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How to Become An Auto Mechanic in 7 Steps

Feb 9, 2023 ·

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All mechanics start somewhere, and it’s never too late to get started.

However, you may be wondering how to become a mechanic if you have no experience. It is possible, but the journey to get there can seem unclear without enough information.

Each technician’s automotive career path is unique. However, a guide on how to become a mechanic can help jump-start your pursuit. Keep reading to learn what auto mechanics do, the skill set they possess and how to become one!

What Do Auto Mechanics Do?

Auto mechanics maintain, diagnose and repair various types of automobiles and can work in diverse environments including repair shops, dealerships, tire shops or part shops. 

While their duties can vary, most auto mechanic job descriptions include the following:

Conduct routine maintenance, including oil changes, tire rotations and fluid checks

  • Adhere to industry-standard safety procedures
  • Use diagnostic tools to identify issues and determine plan for repair
  • Communicate with customers to explain and provide estimates for repair
  • Test vehicles for state emissions and safety standards
  • Maintain detailed records of maintenance and repairs performed

What Skills are Needed to Become an Auto Mechanic?

Auto mechanics, also called auto technicians, must understand the mechanical and electrical systems within an automobile. As technology advances, these systems become more complex. Keeping up with them requires a certain set of traits, including:

  • Desire to learn: This ever-evolving field demands an initiative to keep up with new tools technologies, equipment and industry standards.  
  • Technical aptitude: Auto technicians deal with intricate components and systems, so developing technical aptitude is crucial.  
  • Math skills: Mechanics must have basic math skills to determine the proper size of tools to use, calculate torque and horsepower and more.  
  • Adaptability: Every day is different in the automotive industry. This fast-moving career calls for the ability to overcome challenges and meet customer expectations all while performing adequate work.

Need help sharpening these skills? Keep reading for seven steps on how to become a mechanic.

How to Become a Mechanic

1. Have a High School Diploma or GED

So, is becoming an auto mechanic possible without going to school? The truth is employers often exclude applicants for auto mechanic roles if they haven’t graduated high school. 

Even if you already have practical mechanic skills, your automotive mechanic resume could get overlooked if you don’t have this credential, especially at top companies and dealerships. Most trade schools also require a high school diploma or GED to enroll.

These documents indicate a certain level of discipline and reasoning ability. Even if you’re a very diligent worker, it can be harder to prove that to an employer or postsecondary school without official documentation.

Getting a diploma or GED takes time. However, without either, it may take much longer to find your footing in the automotive technology industry. To broaden your career options, get your diploma or GED first!

Read: What are the Admissions Requirements at UTI?

2. Enroll in a Trade Program

Without technical training, becoming a mechanic with no experience is feasible, but doing so could be difficult since many of these roles – even entry-level ones – still require previous hands-on experience.

This is the type of experience that technical trade programs can provide. These programs teach their students the skills and knowledge needed for entry-level careers in automotive technology. They can also offer degrees, diplomas or certifications that confirm their graduates have built a technical foundation.

Most of UTI’s Automotive Technology programs offer degrees. Depending on the program they attend, a graduate can receive:

  • Associate of Occupational Studies (AOS)
  • Associate in Specialized Technology (AST)
  • Occupational Associate Degree (OAD)

Certain automotive technology programs may offer a diploma instead. Our campus in Bloomfield, New Jersey, provides its automotive graduates with a certificate of completion.

These documents could make a difference in an automotive technician’s professional journey. Employers are generally more confident in the aptitude of mechanics with schooling credentials. For that reason, they may be more likely to hire mechanics who have completed structured training programs over those without credentials.1

Trade schools may also provide information to their students about competitive job opportunities. For example, at UTI, our Career Services team can help students and graduates prepare for interviews and compile other application materials during their job search.

Fortunately, you can enroll in an automotive mechanic school even if you have no prior experience. But if you're itching for hands-on experience and the thought of hitting the books leaves you restless, don’t fret!

Students in these programs receive hands-on training through a blended learning model that combines online, remote learning and hands-on instruction – both of which teach skills commonly used in the field. They’ll also have access to the tools, machinery and equipment needed for effective on-campus training.

Technical schooling also typically takes less time to complete than a four-year university program. At Universal Technical Institute, it can take about 51 weeks.7 So, becoming an auto mechanic could take a little less than a year!

3. Continue Schooling With Specialized Training

Specialized training programs whose curriculum is tailored to specific manufacturers can help graduates further develop their skill set. Most of UTI’s specialized auto training programs last 12 to 15 weeks.8 Some programs, like the Mercedes-Benz Drive (MB Drive) and the Porsche Technology Apprenticeship Program (PTAP), may last longer.15

These programs teach students how to service vehicles for specific brands and manufacturers. Some programs specialize in just one automotive brand, while others cover multiple brands. Program completion provides graduates with credibility and training they can use when applying for jobs in the auto industry.

Here at UTI, both student-paid and manufacturer-paid programs allow students to explore specialized training. Student-paid training has fewer application requirements, which means that more students can apply for a spot. Some manufacturer-paid curriculums, while attached with certain GPA and attendance requirements, also include post-program employment agreements!15

Read: Student-Paid vs. Manufacturer-Paid Programs

4. Double Your Learning

On campus, students receive hands-on auto mechanic training in our labs.18 However, many students also wonder how to become a mechanic while training at UTI.

A number of UTI’s graduates have obtained part-time jobs while attending classes! It's an excellent way to learn while earning an income. Students can explore such opportunities with our Early Employment Program.36  It’s important to note that eligibility requirements and conditions for these positions are established by participating employers and are between the employer and the student. In addition to employer-specific requirements, eligible applicants for the Early Employment Program must be enrolled at or currently attending UTI (program currently offered at select UTI campuses based on employer availability and hiring needs).

5. Learn With the Right Tools

Your automotive mechanic courses will include the majority of the tools and equipment you need during on-campus training. The tools and equipment used in our labs are also similar or the same technology that industry manufacturers use in the field to help students build confidence before becoming an auto mechanic.

However, you’ll also need your own auto mechanic tools, especially after graduation. Fortunately, UTI has a relationship with Snap-on, a leading manufacturer of professional high-end tools and equipment – a brand that the military trusts!

Automotive Technology II and/or Diesel Technology II students nearing graduation with no outstanding obligations will be given a Career Starter Tool Set Voucher, which can be redeemed for a variety of Snap-on® tool sets!19 Snap-on offers a wide tool selection including:

  • Wrenches
  • Pliers
  • Ratchet sets
  • Socket sets

6. Apply and Test for Certification

Obtaining certification is another way to boost your credibility when becoming a mechanic since it indicates a specific level of knowledge in the field. Several states even require technicians to obtain certifications to perform certain technical tasks.

Although there’s no government-mandated definition of a mechanic, getting certified demonstrates that someone has objectively met a specific set of criteria and can validate their knowledge and abilities in automotive technology. This validation could be helpful in a job search.

You might be wondering how to become a certified mechanic without school. Although it’s possible, getting certified without technical training can be pretty tricky. But with the right training, graduates can feel prepared to apply and test for certifications.

UTI's Automotive Technician Training program is Master Certified by the ASE Education Foundation, a division of the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).16 That means our automotive technology graduates are considered well-prepared to take ASE exams. They can also use their training to replace one of the two years of work experience required for ASE certification.

Even at entry-level, becoming an auto mechanic can be difficult if you don't stand out on paper. But those who complete a training program and pass certification exams can provide the documents some employers require when applying for jobs in the industry.

7. Follow Local Regulations

As mentioned before, “mechanic” isn’t a federally regulated term. However, becoming a mechanic in some states may require obtaining credentials that verify prior hands-on automotive experience. Other states may require credentials only for more advanced or specialized auto technician positions.

These credentials could include specific certifications and, in some cases, licensing. Technicians may also need to renew their certifications every year or so.

In certain states, technicians may also need to retest every few years to get recertified and continue working in the state. This is especially true with ASE certification renewal.

However, keep in mind that some states waive certain experience or testing requirements for ASE-certified individuals. This is excellent news for anyone attending an auto mechanical trade school that prepares students for the ASE certification process, like UTI. Graduates of our Automotive Technology program are well prepared to take ASE exams and can use their training to replace one year of the two years of work experience required to become ASE certified.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Mechanic?

The amount of time it takes to become an automotive mechanic depends on the path you take to get there. While some aspiring mechanics pursue the career straight out of high school, they may have trouble landing their first position without hands-on experience, as the competition can be steep. 

In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that employers prefer candidates who have attended an auto mechanic school because they receive practical hands-on training. With that said, auto mechanic training programs can last anywhere from one to two years.  

UTI’s auto mechanic training program can be completed in just 51 weeks, less than one year!7 

The BLS also mentions that many employers value industry credentials, such as ASE certification. As mentioned above, becoming ASE certified requires two years of hands-on experience, and UTI graduates can substitute their education for one of those years. 

To sum things up, with help from UTI’s auto mechanic school, you can begin pursuing a career in after a year or less! 

How Much Do Auto Mechanics Make?

According to the BLS, the median annual salary for automotive service technicians and mechanics in the United States was $46,970 in May 2022.25 This means that half of automotive technicians earned more and half earned less. Keep in mind that salary can vary based on several factors, including location, industry, level of experience and employer.

Read: Automotive Technician Salary in the U.S.: A 2023 Guide

Learn How to Become a Mechanic With No Experience at UTI!

Here it is – our step-by-step reference for becoming an auto mechanic from the ground up! Itching to get started? Then it’s time to get ready for school.

Universal Technical Institute offers a 51-week Automotive Technology program.7 Here, industry experts can teach you how to become a car mechanic with no experience, assisting you in developing the skills and knowledge required to pursue auto mechanic jobs.

Locate one of our Universal Technical Institute locations near you. Once you’re ready to enroll and begin your training, fill out an automotive trade school application!

With classes starting every 3-6 weeks, no need to wait to start your career.
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1) UTI is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary.

2) For program outcome information and other disclosures, visit

7) Some programs may require longer than one year to complete.

8) Does not include time required to complete a qualifying prerequisite program such as UTI’s 51-week Automotive Technology program.

15) Manufacturer-paid advanced training programs are conducted by UTI on behalf of manufacturers who determine acceptance criteria and conditions. These programs are not part of UTI’s accreditation. Programs available at select locations.

16) Not all programs are accredited by the ASE Education Foundation.

18) UTI now offers all of its automotive, diesel, motorcycle and marine technician training in a blended learning format consisting of online lecture courses along with in-person, hands-on lab training.

19) Students who are near graduation, have no outstanding obligations to the school, and who have not previously taken part in a tool voucher program on any UTI/MMI/NASCAR Tech affiliated campus may be eligible to participate in the UTI Tool Voucher Program. Vouchers hold no value 90 days after graduation.

25) UTI’s Automotive Technology Program prepares graduates for entry-level positions using the provided training, primarily as automotive technicians. Estimated annual salary shown above is for Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics as published in the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ May 2022 Occupational Employment and Wages. Entry-level salaries are lower for UTI graduates. UTI is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary. UTI graduates’ achievements may vary. Individual circumstances and wages depend on economic factors, personal credentials, work experience, industry certifications, the location of the employer, and their compensation programs. Some UTI graduates get jobs within their field of study in positions other than as an automotive technician, such as service writer, smog inspector, and parts associate. Salary information for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: The average annual entry-level salary range for persons employed as Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics (49-3023) in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is $32,140 to $53,430 (Massachusetts Labor and Workforce Development, May 2020 data Salary information for North Carolina: The U.S. Department of Labor estimates the hourly median wage for skilled automotive technicians in North Carolina is $21.80 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, May 2022 Occupational Employment and Wages, Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics). The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not publish entry-level salary data. However, the 25th and 10th percentile of hourly earnings in North Carolina are $15.23 and $13.48, respectively.

36) Students enrolled in select UTI programs are eligible to apply for the Early Employment Program. Participating employers will contact selected applicants to conduct interviews. Hiring, employee retention and compensation decisions are made solely by the prospective employer. Employer participation and program details are subject to change. For additional information, please contact Career Services. UTI is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary.

Universal Technical Institute of Illinois, Inc. is approved by the Division of Private Business and Vocational Schools of the Illinois Board of Higher Education.


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