These days, it's not good enough to be just a "grease monkey." You'll need
some kind of formal education to become an auto mechanic. They rely on computers,
schooling and instinct to cure what ails a car.
Programs in the U.S. are often two years long. Many schools work
in conjunction with high schools to give students an early start. You may
also find these programs under the name "automotive technology" or "automotive
High school students interested in auto mechanics should concentrate
on a well-rounded education that includes math, language skills and -- given
today's advanced auto technology -- computer abilities.
"The technology of the auto industry today is such that a student must
possess good math, English and communication skills to succeed," says Richard
D. Pyle, head of Arapahoe Community College's automotive department in Colorado.
Computer literacy is very important, says John F. Sheppard. He is
an automotive service technology instructor.
"Most vehicles are computer-controlled and this is the area that most employers
are looking for competency in, as well as the fact that most dealers are using
PCs for parts, records [and] service," he adds.
Extracurricular activities such as playing a variety of sports will help
keep you in shape and improve hand-eye coordination for working in tight places
on a vehicle.
Sheppard recommends a part-time job in the auto industry and mechanical-type
hobbies. Also, "have a mentor who is into mechanical stuff," he advises.
Besides tuition, the biggest expense in this program is tools. These
are the tools you will need to repair a vehicle both while in school and after
you get a job. Mechanic's tools easily start at $800 for a basic kit and run
up to about $1,600.
There are ways to save on this expense. You might choose to buy used tools.
And many times, tool manufacturers will appear on campus to sell their products
at a discount.
Occupational Outlook Handbook
For more information related to this field of study, see: Automotive
Service Technicians and Mechanics
International Automotive Technicians' Network
You can use this site to locate a member in your area
Small Engines Website
Industry links, engine theories and answers to your questions