In Summary - Mechanic / Automotive Technician
Mechanic / Automotive Technicians typically work in the following Career Sectors:
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The Work - Mechanic / Automotive Technician
The increasing use of computers and electronic components in vehicles has changed this job title from Mechanic to Automobile Technician.
Mechanics use their skills to service, overhaul and repair a wide variety of mechanical devices. There are many different types of mechanic, for example:
Motor mechanics carry out the routine servicing and repair of cars and other light vehicles such as vans and motorcycles. A vehicle may be due for a service after it has travelled a certain number of kilometres or after a certain period of time, according to instructions set out by the vehicle's manufacturers. Mechanics also repair vehicles that have broken down or been involved in accidents.
Servicing involves making routine checks according to a list, finding faults or problems, overhauling or replacing worn or faulty parts, and using special equipment and road tests to make sure the vehicle performs as it should. Sometimes customers take their vehicles to mechanics to investigate a particular mechanical fault.
Solving these problems may involve stripping down the affected part of the car on a bench or in a workshop area, finding the faulty components and replacing them, and then putting all the parts together again. Mechanics tend to replace parts rather than repair them because this is quicker and therefore less costly.
During the course of their work, mechanics also deal with electrical and electronic systems, which are becoming more and more sophisticated on modern vehicles. For example, mechanics may connect laptop computers to a vehicle's electronic control unit, using an on-screen menu to choose the part of the vehicle they want to investigate. The computer is able to find and report back information on the fault, for example, a break in circuit wiring.
With older vehicles, mechanics use electrical testing equipment like voltmeters and ammeters to test electric circuits/components.
Some mechanics go out to vehicles that have broken down or been damaged in accidents. They may be able to repair on the roadside, depending on the fault or tow the vehicle back to their work station to assess any damage or unseen problems.
Mechanics are also responsible for pre-delivery inspections. These are done to ensure a vehicle is working well and performing as it should before it is delivered to the customer. Mechanics use specialised equipment to measure things like engine and brake performance, transmission and the accuracy of dashboard indicators.
Heavy vehicle Mechanics
Work on trucks, buses, coaches and other heavy vehicles. It is very costly for a road haulage, bus or coach company to have a vehicle off the road and not earning money, so the mechanic's work is very important. Each vehicle is serviced after a specified length of time or kilometres, to replace, repair or adjust any worn parts and generally check, tune and adjust for good performance.
As part of a routine service, mechanics check and change oil, and check and adjust brakes and steering. Parts for heavy vehicles are often more expensive than those for light vehicles, so mechanics usually have to repair rather than replace any faulty items they find.
Mechanics usually cover the mechanical, hydraulic and pneumatic aspects of vehicles while auto-electricians specialise in their electrical and electronic systems. Mechanics use a wide range of hand and power tools and measuring devices. They use jacks and hoists to lift and move heavy items. They may refer to technical manuals and drawings during their work.
The work involves standing, crouching and lying under vehicles, and reaching into awkward spaces in the engine compartment. Mechanics may have to drive out to breakdowns to make repairs on the spot in all weathers or to bring back the vehicle.
Work on machines like harvesters, mowers, balers and chain saws. The work of agricultural mechanics ranges from the repair of agricultural tractors, light and heavy commercial trucks and vans, earth-moving track machines, forklift trucks and farm machines.
Motorcycle mechanics service, repair and customise motorbikes, scooters and mopeds. The type of work done by mechanics can depend on the size of the organisation they work for. In a large dealership, they may spend all their time in the workshop; in a small, specialised shop, they may spend some time selling bikes and accessories to customers.
New bikes usually arrive at the workplace in crates. The mechanics unpack them and assemble them before testing to see that they are safe and work properly. They then polish them, ready for display in the show room.
Once a bike has been sold, mechanics follow set routine, checking for worn or faulty parts and replacing components like spark plugs, filters and oil.
Motorcycle mechanics are also required to carry out routine services at certain times. During these routine checks they inspect and clean brakes, plugs, carburettors and other parts. When a customer reports a fault, mechanics use their fault-finding skills to find out what is wrong and decide on a solution. They may have to strip down and re-build part of the bike or its engine; they do this using hand and power tools. If a part is broken the mechanics may have to repair or replace it. Estimates need to given to customers before any work is undertaken.
Mechanics may pass on electrical problems to a specialist. Modern bikes have very complex electronic systems; some of the latest models have computer technology.
Motorcycle mechanics normally wear overalls; the work is very dirty. It can also be noisy in the workshop. Motorcycle mechanics use tools such as wrenches, pliers, drills and grinders.
Interests - Mechanic / Automotive Technician
This occupation is typically suited for people with the following Career Interests:
Realists are usually interested in 'things' - such as buildings, mechanics, equipment, tools, electronics etc. Their primary focus is dealing with these - as in building, fixing, operating or designing them. Involvement in these areas leads to high manual skills, or a fine aptitude for practical design - as found in the various forms of engineering.
Realists like to find practical solutions to problems using tools, technology and skilled work. Realists usually prefer to be active in their work environment, often do most of their work alone, and enjoy taking decisive action with a minimum amount of discussion and paperwork.
The Investigative person will usually find a particular area of science to be of interest. They are inclined toward intellectual and analytical activities and enjoy observation and theory. They may prefer thought to action, and enjoy the challenge of solving problems with sophiscticated technology. These types prefer mentally stimulating environments and often pay close attention to developments in their chosen field.
Entants to this career area:
- Should be physically fit
- Must pass a colour-vision test
- Aptitude for handling tools and equipment
- Aptitude for Maths
- Mechanical Aptitude
- Problem solving skills for diagnosing the machines’ malfunction
- Computer skills
- Good reading skills for studying service manuals and analysing complex diagrams.
Motor Mechanics need to be methodical and able to work at speed. Good hand skills and co-ordination are essential. You will also need nimble fingers to handle small components and hand tools.
The job can be physically demanding, and you can spend a lot of time on your feet. You need to be physically fit to cope with bending, lifting and stretching.
You should be logical and patient in tracing faults, and have good organisational skills to prioritise your workload. It is important for mechanics to have good communication skills because they may need to explain faults and repairs clearly to customers. You need good computer skills and some electrical/electronic skills.
A willingness to learn and develop your knowledge is also important as the technology and industry changes and you will need to keep up-to-date with latest developments.
For many types of mechanic, a full, clean driving licence is essential; this will depend on the area you work in and the duties you have.
Not having allergies to grease, oil or petrol would also be important.
Entry Requirements - Mechanic / Automotive Technician
The official entry route for a Mechanic / Automotive Technician is through undertaking an apprenticeship.
The route to this career area is through a four-year apprenticeship. Most of your learning is on the job in the garage or workshop with Master Technicians, with 3 phases of full time study totalling 40 weeks. The first phase of full time study is with SOLAS (Formerly FAS), the second and third with an Institute of Technology or College.
The minimum entry requirement is at that you are at least 16 years old and have at least a grade D in any 5 subjects in the Junior Certificate (or equivalent grades in other approved examinations). Some employers will look for more than this – up to Leaving Certificate.
Maths, physics, technical drawing, metal work, technology and engineering are particularly relevant school subjects.
The craft of Mechanic is designated for Apprenticeship Training and as such is governed by the Statutory Apprenticeship rules that have been made by SOLAS (Formerly FAS):
Last Updated: March, 2015
Pay & Salary - Mechanic / Automotive Technician
Salary Range (thousands per year)* 13k - 34k
Apprentice Rates: 13 - 16
Qualified / Experienced: 22 - 34
SOLAS / PayScale.com
Last Updated: March, 2017
* The lower figures typically reflect starting salaries. Higher salaries are awarded to those with greater experience and responsibility. Positions in Dublin sometimes command higher salaries.