Auto mechanics are in demand virtually everywhere there are cars. It is the job of the mechanic to keep cars in good running order by performing routine maintenance, as well as to make repairs when the operational parts of the car stop working. In most cases you will need to take various classes to become an auto mechanic, though you may be able to get started as a mechanic by having a lot of practical knowledge and hands-on experience.
Since most cars use computers to operate different parts of the vehicle, it is almost mandatory that you must have at least some type of formal training in these systems in order to become an auto mechanic. People without such knowledge are not able to work on most cars that are on the road today and are not likely to find employment with a dealership or auto repair shop. There is a very small niche of mechanics that work on older cars, such as those for old-time hot rod shows, but many are also able to work on computerized vehicles.
The best route for you to become an auto mechanic is to take classes at a mechanic’s trade school or at a community college that offers such classes. These are often given in the evening, to accommodate adults who must also work at other jobs. Depending on the school or the particular program you select, you can either get a certificate as an auto mechanic or a college degree in the field. Many times deciding whether to get a certificate or a degree depends on your personal needs and expectations. A certificate generally only requires that you attend classes for a short period, while a degree will usually take two years to acquire.
If you have some training, you can apply for an entry-level job in an auto shop. Obtaining practical, hands-on experience is essential if you want to become an auto mechanic, since knowing what needs to be done is not necessarily the same as being able to do it. A person who is new to the job and who does not have a lot of training is likely to have the best luck finding a job with a smaller, local mechanic. Larger shops and dealerships are more likely to require a very specific amount of education, and they may require that you have specific certification as well.
To become an auto mechanic at a car dealership or at many larger service centers, you should not only get as much education as you can, you should also seek to acquire various certifications, since these are tangible proof of your ability. Some, such as the Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) technician certification are often awarded as part of a training program, though you must pass the exam to receive ASE certification. Additional types of specialty certification, such as in air conditioning or auto electronics, are available and can help you with moving up in your job, increasing your pay as you do so.