Streets would look more like auto scrapyards without mechanics to fix people's trucks and automobiles. But mechanics also keep airplanes and industrial machines running smoothly. All mechanics test parts, identify mechanical problems and follow checklists to replace parts and make repairs. If you are interested in becoming a mechanic, job requirements can vary for each industry.
The general requirement to get started as an auto, avionics or industrial mechanic is a high school diploma or GED equivalent. But more industrial machinery mechanics are getting two-year associate's degrees in industrial maintenance, while some obtain bachelor's degrees. If you are interested in becoming an aircraft mechanic, you must spend 18 to 24 months in an FAA-approved Aviation Maintenance Technical School, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, learning how to use the various tools and equipment. FAA stands for Federal Aviation Administration.
Auto mechanics usually get their training on the job, and it takes two to five years to become a fully qualified auto service technician. If you want to familiarize yourself with all types of auto repairs, it would take one or two additional years of training. Training for aircraft mechanics is part of the 18- to- 24-month FAA curricula, where you learn to apply mechanical drawing, physics and chemical engineering in repairing turbine engines and aviation electronics. If you are an industrial machinery mechanic, your on-the-job training lasts several months to a year. You learn how to read blueprints, weld, repair electronics on machines and use diagnostic computers.
Of all the mechanics, only auto mechanics who buy or use refrigerants need licenses. But both auto and aircraft mechanics must be certified. If you are an auto mechanic, you get certified in eight areas – including transmission, brakes and electrical systems – through the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. Aircraft mechanics get certified once they complete their FAA training, specializing in either airframe or engine mechanics. Certification is optional if you are an industrial machinery mechanic, but it can increase your employment opportunities.
All mechanics need to be detail-oriented when identifying problems with parts, and then determining whether to replace or fix them. But as an auto mechanic, you need customer service skills to explain problems to customers and help them make affordable decisions on repairs. The aircraft mechanic must be more agile than other mechanics in climbing atop airplanes and fixing remote parts such as rudders and ailerons, which are on the edge of the wings. And industrial machinery mechanics need extraordinary problem-solving skills to fix complex factory or construction machines.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: How to Become an Automotive Service Technician or Mechanic
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment Statistics: Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics
- MyPlan.com: Automotive Master Mechanics
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: How to Become an Automotive Service Technician or Mechanic
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: How to Become an Industrial Machinery Mechanics and Maintenance Worker
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