It would be great if there were one single auto mechanic job description that covered everything, but the truth of the matter is that different positions tend to come with different sets of specific expectations.
Auto mechanic jobs vary, and you may be able to find a position somewhere regardless of your education level, as long as you’ve got some hands-on experience at an auto mechanic job somewhere. Depending on your background, you could be performing a number of tasks like the following.
Auto mechanic duties and responsibilities
There are some general duties that solid service techs should be ready to perform, even if they aren't listed specifically as part of an individual description for various auto mechanic jobs:
- Diagnose and identify mechanical issues, using human senses as well as computerized equipment
- Perform troubleshooting routines and assess systems and modules for operative defects
- Maintain levels of oil, tires and other consumables to ensure safe vehicle operation
- Repair or replace parts that have worn out or malfunctioned
- Communicate the details of necessary repairs and maintenance needs to clients
Larger garage chains or specialty service bays may be hiring or paying increased mechanic salaries for positions that cover a specific automotive system or set of skills. Here are a few of the specialized positions you might encounter on the job search:
- Transmission technician - Specializes in gear trains, fluid couplings, friction clutches and other inner workings of transmission mechanisms
- Front-end mechanic - Works on steering components, suspension, wheel balance and other aspects of ride quality
- Automotive A/C repairer - Performs service on compressors, condensers and other parts involved in vehicle air conditioning; must be federally certified to purchase and handle controlled refrigerants
- Brake technician - Specializes in adjustment and repair of brake systems and replacement of worn out consumable parts such as pads and rotors
When a company is looking to hire an auto mechanic, the job description and duties and responsibilities expected tend to be made fairly plain. If you're shopping around for auto mechanic careers, read the postings closely and look for one that matches your skill and experience.
Typical work environment for auto mechanics
A vast majority of auto mechanics working in 2014 were employed at repair shops, maintenance bays and auto dealerships, according to BLS data. Here's a breakdown of the percentage of working mechanics and service techs in each of the top five industries for auto mechanic employment in 2014:
|Automotive Repair and Maintenance||36.2%|
|Automotive Parts, Accessories and Tire Stores||10.6%|
Regardless of industry, most mechanics and service techs work full time. A fair percentage of auto mechanics may also operate independently, working as self-employed contractors out of a home garage or rented space in a commercial facility. Around 14 percent of mechanics in 2014 were self-employed.
Spending long hours on one's feet and reaching into tight spaces are part of most auto mechanic job descriptions, also, and a certain amount of familiarity with computer diagnostic systems and their associated hardware is typically expected. The BLS reports that auto mechanics experience a higher rate of injury and illness than the national average, which may be associated with the percentage of time spent around heavy tools and machinery, but the work isn't considered especially dangerous if safety precautions are taken and workplace procedures are followed.
Skills required for the profession
The Occupational Information Network, or O*NET, keeps track of the skills that working auto mechanics report using most often on the job. Here's a list of some of the top auto mechanic skills and knowledge areas, according to professional mechanics surveyed in 2014:
- General mechanical knowledge - understanding the designs and uses of machines and tools
- Manual dexterity - moving hands and arms in a coordinated way to hold or manipulate objects
- Troubleshooting - finding effective solutions to problems through testing and observation
- Critical thinking - using logic and reason to determine proper approaches to a problem
- Computers and electronics - interacting with electronic equipment and computer hardware and software
- Operation monitoring - watching gauges and other data output visualizations and checking results
The exact skill requirements of the job can vary from position to position. Active listening and spoken communication were also reported as high-use auto mechanic skills, as well as customer service and tool and equipment maintenance.
- Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, accessed August 24, 2015: Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/automotive-service-technicians-and-mechanics.htm
- Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, accessed August 24, 2015, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes493023.htm