When it comes to finding career paths that don’t require a degree and that you’re passionate about, many people decide to become an auto mechanic. Being an auto technician means steady work with your hands on machines that you may have grown to love. You might romanticize the idea of keeping some of your favorite vehicles running, or you may be excited to do your own repairs at home as a side benefit.
Because of this drive to go down a new career path, many people wonder how to become an auto mechanic with no experience. They want to know what amount of schooling or certifications they will need to start an auto repair technician career.
Technically speaking, there are no specific job qualifications for auto repair workers in general. The state of California, for example, has no formal certification or training requirements to work in a repair shop.
With that said, it can be extremely tough to break into the auto repair field without a bare minimum level of education and job skills training. Obtaining your GED and enrolling in a trade school auto mechanic program can accelerate your career path. It also widens your opportunities to land higher-paying jobs right out of school.
Getting the right training is especially important these days because so many dealerships have a shortage of skilled technicians.
To help you understand what you can do to start your career as an auto mechanic and earn higher-paying jobs faster, consider the following recommended steps.
Ensure You Have a High School Diploma or GED
Many employers these days have a stack of applications on their desks. One of the easiest ways for them to shrink that stack down is to simply reject every applicant who hasn’t graduated high school or who hasn’t obtained their equivalency.
While plenty of people without a high school diploma or GED would make excellent mechanics, employers consider it a bare minimum level of education.
Graduating high school means that you will have obtained a certain level of math, science, reasoning, and communication skills. It also means you have the discipline and stability to complete a fairly difficult program.
Because of these expectations, applying to nearly any career field without a diploma or GED can be tough, especially one as demanding as auto repair.
Attend a Trade School Auto Mechanic Program That Teaches Essential Skills
Enrolling in auto mechanic school gives you all of the basic knowledge needed to know your way around a vehicle. You will receive hands-on training to familiarize yourself with common tasks, like oil changes, brake pad replacement, diagnostics, tune-ups, A/C repairs, and other basic repairs.
How long does it take to finish a trade school auto mechanic training program? It depends on the school.
For instance, the Center for Employment training offers an 810 hour auto repair training program that can be completed in 7 – 8 months, assuming you’re attending classes 30 hours a week.
Once you have completed your program, you can use our job placement assistance program to seek out entry-level positions and start getting trained by employers to move on to higher paying jobs with more responsibilities.
Get an Entry Level Job That Provides Employer Training
Most employers want to see a minimum number of hours before they will hire a full-time auto service technician.
Looking at someone who has zero training under their belt, a new hire will be expected to work a number of years for less-than-standard pay before they will ever be considered for more technical duties.
However, someone who has graduated from a trade school auto mechanic program will have hundreds of hours of applicable hands-on training that may help them skip lower-level positons. They can be entrusted with more responsibility as they shadow lead technicians or work as an assistant, gaining on-the-job hours that will make them qualified for more technical jobs down the road.
Consider Getting Industry Certifications
There are a ton of auto mechanic, service, and repair certifications available that can help individuals advance in their field and compete for higher-salary jobs.
One of the most important groups of certifications is offered by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, or ASE. Many mechanic’s shops look for ASE certificates before they will consider an applicant for some of their most important — and best-paying — jobs.
Individuals with ASE certificates can also apply for positions at more specialized shops, such as places that work just on transmissions, brakes, air conditioners, and other advanced systems.
ASE certifications are offered in specific areas, such as:
- Engine repair
- Engine performance
- Heating and air conditioning
- Manual drive train and axles
- Electrical systems
- Light vehicle diesel engines
- Automatic transmissions
People who want to be qualified to work on a broad range of vehicle issues should also obtain their EPA refrigerant handling certification. This certification makes them qualified to purchase, handle, and dispose of refrigerants used in vehicle air conditioning systems. Most shops won’t allow mechanics to touch AC systems if they don’t have this certification, especially in an environmentally focused state like California.
To be qualified to work at dealerships — who often offer some of the most desirable career paths — individuals should obtain a manufacturer certification.
The big auto makers like Ford, GM, Toyota, Honda, FCA Chrysler, VW, Mercedes-Benz, and more all have specific certification programs. Attending these programs teaches you the ins and outs of repairing each make’s specific, and often complicated, systems.
Since many auto makers now have unique systems in their vehicles that offer their own set of difficulties, mechanics who want to go farther in their career might want to consider getting one or several of these manufacturer-specific certifications.
Learn More About Auto Mechanic School Classes Near You
The Center for Employment training has auto mechanic programs starting all the time. If you are interested in beginning classes, there’s a good chance you can find some starting the day after you enroll.
All of our programs include 100% of the training supplies, books, tools, and uniforms you will require. We offer financial aid assistance to qualifying applicants, opening the doors to more people interested in starting a career.
Our auto service technicians programs are available at campuses in Colton, CA and San Jose, CA.
You can start the enrollment process today! Or, you can schedule a visit to a CET campus near you to see what classes are like in-person.
With our assistance and your own dedication, you could set off on a new, exciting, and rewarding career in wrenching before you know it!