based on your interests.
  • Obtain an entry-level job as a trainee technician or related position.
  • Improve your skills and/or further specialize by gaining professional certifications and licensure from organizations like the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).

Completing the first two steps does not guarantee employment as an auto mechanic. Similarly, completing the last two does not guarantee a successful career. In both cases, additional training, experience or certification may be required.

What kind of Education/Training do I need to become an Auto Mechanic?

While a high school diploma is usually the absolute minimum educational requirement for entry-level work, completing a vocational or associate degree training program is the most common way to prepare for a potential career in the field according to the BLS. Depending on the program and school, these auto mechanic programs may usually be six months to a year in length, and may focus heavily on hands-on skills training and traditional classroom instruction. Associate degree programs may feature academic courses in areas like English and customer service as well (bls.gov, 2014).

On-the-job-training may also be prevalent in the field. If you become an entry-level mechanic, you are likely to learn many new skills from more experienced technicians. It may sometimes take multiple years before you may become qualified to perform a large set of repairs (bls.gov, 2014).

Specializations/Certifications within the Automotive Repair industry

There are several areas of specialization in the auto mechanic industry that may be gained through additional education, certification and licensure. Industry-standard certifications may be earned from ASE.

Following automobile and light truck certification tests may be offered by many national institutes for automotive service, National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), for example:

  • Engine Repair
  • Automatic Transmission/Transaxle
  • Manual Drive Train & Axles
  • Suspension & Steering
  • Brakes
  • Electrical/Electronic Systems
  • Heating & Air Conditioning (An additional license from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is required to work with refrigerants.)
  • Engine Performance
  • Light Vehicle Diesel Engines

There may also be specialty career options if you want to repair more than just cars and trucks, work on a specific engine type, or become an expert on a particular brand of vehicle. Training for these specializations may be often tied into an auto mechanic school's programs.

Career Specializations may include:

  • Diesel Engines
  • Small Engines (including motorcycles)
  • Collision Repair

Brand-specific Training/Certification options include:

  • Ford ASSET (Automotive Student Service Educational Training)
  • GM ASEP (Automotive Services Educational Program)
  • BMW STEP (Service Technician Education Program)
  • BMW FastTrack Program
  • Porsche Technology Apprenticeship Program
  • Audi Academy

What kind of skills may be required for an Auto Mechanic?

If you're considering becoming a mechanic, there are many useful skills that may be helpful to have, including:

  • Manual Dexterity. You should possess excellent hand-eye coordination to physically repair many automotive parts.
  • Problem-solving. As a mechanic, you should be able to logically diagnose and solve problems in multiple automotive systems.
  • Communication. Customer-service may be an integral part of your job, and being able to effectively communicate with clients may be typically important.
  • Technical. Vehicles are becoming increasingly advanced, so it may be useful to have a technical background. This may allow you to more easily understand the electronic systems in modern vehicles and the diagnostic tools used to repair them.

For additional information, please see our extended selection of articles.

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ASE certification could lead to a successful career in automotive repair

Rob Sabo,Sep 09, 2014

Improvements in automotive technology mean cars and trucks are more sophisticated than ever, and that also means there's an increased demand for mechanics who specialize in diagnosing and repairing late-model vehicles, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Get 200K Miles (or more) from your car's engine

Rob Sabo,Mar 21, 2014

Routine oil changes are but a small part of an overall strategy to extend the life a vehicle's engine. A comprehensive automotive maintenance plan also encompasses driving conditions and habits, as well as strict dedication to regular service.

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