What Skills Do I Need to Be a Mechanic?

Mechanics are responsible for inspecting, repairing and maintaining cars, buses, trucks, motorcycles and other vehicles. In recent years, the systems and components of these vehicles have become more complex. Mechanics need the skills to work not only with special tools and diagnostic equipment, but also with sophisticated electronics and computer systems. Schools offering Automobile Repair degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Skill Requirements for Mechanics

Automotive, diesel and small engine mechanics perform a wide range of services on vehicles that are becoming increasingly complex. As a mechanic, you may find yourself performing tune-ups, flushing fuel systems, testing ignition and emission systems, installing air conditioning systems, replacing brakes and even building engines and transmissions.

You'll need to possess an excellent understanding of these mechanical components and the electrical and computer control systems that can cause them to malfunction. You'll also need excellent diagnostic and problem-solving skills, good hand-eye coordination and manual dexterity.

The Tools of the Trade

You'll need to learn how to use an array of tools, equipment and instruments to work in this field. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), these may include lathes, grinding machines, welding equipment, pneumatic wrenches, jacks and hoists (www.bls.gov). Mechanics also need to be familiar with the diagnostic equipment used to measure factors such as engine timing and emissions.

You may need to use special tools like calipers to measure the condition of brake rotors and drums or bearing pullers to repair flywheels and pumps. You'll also use hand tools such as wrenches and screwdrivers to work in tight spaces and on small components.

Academic and Technical Training

Many technical colleges, vocational schools and community colleges offer certificate, diploma and associate degree programs for individuals who are interested in becoming mechanics. These programs will typically provide you with classroom and hands-on mechanical training. Most will take 1-2 years to complete. When you're finished, you can find employment at service stations, automotive dealerships or private transportation companies, according to the BLS.

Some associate degree programs can also prepare you to take the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence's (ASE) national certification exam (www.ase.com). This is a nationally recognized credential designed for mechanics with the appropriate combination of training and work experience.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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