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Automobile Mechanic


Description

We love our cars, jeeps, trucks, and buses. We use transportation for a whole lot of reasons, from getting to work to driving to the hospital. But when our vehicles break down, suddenly our whole world comes to a standstill. Imagine that your car broke down the same day as the city buses, the taxis, and the subway, all at once? What would you do? In our vast country, everyone uses mechanical transport to get around, at least once in a while.

That means automobile mechanics are always busy. They look after our vehicles as they diagnose, repair and service the mechanical, electrical and electronic systems and components of cars, buses and trucks. They meet with the driver of the vehicle and try and determine what the problem is with the vehicle. They ask questions and physically inspect the car to determine the nature and extent of damage or malfunction.

This involves more than just looking under the hood. Often, the mechanics raise the automobile above them and remove things like engines or transmissions. They repair as much as they can, replace or put in new parts as necessary, and do things like realign breaks, replace shock absorbers, and rewire ignition system, lights, and instrument panels. Some may also mend damaged body and fenders by hammering out or filling in dents and welding broken parts. Mechanics tend to specialize, either in car types (Ford, Honda), or in system (engine and fuel, or brakes). Those in smaller shops will look after more duties than those in larger shops.

Some of the automobile mechanic's job is to maintain vehicles. They might only look over a car, and change some oil, but other than that pronounce a clean bill of health. These check-ups are not as much fun for the mechanic. However, both the preventative and the restorative treatments are important to maintaining a healthy car.

Traditionally, this is a field dominated by men, but that tradition is changing. More women are finding a place for themselves in the world of mechanics. It doesn't matter what your gender is, really--as long as you are analytical, patient, and have a passion for cars, then this job is right for you.
 
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  Average Earnings  
Lowest 10% of Earners:
n/a
 
Median Salary:
$30,596
 
Highest 10% of Earners:
n/a

  Interests and Skills  
Interested in working as an automobile mechanic? You need good hearing, eyesight and manual dexterity,
as well as mechanical aptitude. You should be able to work on your own, as well as take suggestions and help from fellow workers. You should be interested in keeping up to date with changing technology. You should enjoy precise work that is varied and challenging. You should be analytical, fit, and methodical in your approach to each task you undertake.
 

  Typical Tasks  
  • Take vehicle for test drive
  • Read vehicle manual
  • Meet with client to discuss troubles with vehicle
  • Raise vehicle up or look under the hood
  • Adjust, test and repair engines, steering systems, braking systems, drive trains, vehicle suspensions, electrical systems and air-conditioning systems
  • Re-align wheels
  • Replace damaged materials and mechanisms
  • May work on car body and interior
  • Perform oil changes, lubrications and tune ups
  • Advise customers on work performed
  • An automobile mechanic has a lot of tasks to look after. They spend each day getting messy, using their muscles as well as their minds. They solve difficult as well as obvious problems, ensuring that a vehicle is safe and driveable. They also must to the client communicate clearly about the problems and adjustments made. They don't get to travel, but will work outside on nice days.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Automobile mechanics work in automotive repair shops, specialty repair shops, service stations, car and truck dealerships, and large organizations that own fleets of vehicles like bus lines. taxicab companies, and rental car dealerships.
  • They work in teams, but may work on certain projects alone. They work in workshops which are usually noisy and dirty, exposed to exhaust and power tools. Most automobile mechanics work a 40-hour, five-day week, however, they may have to work some evenings, weekends or holidays, depending on the employer. They may work outdoors on cars during the summer months.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Automobile mechanics may advance to service manager or shop foreperson positions. Some open their own garages, service stations or automobile performance shops. They can transfer their skills to related occupations such as automotive instructor, car dealer, agricultural equipment technician or heavy equipment technician.
 

  Educational Paths  
Automobile mechanics receive their training either through informal, on-the-job training or through an apprenticeship program. Trade certification can be obtained either through an apprenticeship program or after several years of work experience. While trade certification is not mandatory in all states to become an automobile mechanic, it can be a requirement for many employers and can also help secure employment.

Apprenticeship programs involve a combination of on-the-job training with classroom instruction. A pre-apprenticeship course may also be available which takes about five to six months to complete at a community college and is designed to help you get connected with a good company to apprentice with. It is important to apprentice with a reputable company as that is your education. While some apprenticeship programs may not require a high school diploma, it is important to note that employers generally prefer to hire high school graduates.

Apprenticeships can vary from state to state, however a typical apprenticeship lasts four to five years. The apprenticeship is a paid position however wages are about 50% less of what an employer pays the Journeyperson, with yearly increases. After successfully completing the apprenticeship requirements, their state industry training and apprenticeship office awards the automobile mechanic a certificate of completion.
 

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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