How to Become a Mechanic
Considered perhaps as one of the safest career choices there are, due to the resistance of economic climates. People can spend years in formal education for graduate jobs, only to find a ton of businesses are remotely hiring remote workers overseas to lower their staffing budgets. That cannot happen in this line of work.
The mechanics of vehicles require human handling to repair them. That cannot be outsourced overseas. Nor can it be fixed online. A mechanic is the lifesaver of the day when people find their vehicles suddenly needing an emergency resuscitation. The potential for clients is tremendous, as there’s an estimated 30 Million vehicles driving around on the roads in the UK alone.
Mechanics keep their engines going, tyres repaired, body work repaired, and all the electrics working as they should in a safe manner. All possible with no university courses to undertake. A career you can learn while you learn, as most mechanic jobs will start out as apprenticeships.
To land an apprenticeship though, you’re going to need to have some training and a firm reason for any employer to offer you the opportunity. Thousands of people want to become a mechanic, but even as high as the demand is, there just isn’t enough to provide apprenticeships to everyone even remotely interested. Also worth noting is your general health. Mechanics are on their feet for most of their working day. When their not, they’ll be in awkward positions underneath the vehicle, accessing remote parts, and tinkering with electrics. That’s going to require a good fitness level and good eyesight, in particular, the ability to identify colours. You need to be able to see a blue wire is blue so you know it’s wired correctly, so if you’re affected with colour blindness, it’s going hinder your abilities big-time in this profession.
The best skill you can master is your problem solving abilities. You need to be able to understand the mechanics of what’s going on under the hood and how everything works together to keep the vehicle operational. This is required for you to run a diagnostics so you know what needs fixing, and then the how to fix it aspect begins.
Within the automotive industry, there’s a range of training you can undertake, all of which will contribute to your expertise and employment prospects, as well as being taken into consideration for any apprenticeships you may apply for. For those completely new to the training, the first stop would be your local college, enquiring about a level one certificate in vehicle maintenance. That will give you a crash course introduction to what you need to know to progress.
In the early learning stages of vehicle mechanics, you’ll be introduced to subjects such as running a diagnostics, operations of the transmissions, brake systems, suspension and engine management principles. These are only the basics, as there is a lot more involved under the hood of every vehicle. That’s why it’s preferred to have furthered your education to include higher level certifications, such as a level 3 in Automotive Engineering.
As a number of employers will offer MOT testing, and where it’s part of the job description advertised, you’d need to be qualified to a minimum of level 3 certification in vehicle mechanics, and further your training to include a Nominated Tester Training Assessment, (NTTA) in accordance with the Vehicle and Services Operators Agency (VOSA). You will only be able to carry out MOT testing on the type of vehicle you’re trained to assess and hold the relevant licence to operate it.
A category B driving licence is sufficient for car MOT testing, but if you were to be working with heavy goods vehicles, you’d need to hold the relevant category of licence to operate the vehicle, and have the training to carry out a through MOT testing, in accordance with industry regulations.
As part of your training, you’d also be required to learn about the health and safety aspect of the job, as there’s a number of risks in this line of work. Health and safety will cover topics such as hand-arm vibration, the correct method for using jacks, axle stands, chokes, and ensuring vehicles are supported when jacked before starting work on the vehicle.
There is a huge range of courses mechanics can undergo, and it is best to continually update your knowledge to stay abreast of any industry changes. Apprenticeships are also available and can be located through the Institute of the Motor Industry. (IMI)
Once you gain the necessary certifications to become a mechanic, jobs will be available in business servicing and repairing vehicles.
The work will be messy, so you can expect to hands dirty in oil, overalls covered in dirt from under the vehicle, but the working conditions, will be kept clean, neat and all your tools stored away in an organised fashion, so each mechanic in the garage, knows where the tools are when they need. Every job is going to be fast paced, and will be a challenging role, working to deadlines, for customers to pick their vehicles up at the allocated times.
Breakdown services need mechanics to be flexible to work shifts. The roads are open 24/7, and while there are cars on the roads, there’s breakdowns going to occur. When they do, you’ll be called upon to assist in the vehicle recovery, carrying roadside assistance where possible, or towing the vehicle back to base, for repair work to be carried out.
Every garage will have a variety of mechanic jobs available but they won’t always be fixing vehicles on behalf of customers. Working in second hand garages, you can find yourself stripping down vehicles for spare parts, in good working order, which you’ll then use to repair a similar model. This will prepare it for resale. For smaller sized garage, this a type of service, offered as a side source of revenue, keeping the garage funded to continue their operations on a tight budget. There may be times, when you’re attending car auctions, assisting on an advisory role to potential buyers about the estimated cost to repair the vehicle.
Large sized car hire companies can sometimes employ their own mechanic, to inspect, service and carry out any repairs on the company vehicles when they return after hire. This is necessary to ensure the vehicles are maintained consistently and ready for the next customer to drive safely.
Not the job you would expect to be doing, but given that most consumers don’t know about what’s going under the hood, they often ask others to assist. This is a service that’s been around for years, with work being picked up, through friends of a friend, letting others know you’re a qualified mechanic.
Some garages have moved into this market, where you can make arrangements to attend the car showroom, to give a vehicle once over, to help consumers find a suitable car.
Anywhere there’s a commercial fleet of vehicles, whether it’s cars, taxis, buses, trucks, or construction vehicles, there’s going to be opportunities to find work as a mechanic. Businesses with a fleet of vehicles will need regular maintenance to keep them running smoothly.
The better oiled the vehicles are the less breakdowns they experience. When vehicles are being serviced or repaired, they cost commercial businesses in lost revenue. That’s money that can out of the staffs wages, if they’re sent home due to a breakdown.
In the commercial industry, the staff will be relying on you to have their vehicles running smoothly, and skilled enough to carry out repairs with speed and efficiency. Besides the jobs listed, there’s also the opportunity to work for yourself as an independent vehicle mechanic too.