Mechanics typically fix and repair transportation vehicles and their parts. Mechanics can work for garages, car dealerships, towing or transportation companies, airports, educational institutions or the government sector. They can also be self-employed and work in their own garage. If you are a mechanic, you will have some clearly defined tasks (e.g., running diagnostic tests on cars, repairing car parts, changing oil).
Some employers may require a minimum high school diploma and/or a GED certificate. Further training can obtained through automotive service technology programs at a high school, trade school, vocational school or community college. In addition, many employers prefer to hire someone that has Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification. Other requirements may also include:
- A valid state driver’s license.
- A background check and no criminal record.
- A drug screen.
- Owning your own mechanic’s tools.
You will need to review job advertisements carefully for the employer’s requirements.
Previous experience working as an automotive service technician or mechanic in any capacity is preferred. In some cases, even if you do not have a high school diploma, if you have a lot of experience as an automotive service technician, an employer may hire you. Some employers may require that you have knowledge of certain types of cars (e.g., domestic/foreign) or procedures (e.g., brake line work). If this is the case, they will specify this requirement in their job advertisements.
If you have the required education and skills, it is strongly encouraged that you apply anyways– everybody has to start somewhere!
- Manually examine vehicles and vehicular components.
- Test functionality and assess problems by operating vehicles.
- Diagnose automotive-related problems and perform repairs to fix the problem.
- Conduct oil changes, A/C and transmission services, brake jobs and other general maintenance.
- Take apart and re-assemble vehicle components and parts.
- Operate large powered machinery and equipment (e.g., pneumatic wrenches, grinding machines, blowtorches, welding equipment).
- Operate automotive repair-related equipment (e.g., cars, hoists, cranes).
- Use small handheld tools such as screwdrivers, ratchets, wrenches, and pliers.
- Communicate with the parts department to obtain needed parts or submit order forms to your supervisor.
- Your employer may ask you to carry out additional duties than those listed here.
What’s Your Scene?
This job requires that you are able to work "Behind the Scene." If you are working as a mechanic, you may not be working with the public on a regular basis, although you may be working near customers. You may be required to speak with and interact with co-workers as well as the customer or supervisor to help meet his/her car repair needs.
Skills / Abilities
Customer Service Skills - If you have to explain vehicle malfunction issues to customers, you will need to know how to provide excellent customer service. This includes being able to determine if the customer is satisfied, and to meet their needs. It requires the ability to accept complaints from customers, and to calmly deal with high stress situations and angry customers. Displaying a pleasant and cooperative attitude is important.
Motor Vehicles and Related Tools and Electronics - You will need to know how to use, repair, disassemble and reassemble, install and reinstall vehicle parts, components, and electronics and have knowledge of the tools needed to make repairs.
Oral Comprehension - Demonstrated ability to follow verbal instructions and ideas.
Organization and Prioritization - This job requires the ability to clearly organize and categorize work priorities to complete your work.
Manual Dexterity - This job requires the repeated and coordinated use of your hands, wrists, and fingers to use handheld tools (e.g., wrenches, ratchets, sockets, screwdrivers).
Physical Strength - This job requires that you are physically able to hold, push, pull, lift and carry heavy items (e.g., car engines, tires).
Location - A mechanic typically works indoors in a well-ventilated setting.
Noise Level – The noise level will range from moderate to loud. If you are working near powered equipment or machinery you will be exposed to loud noises. You may need to wear headphones on your ears to protect your hearing.
Lighting Level - The lighting level will typically be florescent lighting.
Work Hours - This job may have fulltime hours (40 hours per week).
Amount of Movement - This job typically requires that you stand or even lie down for long periods of time. It may involve some heavy manual labor therefore you will have to be physically active. You will need to be able to stand, sit, walk, bend, stoop, reach, lift, push, pull, and carry items for this job. For example, you may need to lift a car engine into a car, or stoop down to change a tire.
Cleanliness and Odors - This job setting can get dirty as you will be working with car parts that have car grease or motor oil. Garages often include strong smells such as exhaust fumes, gasoline, and motor oil.
Work Attire - Work attire will typically be casual clothing as you will most likely get dirt on your clothes. Some employers may give you a t-shirt/hat with a company logo on it or overalls to wear at work. They may also require that you wear personal protective equipment such as gloves, safety vests, goggles, and steel-toed boots. If working with loud powered tools, you may be required to wear headphones on your ears to protect your hearing.
Structure and Predictability - This job will typically have a lower degree of predictability and structure. This means that you might not do the same tasks each day, and these tasks might be completed in a different order each day. You might not always know ahead of time how long each task will take to complete. You will probably work in the same areas or location each day, however, you might not interact with the same people (i.e. particularly customers) each day.
What's the Pace?
- Steady: In most cases, the work pace will be steady, which means that there will always be 1-2 cars that need to be repaired.
- Peak: There might be other times when there are 4-6 cars to be repaired. This may be a more stressful period because customers are waiting for their cars to be fixed.
- Slow: There may also be some "down time," when there are very few cars that need repairs. This may be a more boring period, where you are required to just wait until a customer comes in.
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