As with nearly all jobs, most professional mechanics start their careers with an entry-level position. Just as a head chef probably began as a line cook, learning to perfect some basic skills, mechanics must do the same. The most common entry-level technician jobs are ones where a mechanic can perform the same specific duty repeatedly, leading them to eventually perfect it. Having a few perfected skills makes a mechanic a desirable hire, and gives them the freedom to be a specialist or a general mechanic.
After a few years of entry-level experience, most technicians are ready to move up and become a successful general mechanic for an auto shop, or a mobile mechanic such as YourMechanic. It’s all about spending enough time to learn the skills necessary to excel at the job.
If you don’t want to begin with an entry-level mechanic position, you can always consider honing your skills by studying at a trade school, or getting an automotive technology degree. However, if you want to take the traditional approach and learn through experience, you’ll want to get an entry-level technician job. Here are the ten best jobs you can get to start your mechanic career.
10. Collision repair assistant
Working at a collision repair shop gives inexperienced mechanics a chance to learn a lot about vehicles. An assistant at a collision repair shop will gain a lot of basic knowledge about many vehicle components. This position also teaches beginner mechanics about how vehicle damage impacts the different systems within the car - a valuable skill to have.
9. Parts specialist
A common entry-level mechanic job is a parts specialist. Most auto shops also have parts stores, and working in the parts department allows young mechanics to learn about nearly every part that goes into the vehicle. A parts specialist won’t get any hands-on experience, but they will get an intricate education in how cars work. This knowledge is very beneficial when the specialist transitions to a general mechanic position.
8. Tire repair technician
Working at a tire shop is a great way to pick up a lot of mechanic information. You’ll quickly become an expert in not just changing and rotating tires, but also in performing wheel alignments. Most tire shops also handle other mechanic duties, such as applying shocks and brakes, so you’ll get to begin learning about other systems in a vehicle as well.
7. Battery mechanic
Battery mechanics typically work for tow companies, and are responsible for assisting drivers whose cars won’t start. These mechanics will jump start vehicles, assess batteries, and repair and replace batteries. It may sound like a simple job, but it’s nonetheless a great way to gain experience and knowledge and break into the mechanic industry.
6. Electrical system specialist
Electrical systems are an important part of every vehicle, and learning a lot about them will be beneficial for any mechanic. By starting out as an electrical system assistant or specialist, you’ll get to hone your skills regarding electrical components in a vehicle. When the time comes to become a general mechanic, you’ll have a lot of specific knowledge working in your favor.
5. Air conditioning and heating mechanic
Like being an electrical system assistant or specialist, getting an entry-level position as an air conditioner (AC) and heating mechanic gives you an opportunity to learn the ins and outs of a critical automotive system. AC and heating systems are some of the more common repairs that are performed in the mechanic industry, so having that knowledge and experience will help you out as you move to a higher-ranked mechanic position, as you’ll constantly be assessing and repairing AC and heating systems.
4. Oil and fluid change technician
Probably the most common entry-level mechanic job is an oil and fluid change technician. In this position, you’ll not only change oil but also change transmission fluid, wiper fluid, and, in some cases, brake fluid. As an oil and fluid change technician, you’ll likely learn how to perform basic safety inspections, and you’ll get to spend a lot of hours under the hood of a vehicle. This entry-level position will provide you with a lot of basic knowledge and hours of experience under your belt.
3. Brake technician
Brakes are the prominent safety feature in any vehicle. As a brake technician, you’ll not only learn how to change rotors, discs, and pads, but you’ll also learn all about ABS systems, parking brakes, and everything else associated with a well-working brake system. Since brakes are so vital, maintaining them are a must-have skill for any general mechanic. Having extended experience working with brakes will make easy to move up the mechanic ranks.
2. Mechanic’s assistant
The knowledge gained from being a mechanic’s assistant is invaluable. You’ll spend a large amount of time doing basic things including cleaning, communicating with customers, and putting air in tires. You’ll also essentially be shadowing a reputable mechanic, watching as they work. Being a mechanic’s assistant is similar to being an intern, and is a perfect way to begin a career in the automotive field.
1. Entry-level technician
Many auto shops and mobile mechanic programs, such as YourMechanic, will hire entry-level technicians. An entry-level technician is a mechanic with strong basic knowledge, but maybe isn’t equipped to handle every possible automotive problem. For instance, if you are comfortable assessing, repairing, and replacing brakes, AC and heating systems, fluids, and electrical components, but aren’t as comfortable with some of the more advanced work, such as advanced diagnostics and deeper engine repairs, then you may be perfectly set up for a role as an entry-level technician. You can simply take the work that’s in your wheelhouse, and leave the rest for more advanced mechanics.
Being a general mechanic is a great job if you love working on cars, but you most likely have to work your way into that position. Any one of these entry level mechanic jobs is a great way for a beginner or intermediate technician to gain more knowledge and experience.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as 10 Best Entry-Level Auto Mechanic Jobs and was authored by Brady Klopfer.