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How to Quickly Become an Auto Mechanic

June 12, 2023

WyoTech mechanic working on a vehicle

So, you’ve got a passion for cars, a knack for fixing things, and a dream of becoming a mechanic? Well, buckle up and grab a wrench because we’re about to embark on a wild ride to turn you into a grease monkey extraordinaire!

In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about how to become an auto mechanic. Ready? Let’s rev those engines!

How to Become an Auto Mechanic 101:

Step 1: Fuel Your Tank With Knowledge 

First things first, you gotta get your hands on some knowledge fuel. No, we don’t mean guzzling gasoline—let’s save that for the cars.

Start by exploring high school auto shops, vocational schools, or even community college programs. These places are like the gas stations of mechanic education, pumping you full of the basic skills and know-how to get started. Since most employers require a high school diploma to show that you have the mathematical and critical thinking skills needed to fill a mechanic’s role, be sure to get your diploma or GED.

Step 2: Get Your Hands Dirty

You can’t learn to fix cars just by reading about it (that’s why courses require actual work with vehicles aside from textbooks). You need to get out there and get your hands dirty.

Find yourself an entry-level job at a repair shop, and don’t be afraid to dive headfirst into the world of oil stains and mysterious car noises. You’ll learn rapidly with the advantage of first-hand experience. Plus, you’ll have plenty of fun anecdotes to share with your friends. Best of all, you’ll figure out whether being an auto-mechanic is a good fit for you. 

Remember, too, that just because the job is a little dirty, it doesn’t mean that an auto mechanic career is a bad one. Great auto mechanics are needed everywhere, and the more knowledgeable you are, the better a mechanic you will be and the safer the world’s roads will be!

Step 3: Read Up On What it Takes to Become a Car Mechanic

There are a few ways you can approach a career in auto mechanics. You can:

  • Rely on hands-on work and on-the-job training. You can definitely use your experience to build a career on. Without a degree or formal training, however, building your expertise will come at the pace that is set by your employer.
  • Attend a tech or trade school. There are many technical schools that offer certificates and degrees in auto mechanics. These can be significantly less expensive than getting a four-year degree at a university. WyoTech, for example, is an affordable option and only takes 9 months to get your certificate where it can take 1+ years at other schools. 
  • Get a two year degree at a community college that has a strong trade component. This is also cheaper than going to a university, and can get you a degree in less time. You will still need to take some general ed classes that might not interest you.
  • Leverage your military service. The military is great at providing awesome training in very specific fields. The downside is that while you get great experience and training, there isn’t always a corresponding certificate or degree. However, some schools offer credit for some military training, and once you get out of the service, you can take advantage of the G.I. Bill to pay for a degree or training! **Wyotech is proud of its veteran student body and invites all who served to enroll–we work closely with the VA to get your school paid for!

Step 4: Tools of the Auto Mechanic’s Trade

Every mechanic needs a trusty set of tools. Start with the basics: wrenches, sockets, screwdrivers, and maybe even a rubber chicken (it was one of the funniest pranks we’ve seen so far, watch it here). As you gain experience and expertise, you can start building up your arsenal of specialized tools that make you feel like a true mechanic! And don’t forget the coveralls–gotta dress the part, and protect your clothes!

Step 5: Go Full Throttle on Certification

While you’re busy getting greasy, remember the certifications we just talked about. Some internships can combine experience and education in something like the perfect oil blend for a long-lasting career! These little pieces of paper can open doors for you. 

Look into programs like the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification, which can showcase your skills and make you stand out in a sea of aspiring mechanics. There’s an entry-level certification you can get that doesn’t require experience, and the ASE includes test-prep materials right on their site! And hey, who doesn’t love collecting certificates? They’re great for wall decor and fantastic conversation starters with guests. 

Step 6: Find Your Automotive Niche

Did you know that the field of mechanics is enormous?! Also, there are more than a few avenues you can cruise through in the automotive mechanics sphere alone. You might enjoy working specifically in diesel technology or collision & refinishing, as examples.

You might want to work on or restore classic automobiles, or you might want to work for Tesla and help with new technology in the EV space–getting fancy over here! Maybe your dream is to work in the NASCAR world–plenty of need for top-notch mechanics there!

The more specialized you get, the more you will need specific training and, usually, the more earning potential you will have. 

Step 7: Keep on Cruising

As vehicles incorporate more and more computer technology, automobile mechanics need new knowledge and up-to-date training on these systems. So becoming a mechanic isn’t a one-and-done deal.

The automotive industry is constantly evolving, and you need to keep up with the changes. Attend workshops, conventions, and online courses to stay up to date on the latest car technologies and repair techniques. Think of it as leveling up your mechanic skills, just like in a video game… except without the respawn button. Hey, at least you’ll never get bored as an auto mechanic!

That’s Basically It

Those 7 steps pretty much sum up what it takes to become an auto mechanic these days. It’s pretty straightforward but just takes time and dedication. As an automotive trade school, we highly recommend going with the professional training of getting into a program. It’s quicker than trying to get experience most other ways and gives you a diploma; setting yourself up to quickly enter a job.

Got more questions about becoming a mechanic? Take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions and our answers to them.

Auto Mechanic Career FAQs

What is the average annual income for an auto mechanic?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2020, the average salary for automotive technicians and mechanics was $46,760. That means that if you progress and build on your career, your earning potential can be significantly higher!

What does an auto mechanic do?

An auto mechanic diagnoses, repairs, and maintains vehicles, fixing everything from engines to brakes. They’re the superheroes who keep our cars running smoothly and save the day when our rides go kaput! 

How can I kick start an auto mechanic career?

The ASE offers an entry-level certification that doesn’t require experience and they even include test-prep materials on their website. You can also enroll in an auto trade school program and take some courses to build great experience and certifications. 

How long does it take to become an auto mechanic?

Becoming an auto mechanic typically takes anywhere from nine months to two years, depending on the type of education or training program you choose. Vocational schools or community colleges often offer programs that can be completed in one to two years, while shorter intensive programs may take around nine months.

What certifications or licenses are needed to become an auto mechanic?

Though not legally required, obtaining certifications can significantly boost your credibility and employability as an auto mechanic. The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) offers various certifications that validate your expertise in specific areas of automotive repair. Additionally, some states may require mechanics to obtain a license or registration to work in the field. WyoTech provides several programs for mechanics and technicians alike.

Whatcha Gonna Do?

And there you have it—that’s how you become an auto mechanic! Remember, the path to becoming a mechanic requires hard work, dedication, and a genuine passion for all things automotive. So, gear up, embrace the grease stains, and get ready to embark on an exciting journey filled with endless possibilities and an occasional encounter with the notorious “Check Engine” light. Good luck, future gearhead! Vroom vroom!

What are your plans for the future? If you have any questions or want more information, give us a honk!