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The requirements to become a brake mechanic can vary considerably by region and employer. Some professionals learn the trade on-the-job, working as assistants or apprentices to experienced mechanics. Most workers, however, hold degrees or certificates from accredited two-year community colleges or vocational schools. After gaining experience in entry-level jobs, an individual can apply for certification from a national organization to improve his or her credentials and chances of finding full time work. With the appropriate training, a person usually enjoys ample opportunities to become a brake mechanic.
A high school student who wants to become a brake mechanic can prepare for the career by taking hands-on automotive service classes. A student may be introduced to the tools and techniques used in service shops, including those necessary to inspect, repair, and overhaul brake systems. In addition to vocational coursework, a high school student can benefit from math, communications, and computer science classes. Near graduation, he or she can begin looking into entry-level apprenticeship opportunities or technical school programs.
Most future brake mechanics choose to pursue higher education in order to further hone their skills and improve their credentials. A two-year associate's degree or certificate program can provide more detailed training than high school courses, providing a student with both technical and customer service skills. In addition, career counselors at vocational schools and community colleges can help an individual identify potential job leads after graduation.
A graduate can look for opportunities to become a brake mechanic by browsing job search Web sites and newspaper ads. It is usually worthwhile to contact potential employers directly, even if they are not advertising open positions, to see if they would be willing to take on a trainee. Large chain service centers typically offer more opportunities for full-time work than smaller independent shops.
Once an individual gets hired, he or she can expect to spend several weeks or months in formal training. Experienced mechanics help new workers master their practical skills. Under supervision and guidance, an apprentice is often allowed to change brake pads, clean and lubricate rotors, and perform relatively simple electrical work. With experience, a professional is gradually given more responsibilities and freedom to work independently.
Many respected organizations offer voluntary certification for new mechanics who meet education and training requirements. In the United States, for example, the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence offers credentials to workers who have several years of experience in the trade and pass written exams. Certification is not required by all employers, but it can certainly help a person advance within his or her career. With continuing education and experience, a professional may be able to become a brake mechanic lead supervisor or a master automobile technician.