Career Development

What Does a Mechanic Do?

Find out what a mechanic does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a mechanic.

Mechanics are responsible for maintaining and repairing the equipment used in a variety of industries. They commonly work on vehicles, aircraft, heavy machinery, and other complex systems. Their job is to ensure that all of these pieces of equipment are working properly at all times.

Mechanics must have an extensive knowledge of how their particular piece of equipment works. This allows them to quickly identify problems when they arise and determine the best way to repair or replace parts as needed.

Mechanic Job Duties

Mechanics have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Inspecting the condition of vehicles to determine if they need repairs or if they are safe to drive
  • Diagnosing problems with vehicles’ engines, transmissions, brakes, steering systems, or other parts in order to make repairs or recommend replacements
  • Performing oil changes, tire rotations, and other routine maintenance on all types of vehicles including cars, trucks, SUVs, and motorcycles
  • Diagnosing problems with vehicles’ electrical systems and repairing them accordingly
  • Installing new parts on vehicles as needed, such as brakes or shocks
  • Performing routine maintenance on vehicles such as checking fluid levels and changing oil filters
  • Diagnosing problems with vehicles’ engines, transmission systems, or other major components using specialized tools and equipment
  • Repairing damaged parts using hand tools such as wrenches, screwdrivers, and hammers
  • Performing routine maintenance on vehicles such as replacing tires, brake pads, and windshield wipers

Mechanic Salary & Outlook

Mechanics’ salaries vary depending on their level of education, years of experience, and the company size and location. They may also earn additional compensation in the form of overtime.

  • Median Annual Salary: $47,000 ($22.6/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $74,500 ($35.82/hour)

The employment of mechanics is expected to decline over the next decade.

Automation and computerization have allowed some types of machinery to be maintained with fewer mechanics than in the past. As a result, some types of machinery will require less maintenance and repair work. However, other types of machinery will continue to need regular maintenance and repairs, which should limit the overall decline in employment for mechanics.

Related: In-Depth Mechanic Salary Guide

Mechanic Job Requirements

A mechanic typically needs to have the following background:

Education: A mechanic will need to complete a high school diploma or GED certificate before beginning an auto mechanic program. Many mechanics choose to pursue an associate’s degree in automotive technology. This two-year program will teach mechanics the skills they need to work on a variety of vehicles, including brakes, suspension, steering and engines.

Training & Experience: Most mechanics learn the specific skills and knowledge they need for their role while on the job. Training typically includes shadowing a current mechanic, performing duties under supervision and practicing until they are comfortable enough to complete tasks on their own. Training may last for a few days to a few weeks, depending on the employer and the role.

Certifications & Licenses: Certifications are not usually a requirement to become a mechanic, but they can make you a more competitive candidate when applying for jobs. Additionally, service shops that repair unique vehicles or offer complicated services may require certifications.

Mechanic Skills

Mechanics need the following skills in order to be successful:

Technical skills: Mechanics use technical skills to read and interpret technical manuals, schematics and diagrams. They use these skills to understand how a machine works and how to repair it. They also use technical skills to troubleshoot problems and identify the source of the issue.

Communication skills: Communication skills are another important skill for mechanics to have. You may need to communicate with customers, suppliers and other team members. It’s important to be able to speak clearly and concisely to ensure everyone understands you. You can also use your communication skills to help resolve customer issues and answer questions.

Problem-solving skills: When working on a car, you may encounter challenges that require you to think of creative solutions. For example, you may need to find a replacement part for a car that isn’t in production anymore. Having good problem-solving skills can help you find solutions to these challenges.

Attention to detail: Mechanics often need to pay attention to detail to ensure they perform their duties correctly. For example, if a customer brings in a car for an oil change, the mechanic should only change the oil and nothing else. This ensures the car continues to function properly and the customer doesn’t have to return for additional work.

Physical stamina: Staying physically active throughout the workday is important for mechanics. They often spend long periods of time standing, bending and lifting heavy objects. Having good physical stamina can help them work efficiently and avoid fatigue.

Mechanic Work Environment

Mechanics work in a variety of settings, including auto dealerships, service stations, and repair shops. They may also be employed by businesses that operate a fleet of vehicles, such as taxi or trucking companies, or by government agencies. Many mechanics work in well-ventilated and well-lit repair shops. Some work in noisy environments, and some may be exposed to hazardous chemicals. Although most mechanics work full time, about 1 in 4 worked part time in 2014. Many mechanics work evenings or weekends to accommodate their customers’ schedules. Some self-employed mechanics work more than 40 hours per week.

Mechanic Trends

Here are three trends influencing how mechanics work. Mechanics will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Need for More Technical Skills

As technology advances, the need for more technical skills becomes increasingly important. This is especially true in the field of mechanics, where an understanding of electronics and computer systems is essential to diagnosing and repairing modern vehicles.

Mechanics who are able to work with these complex systems will be in high demand, as they will be able to provide valuable services to customers who are looking for help with their cars. In order to stay competitive, mechanics will need to develop the skills necessary to work with these systems.

The Importance of Preventative Maintenance

Preventative maintenance is becoming increasingly important in the automotive industry. This is because it can help reduce the costs associated with repairs and keep cars running longer.

As mechanics become more familiar with preventative maintenance, they will be able to identify problems before they become too severe and recommend solutions that can extend the life of a car. This will make them extremely valuable to both car owners and auto dealerships.

More Automation in the Workplace

As automation continues to grow in the workplace, mechanics will need to adapt by learning new skills.

In the future, mechanics will need to be able to work with automated tools and machines in order to keep up with the demands of the industry. This means that they will need to be comfortable with computers and software, as well as with traditional mechanical tools.

How to Become a Mechanic

A career as a mechanic can be both rewarding and lucrative. It’s important to start off on the right foot by getting certified in your field. This will show employers that you have the skills and knowledge necessary to do the job well.

You should also stay up-to-date on the latest technologies and techniques used in the industry. This will help you keep your skills sharp and ensure that you are always able to provide quality service to your customers.

Related: How to Write a Mechanic Resume

Advancement Prospects

Many mechanics start out as automotive service technicians. With experience, they may advance to lead mechanic, service manager, or other supervisory positions. Some mechanics open their own auto repair shops after gaining business and management experience.

Many experienced mechanics receive training in specialized areas, such as air-conditioning repair or transmission repair. Some become certified by manufacturers of specific brands of vehicles. Many mechanics eventually specialize in one or two areas, such as transmissions or brakes.

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