Automotive mechanics are responsible for inspecting, repairing and servicing breaks, engines, and other parts of buses, cars and trucks, performing routine maintenance to automobiles and performing related duties as required. Automotive mechanics may specialize in diagnosis, engine repair, air conditioning systems, smog evaluation or other parts. Some perform general automobile maintenance.
Tasks of an automotive mechanic include diagnosing and repairing vehicle systems, maintaining and fixing exhaust, computer systems, fuel ignition, suspension, alignment and electrical systems; performing preventative maintenance; discussing repair problems with clients and supervisors; maintaining records of repairs done; instructing and supervising trainee mechanics; performing emergency repairs in the field; and inspecting, diagnosing and repairing electrical, mechanical and other automobile defects including, but are not limited to, relining or adjusting breaks, tune-ups, steering gears, generators, tire replacement or balancing, starters and universal joints, among others.
Education and Training Requirements
Employers prefer automotive mechanics to possess a high school diploma and complete high school courses such as automobile maintenance, metal work and mechanical drawing. Some employers may require mechanics to complete training programs from vocational, trade or community colleges. Obtaining Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification is an advantage, but not mandatory. To receive certification, an automotive mechanic must have at least 2 years relevant experience and pass exams. Mechanics that have passed all 8 areas of automotive service will be recognized as a master automobile technician, but must be retested every 5 years for certification renewal.
Knowledge and Skills Requirements
To become successful in this field, one must observe strong customer service and interpersonal skills, excellent diagnostic and problem-solving skills, effective communication skills, leadership skills, and knowledge of modern methods, theory of internal combustion engines, new technical techniques used in the industry, as well as tools and equipments used in repairing automobiles and trucks. He/she must also be highly motivated, detail-oriented and organized.
Automotive mechanics work in special service shops, gasoline service stations automobile dealerships, automobile leasing companies, government agencies, private firms and other automobile-related businesses. They work between 40-48 hours per week, but may work longer hours during busy periods in exchange for overtime pay. Mechanics must be able to lift heavy objects and be placed in awkward positions. They usually work with dirty and greasy parts. Minor accidents like bruises and cuts usually occur, but serious injuries can be avoided by maintaining good ventilation, heat and lighting in shops and by observing safety procedures.
The average annual salary of automotive mechanics is $32,600 per year, while the most experienced mechanics earn up to $50,000 annually. Automotive mechanic apprentices start at around 60% of the standard wage, but receive salary increases after their training and throughout their job.