Mechanic qualifications depend upon the type of work technicians perform and the level of training or schooling achieved. Most automotive repair shops, especially larger shops in urban areas, want mechanics with vocational or post-secondary education in the field. As vehicles became more sophisticated and computerized, mechanic qualifications changed rapidly and might require certification in one or more areas. Basic mechanic qualifications include knowledge of hand and power tools, computer know-how, and an aptitude for problem solving.
Secondary school vocational programs allow students to gain experience working on modern vehicles. Some schools partner with auto manufacturers and dealerships to prepare students for an automotive career. In some regions, annual competitions test students’ knowledge and might lead to opportunities for technician trainees. Mechanic qualifications for trainees are usually less stringent than requirements for more complex work.
Trainees usually work alongside experienced mechanics and learn on the job. They may start out performing simple maintenance tasks, such as oil changes and auto lubrication. It might take several years before trainees move up to journey-level mechanics, but those with prior vocational classes or trade-school courses typically advance more quickly.
Mechanic qualifications might also vary by specialization. A beginning mechanic may choose to specialize in one area of automotive repair, such as the braking or steering system. He or she can earn certification in that area by attending training courses in the area of specialty. Certification in several areas of auto repair represents typical mechanic qualifications to work as a master mechanic. These might include the heating and air conditioning system, electronics, and basic engine repair.
A master mechanic generally receives higher pay and more job opportunities. He or she might work as a service manager or supervisor overseeing work done by several mechanics. A master mechanic might also choose to start an automotive repair business.
Other qualifications usually include good customer service skills to discuss mechanical problems with vehicle owners. Mechanics should also possess good analytical skills to evaluate and diagnose problems. They usually need a valid driver’s license to enable test driving automobiles during the diagnostic process.
Electronics control many systems on newer automobiles, making computer skills a necessary requirement in some automotive repair facilities. Mechanic qualifications might include familiarity with computerized diagnostic equipment, which is standard in most large repair shops. Technicians also use hand tools and power tools in the work. Specialized knowledge of electric cars, and those using alternative fuels, is considered a plus.