I am often asked how I started my auto repair career and to provide advice about how others can get started in the field. People also ask me if formal automotive training is required to get into the business and obtain certification.
Although formal training is not required I do highly recommend it. I fully understand why people would want to bypass this step and attempt to learn what is required with hands-on experience and learning materials that can be purchased. Technical career schools can be expensive and require a huge time investment.
Below I will describe how I got started and the path I chose. Back in 1984 the factory sponsored training program I selected was quite unique. But today these types of programs are actually much more common. I will also supply several reasons for seeking out a formal education.
In my senior year of high school I enrolled in auto shop class. This was not because I actually liked to fix cars it was because my first car was a piece of junk and needed to be fixed often.
In this class where 30 die hard mechanic wannabes. As we approached our graduation the guys in the class started planning on attending standard technical schools that were available in the area. I lived in a suburb of Philadelphia and there were several reputable automotive technical schools in the city.
At the time these two year programs were about $5000 a year. Since I had to pay for any continuing education myself I decided to investigate less expensive options. The local community college was starting a new auto repair career program that was sponsored by General Motors. This program was known as A.S.E.P. (automotive service educational program).
It was designed to
teach automotive technology specifically for General Motors vehicles. This was the main reason the other guys I went to school with where
not interested in the program. They did not want to learn about just one
type of car. But this program was available at half the cost so I went
for it. Lack of money and fear are good motivators.
This was the best move I ever made in my auto repair career. Specializing in a specific brand vehicle and receiving factory documented training gives a leg up in the job market. When you focus on one brand you can become an expert with that product quicker then if you trained in general informational categories.
When comparing my auto repair career with the other mechanics from my high school class I was able to make more money in a shorter period of time. I was concentrating on one brand. They were learning about many cars including Asian and German. They were hit with so much information over a two-year period they never really got to master anything.
When you first get started in the business it's hard to find a good paying position. In most cases you won't start making good money until you have some experience and some certifications. In order to take the ASE certification tests you need two years of documented experience. Recognized training can count towards this requirement.
When you start to fill out job applications the fact you graduated a training program shows a commitment to the career. Mechanics showing commitment through class time and certification can get higher pay. Now that 25 years has passed I can compare wages with the guys from high school shop class. We make about the same now.
I made more at the start because I specialized. My employment opportunities were limited to General Motors dealerships at first. But after I got my ASE certifications and had 10 years of working experience I was able to get a job with a local government fleet.
In closing my recommendation would be to look into factory sponsored training programs at your local community colleges. General Motors, Ford, Toyota and Honda all have preferred training programs.
Getting involved with one of these can also provide job placement assistance. In some areas of the country there may not be factory programs available. In this case automotive technical schools are still a good choice and provide excellent training and will count as experience towards your ASE tests.
Even if you decide to enroll into a formal automobile training class it
is a good idea to study ahead and expose yourself to as much information
as possible. On this next page are a few of my recommendations for
reference materials to help with your auto repair career.
If you're interested in taking ASE tests I strongly recommend that you take a look at the ASE study guides. I use them myself to study for the re-certification tests.
For more information on what is available on the you fix cars website this next link will take you back to the homepage. You can also find out how to ask car repair questions the YouFixCars.com Homepage.