These workers have the responsibility for the inspection, maintenance and repair of a variety of vehicles that run on either alternative energy sources, electricity or gasoline. These vehicles can be anything from a standard four-door car to a large truck. Their range of tasks goes from the simple to the complex, including oil changes, rotating tires, repairing transmissions and working on the engines of larger vehicles, such as buses. They’re also able to work on and repair complex computer systems that are found in modern vehicles, along with being able to use computer technology to diagnose a specific car problem. In order to do all of these tasks, the auto mechanic and technician need to have a very broad knowledge base in vehicle repair. To support them, they often make use of various reference type materials and electronic manuals for different cars.
Auto Mechanics and Technicians Job Responsibilities
When a car comes into a repair shop, the mechanic first inspects the vehicle for any problems, and if needed uses a computer to help diagnose an internal issue. Repairing and replacing broken and worn out parts, using a jack to lift up a vehicle and a large variety of hand and power tools are also part of the job. Other technicians may also work on specific parts of the vehicle such as the air-conditioning system, front end and transmission as a specialty area. They may work 40 hours or more, depending on business and customers. There is often heavy lifting involved, and having to pay strict attention to safety in order to avoid injury.
To work successfully in this field, mechanics and technicians must have good physical strength, the willingness to continually learn over their career and good interpersonal skills with customers and coworkers. The job also requires standing, stooping and working in cramped conditions at times. Problem solving and patience are required when working with complex problems and repairs.
Auto Mechanics and Technicians Training and Education Requirements
Those wanting to enter the field can get the best start by attending a formal training program that is done in a technical school or community college. Some high school students, if offered by the school, can enter a training program early on. High schools offering auto mechanic training may have a program in conjunction with the Automotive Youth Education Service, or AYES, which works with schools to provide a program that has certification from the National Institute for Automotive Excellence. These programs provide excellent preparation for entering more advanced training. At the post secondary level, students will have a mixture of academic and hands-on learning in automotive repair. Technical schools will usually offer a program that lasts approximately 6 months to a year with a certification, while community colleges may offer an associate degree. After graduation, it can take anywhere from 1 to 2 years to get the necessary basic experience in repair work and routine service tasks. Manufacturers may also have training centers where mechanics can come and increase their skills on a specific vehicle type or system.
Auto Mechanics and Technicians Salary and Wages
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the job growth for this field will rise at least 5% by 2018. There will be ample job opportunities for newer mechanics coming into the field to do routine maintenance procedures, such as oil changes. As technology makes cars last longer than in the past, there will also be continued need for repair and routine maintenance on them. Workers can better improve their chances of being hired if they are trained in a diverse array of areas within automotive repair. The average hourly pay for this job is approximately $16.88, with the highest rate at or above $20.71 and the lowest at or below $9.56 and hour. Mechanics and technicians can find work either in private shops or with a larger dealerships. Health insurance, retirement and other benefits vary by employer.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Auto Mechanics and Technicians Certifications
The National Institute for Automotive Excellence, ASE, offers ASE certification to technicians to meet certain requirements. It is not a legally required certification, but is highly prized by employers and makes the individual much more employable. There are eight various areas that an individual can be certified in, some of which include electrical systems, brake systems, heating and air-conditioning and engine repair. To achieve certification, the individual must have a minimum of two years experience and be able to successfully complete the required examination. The individual who becomes successfully certified in all eight areas can be called a Master Automobile Technician.
Auto Mechanics and Technicians Professional Associations
The National Institute for Automotive Excellence offers those who successfully complete the examination in each area certification. This organization also offers training opportunities and resources to support mechanics and technicians in their work.
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