Switch Into Another Gear: How to Become a Licensed Mechanic

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Published
Oct 1, 2018

Oct 1, 2018 • by Rebecca Smith

Do you love cars? If so, consider turning your love for cars into a career by becoming a mechanic today.

There are about 750,000 mechanics working throughout the U.S. at the moment. But there is always a demand for more mechanics, especially mechanics who are trained to work on newer cars that are equipped with the latest forms of technology.

Before you can begin working on cars for a living, though, you need to learn how to become a mechanic. It's not as simple as just showing up at a garage one day and asking whoever is in charge for a job.

Here are the steps you'll need to take to get licensed to be a mechanic.

Step 1: Obtain a High School Diploma or GED

One of the most appealing things about becoming a mechanic is that you don't have to attend college for four years to do it. It's a trade school job that can provide you with a good income without a bunch of student loans to go along with it.

With that being said, you will need to take some courses to become a mechanic. And in order to enroll in those courses, you'll need to have either a high school diploma or a GED.

If you don't have a high school diploma and want to know how to become a mechanic, start by going back to school to get your diploma. It'll allow you to move on to the next step.

Step 2: Take the Proper Training Courses

As long as you have a high school diploma or GED, you'll be able to enroll in training courses that will teach you the things you'll need to know about working as a mechanic.

You can find these training courses through:

  • Automobile manufacturers
  • Local community colleges
  • Vocational schools

There isn't a one-size-fits-all approach to taking training courses to become a mechanic. Some people enroll in a program that offers them the opportunity to earn an associate's degree, while others earn a certificate in automotive service technology or a related field.

The important thing is to take classes that will benefit you once you move from the classroom to the garage. Your courses should be centered on subjects like:

  • Automotive repair
  • Automotive electronics
  • Computers
  • Math
  • And even English

Speak with someone at the school you plan on enrolling in to see what they would recommend as far as the courses you should take.

Step 3: Begin Earning Valuable Experience in a Garage

Once you have some formal training under your belt, it'll be time for you to start getting more experienced in a garage.

Just to be clear: You are not going to be prepared to do any major or even minor repairs to cars just yet. But you will be ready to take on a lube technician job or a similar position.

During this step, you'll handle things like oil changes, filter replacements, and tire alignments. You'll also learn your way around the inside of a garage and see how everything works.

You're going to be laying down the foundation for your career when you first start working in a garage. It's important for you to watch how others work and learn as much as you possibly can on the job.

Step 4: Serve as an Apprentice Under a Master Mechanic

If all goes well when you first start working in a garage--or better yet, if you go to a school that sets you up with an apprenticeship when you're finished your studies--you'll start serving as an apprentice under a master mechanic during this step.

This is when you'll be asked to start making more automotive repairs, while under the watchful eye of someone with a lot of experience. You'll learn how to write up repair orders, how to diagnose issues with cars, how to use certain tools, and more.

Click here to see one example of a common problem you'll likely face as an apprentice.

Just like during the previous step, your goal here is to learn as much as you can and to ask questions when appropriate. Working under a master mechanic is more valuable than any classes you'll take at a school.

Step 5: Earn National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) Certification

The length of your apprentice will depend on how quickly you pick up certain aspects of the job. Most young mechanics spend between two and five years in apprenticeships before graduating to the next level.

After you're finished serving your apprenticeship, you'll be eligible to move up and become what's called a C Tech. It'll allow you to begin working on cars on your own.

You'll also be eligible to take the tests necessary to earn National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certifications. By doing this, you'll prove you're worthy of working on certain aspects of a car.

You can earn ASE certification in eight different areas. They are:

  • Automotive transmission
  • Heating and air conditioning
  • Suspension and steering
  • Brakes
  • Engine repair
  • Engine performance
  • Electrical systems
  • Manual drivetrain and axles

You need two years of experience in these fields to qualify for ASE certification.

You can actually take your ASE tests and pass them prior to having enough experience. But you won't be given your certification until you can prove that you have enough experience for it.

Step 6: Work Your Way Up the Ranks Until You're a Master Mechanic

As you strive to earn your ASE certification in the eight different areas, you can continue to work your way up within your garage. But you won't technically be considered a master mechanic until you have obtained all your ASE certifications.

It can take a few years to do this. But it's well worth your time. Once you become a master mechanic, you'll be able to find a job almost anywhere due to your experience and certifications.

Step 7: Continue to Take Training Courses to Stay on Top of Vehicle Technology

Once you become a fully licensed mechanic, feel free to give yourself a pat on the back. You definitely deserve it!

But don't get too comfortable. While master mechanics are in high demand, they can also fall behind if they stop taking training courses.

Cars are evolving more quickly than ever today. If you don't continue to learn more about them, you might find yourself struggling to keep up with repairs in the coming years.

Find Out How to Become a Mechanic Before You Begin the Process

If you desire to be a mechanic one day, learn how to become a mechanic first so that you know the steps involved.

You need to have more than just a love for cars to work on them for a living. You also need to right certifications and the proper experience to be trusted in a garage.

Read our blog for other helpful tips about becoming a mechanic or pursuing other careers.