How To Become a Mechanic (Plus Specialisations To Pick From)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 16 August 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you have a passion for cars, you may want to consider a career as a mechanic. Mechanics play an important role in diagnosing and repairing faulty components, causing problems in vehicles. Understanding the steps to become a mechanic can help you begin your career journey and develop the necessary skills. In this article, we discuss how to become a mechanic, share how long it takes to become one, and explore the national average salary for this career.

How to become a mechanic

The following steps can help you learn how to become a mechanic:

1. Select related classes

The minimum education requirement to become a mechanic is a high school certificate. While in secondary school, select automotive-related classes to help prepare you for a career as a motor mechanic. Some subjects to focus on include math and computer science. Also, consider working in a sales position to help you develop customer service skills.

2. Gain experience

Begin gaining experience of a mechanic role by working with or observing a professional. Here you can develop the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed in this career. Learn about how to diagnose and repair mechanical and electrical components of machines. Another option for gaining relevant experience is completing vocational school and taking an automotive course.

Related: Vocational Training: Definition and Different Types

3. Choose a speciality

Decide what type of mechanic you want to become. This allows you to focus on the training you need to learn about this field. Certain specialisations may require licenses. Consider what kinds of machines you want to work on when picking your speciality.

4. Get certified

To become more marketable, consider earning a certification through Technical and Further Education (TAFE). This shows employers your dedication to the field and extensive knowledge. Some certifications to consider include the following specialities:

  • Automotive studies

  • Automotive body repair technology

  • Automotive servicing technology

  • Heavy commercial vehicle mechanical technology

  • Light vehicle mechanical technology

5. Complete an apprenticeship program

Mechanics often pursue apprenticeship programs where they learn from qualified mechanics. Employers often require this in order to consider candidates. Apprenticeship programs can take between 43 and 48 weeks to complete. During this time, you can learn how to use different equipment and tools for repairing vehicles.

Related: What Is an Apprenticeship?

6. Apply to jobs

After gaining relevant experience, you can begin looking for mechanic jobs. Prepare for your application process by updating your resume and practicing some common mechanic interview questions. Once you secure an entry-level mechanic job, you may continue your learning through on-the-job training before working independently on repairs.

7. Consider getting licensed

Depending on the type of mechanic you decide to become, you may need to complete a license program. For instance, a motor vehicle repairer may need to apply for a license to work unsupervised. Requirements vary depending on the license but may include completing an application and paying a fee.

What does a mechanic do?

A mechanic is a tradesperson who diagnoses and fixes technical problems for vehicles, trucks, and other machinery. This includes inspecting and performing repairs based on their diagnoses. They also provide preventive measures like an oil change. Mechanics specialise in a certain field, such as motor mechanics. Job duties vary depending on the type of mechanic work they do, but may include:

  • Testing and repairing electrical systems

  • Assembling and installing mechanical components

  • Repairing or replacing faulty parts

  • Remaining knowledgeable on automotive technology

  • Discussing problems and concerns with clients

  • Conducting diagnostic tests to determine the functionality problem

  • Monitoring inventory of parts and make orders as needed

  • Performing vehicle assessments

  • Updating a work log with maintenance records

  • Creating a plan of action for completing maintenance tasks

Related: 20 Jobs in Demand in Australia

What are the different types of specialisations for mechanics?

Mechanics can choose from a variety of specialities for their career to determine the type of machines they repair. The following are some of the different types of mechanics:

General mechanic

A general mechanic can work on a variety of vehicles, ranging from lawn mowers to cars. They perform tune-ups and help provide proper maintenance for different machines. Job duties may extend beyond repairing machines and include knowledge of other trades, such as plumbing and carpentry.

Motorcycle mechanic

Motorcycle mechanics work on two- and three-wheeled vehicles, such as moped and dirt bikes. Work ranges from minor repairs to complete overhauls or restorations. Their speciality is in small engine and lightweight vehicle repairs.

Related: What Jobs Are in Demand in Australia? (With Examples)

"Big rig" mechanic

"Big rig" mechanics work on diesel vehicles, which are typically semis, tractor-trailers, buses, and large work trucks. Their focus is on diagnosing problems in heavy trucks. While they typically work in dedicated diesel engine shops, they may also go to breakdown or collision sites to perform remote repairs.

Recreational vehicle (RV) mechanic

Recreational vehicle (RV) mechanics specialise in motorised power equipment for RVs. They inspect, service and repair the systems for these vehicles. This type of mechanic may also fix the interior components of an RV, such as the appliances and generators.

Farm equipment mechanic

A farm equipment mechanic fixes large agriculture machinery. This includes examining and repairing dairy equipment, harvesters, irrigation machines and tractors. They may also travel to job sites if they can't easily transport equipment.

What skills do mechanics need to excel in their job?

Here are some skills that help mechanics excel in their job:

  • Problem solving: Problem-solving skills help mechanics find out what's wrong with a machine so they can find solutions for fixing it.

  • Communication: A mechanic uses communication skills when discussing and explaining vehicle or machine problems to customers.

  • Attention to detail: Being detailed oriented allows mechanics to pay careful attention to all parts of a machine to make sure it operates correctly.

  • Curiosity: Mechanics with the desire to continue learning and develop do well in their career, since they find different ways to solve problems.

  • Persistence: Since mechanics may encounter problems that take a while to solve, it's important to be persistent and keep searching for a solution.

  • Adaptability: Adaptability helps mechanics work on a variety of vehicles and interact with different customers.

  • Teamwork: Mechanics work alongside of others, especially when beginning their career, to find solutions to challenging problems.

Related: Problem-Solving Skills: Definitions and Examples

Frequently asked questions about becoming a mechanic

Here are the answers to commonly asked questions about the profession:

How long does it take to become a motor mechanic?

It typically takes less than three years to become a motor mechanic. However, the amount of time to become a motor mechanic varies depending on the route you choose to take to gain your knowledge and experience. For example, someone completing an associate degree may take up to a year for learning. However, trade school courses can take between six and 12 months.

After completing education, it's important to gain at least two years of on-the-job training and experience in order to work in an unsupervised position. It may also take longer if your mechanic specialisation requires a certification or additional training.

How is a mechanic different from a technician?

While the job titles mechanic and technician may appear interchangeably, these professions work on different types of work. Mechanics tend to perform more hands-on work and fix different parts in a vehicle. Technicians tend to focus on diagnosing problems using computers and compatible equipment. However, due to automotive technology advances, it's also beneficial for mechanics to have an understanding of programs used in auto shops.

How much does a mechanic earn each year?

On average, a mechanic makes $69,128 per year. Their salary can vary based on the region where they are located. For instance, cities like Sydney may pay up to $105,190 a year. Other factors include a mechanics specialisation, years of experience and whether they have a certification. Those working for a dealership generally make more money than those working in private repair shops.

What is the work environment like for a mechanic?

Mechanics often work inside a ventilated repair shop or outside at a work site. During their work, they may encounter harmful materials, toxic fumes and greasy tools. Their work sometimes involves uncomfortable positions, such as when they get under a car. Employers include either automotive repair shops or private garages.

Most mechanics work 40 hours a week, however they may work overtime during busy seasons. Working hours may also include evenings and weekends, depending on their type of employer. Typically, mechanics work full-time positions.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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