What’s it take to be a mechanic? We get asked that a lot at our Cincinnati auto repair garage — sometimes by high school or technical students learning about careers, sometimes by customers who are just curious.
Essentially, becoming a mechanic requires completing a training program and becoming certified.
Yes, Math Matters
But of course it actually requires a lot more than that. Not just anybody is cut out for car repair. You’ve got to be handy with tools and engines. But you’ve also have to be pretty good at math. In fact, we’d recommend taking math as well as electronics classes in high school. This can be a good foundation.
Most training programs don’t require college, but many do require at least a high school education. So if you want to be a mechanic because you’re sick of school, do your future you a favor. Stay in school and finish. You’ll thank yourself later.
Speciality Training After Vocation School
You’ll need to complete a certificate or vocational program. In fact, we’d recommend getting an associates degree for a more well rounded education.
After completing your post-secondary requirements, you’ll likely start off at entry level. Car shops or dealerships can be a great way to get the necessary experience. You can hone basic skills and learn more intermediary and advance repairs. A tip: always pay close attention to the lead mechanic. There’s more swearing involved, but you’ll pick up skills you just can’t get in your average vocational program.
It’s also a good idea to specialize in a particular make of car, like European cars. Sure, we’ll fix anything, but it’s European vehicles like BMW, Volvo, and Porsche that we excel at.
How Much Do Mechanics Earn?
The paychecks of mechanics can vary widely — often depending on if they specialize on European vehicles, for instance. In 2017, mechanics earned a median salary of just under $40K, according to US News & World Report. The highest paid earned just under $54K and the lowest under $30K.
Fairbanks, Alaska and San Francisco, California were the two highest paid areas to be a mechanic. We’re fine fixing cars in Cincinnati, but no way we’d like to do this job in Alaska, no matter how high the pay. Cincinnati winters are brutal enough without living in arctic temperatures.