The fastest way to become a mechanic is to attend a mechanical trade school. Mechanic trade schools train you to become an automotive mechanic in a short time and start earning.
So, learn about the best trade or technical schools for auto mechanics where you can get a certificate and start your career in no time.
While some people think a mechanic job is too strenuous and low-paying, some others desire to be mechanics. This other set of people derives joy in getting things fixed. However, no one will entrust you to fix their cars all because you love to get things fixed. So, you see, you’ll need some education and certification.
Mechanical trade school is where to get the education you need and in this post, we will tell you why. We would also show you the best trade schools for auto mechanics with their programs. Finally, we will answer every relevant question relating to this topic.
Table of contents
- Why Trade School?
- What are the Types of Mechanics?
- Who is an Auto Mechanic?
- What is the Auto Mechanic’s Salary?
- What Qualifications Do I Need to Become an Auto Mechanic?
- Best Mechanical Trade Schools
- Best Mechanical Trade School in Arizona
- Best Mechanical Trade School in New Mexico
- Best Mechanical Trade School in New York
- Best Mechanical Trade School in Texas
- Online Automotive Mechanic Schools
Why Trade School?
Trade school is simply a vocational school. Also, people will often interchange trade schools for career colleges, technical schools, and vocational schools. We will do the same in this post, so flow smoothly along with us.
Just like the name, a trade school is a career-specific school. These schools prepare you for certain vocations that are in high demand. They are usually not concerned about a broad spectrum of knowledge which may or may not come handy to you. So, if you want to become a welder, a technical school will focus your training on only the knowledge you need for welding.
In that way, you don’t spend too much time training for a career. So you see, instead of taking a four-to-five year mechanical engineering program in a traditional college, mechanics will take just two years in a trade school to become a mechanic.
Thus, you must be certain about your career. You should attend a trade school because you want to be a mechanic and not because you want to learn how to build machines.
Moving on, trade schools charge less tuition than traditional colleges. The reason is clear – they are program-specific and take less time to complete. Where traditional colleges charge tuition fees between $8,000 and $27,000 per year (minus grants and scholarships), technical schools charge between $4,000 and $15,000. So, you don’t have to spend too much to become what you’ve always desired to become.
Generally, Trade schools have the following attractions:
- Shorter completion time;
- Certificate offering;
- Small class size;
- Hands-on training;
- Externship Opportunities – Job placement in the industry where you’ll work in the position you aspire to gain experience;
- Employer Connection; and
- Job security.
What are the Types of Mechanics?
When we talk about attending a trade school to become a mechanic, we are passing an ambiguous message. This is not the intention of this post, so we will show you the different kinds of mechanics that exist. We will then narrow down to the kind of mechanic we are referring to by using the term “mechanic.”
So, here is the list of the various kind of mechanics you can become:
- Auto Mechanics
- Aircraft Mechanics
- Diesel Mechanics
- Heavy Duty Mechanic
- Motorcycle Mechanic
- Small Engine Mechanics
- Boat Mechanics
- Auto Body Mechanics
- Tire Mechanics
- Auto Glass Mechanic
- Race Car Mechanics
- Bicycle Mechanics
- Air Conditioning Mechanics
- Plumbing Mechanic
- Line Mechanic
- Auto Exhaust Mechanic
- Auto Exhaust Mechanic
You will notice from our list that “AUTO” is the one word that featured the most. So, yes, we are referring to Auto or Automotive Mechanics when we say “Mechanic.”
Are you asking yourself What You Can Do With An Automotive Technology? See Career & Salary
However, to be very clear on the topic, we will be using Auto or Automotive Mechanic more often.
Who is an Auto Mechanic?
An auto mechanic is a professional with the training and skills to maintain and repair motor vehicles. These professionals can work on a wide variety of motor vehicles including personal cars, fleet, heavy-duty vehicles, and marine vehicles.
The auto mechanic or automotive mechanic mainly inspects, maintains, and repair all types of vehicles. But there could be specific duties the mechanic does, depending on his training.
Specifically, the auto mechanic’s responsibilities involve the following:
- Inspect vehicle engine and mechanical/electrical components to accurately detect faults;
- Inspect vehicle computer and electronic systems for the purpose of repairing, maintaining, and upgrading;
- Conduct routine maintenance work such as replacing fluids, lubricating parts etc., to help the vehicle function well and last long;
- Plan and schedule future maintenance sessions and advise motorists on good vehicle use;
- Repair or replace broken or dysfunctional parts and fix issues such as leaks;
- Provide the right cost, time, and effort estimates for a repair or maintenance job;
- Keep logs on work and vehicle faults; and
- Keep equipment and tools in good condition.
An auto mechanic is mostly interested in vehicles, so he will find a job anywhere there are vehicles – which is just about anyplace. So, an auto mechanic can work in government agencies; repair shops; gas stations; and automotive parts, accessories, and tyre stores.
However, most auto mechanics work for automobile dealers or in the automotive repair and maintenance industry.
Learn how to be a mechanic by following this Step by Step Guide on how to become a Mechanic
What is the Auto Mechanic’s Salary?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual pay of Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics is $40,710. In hours, they earn $19.57 per hour. Though this pay may not be as large you had imagined, it is a five-figure salary nonetheless. Especially for a job where you don’t need a university degree.
Glassdoor estimates a higher pay of $41,516 per year for automotive mechanics. This pay even gets better depending on the company you’re working for.
Companies with higher pay for auto mechanics include:
- Volkswagen – $42,258/yr
- PennDOT – $43,168/yr
- US Postal Service – $51,933/yr
- Ford Motor Company – $52,114/yr
- County of DuPage (Illinois) – $58,421/yr
As of 2016, BLS estimated the job growth for mechanics to be 6% from 2016 to 2026. However, in 2018, BLS identified 770,100 Mechanic jobs in the USA and estimated growth of -1% from 2018 to 2028. The drop in percentage signifies that there is little or no change in the number of jobs for mechanics within this period.
Nonetheless, the total number of mechanics job reduced by 6,400 in 2018. In the years to come, these figures may put a smile on your face.
One thing is certain – there is job security for mechanics. We must still drive vehicles way into the next century and they would surely need maintenance if not repairs. So, the mechanic will always come in handy.
What Qualifications Do I Need to Become an Auto Mechanic?
Like many careers out there, you must first complete high school and get a high school degree or its equivalent. This is very important as it is the prerequisite for the next level of training.
Now, the next level of training for Mechanics is a technical school or Community College. The technical school gives you a certificate or diploma and prepares you for the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) Certification Exam. The Community College, on the other hand, provides you with an Associate’s Degree on completion.
You can also check out these 50 Best U.S. Community Colleges
However, most employers prefer automotive mechanics who attended trade schools because they know they have the right entry-level experience they’re looking for.
Meanwhile, if you choose not to attend a trade school, you’ll start as a trainee tech, technician helper, or lubrication worker. These positions will pay you lower than you will earn acquiring a mechanic certificate from a trade school.
However, before selecting a mechanical trade school, ensure that its program has accreditation by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF).
As you progress in your career, you will need to sit for the ASE Certification exam. This certificate is something employers are looking for as it demonstrates that you are competent in the field.
Meanwhile, you can get ASE certification in these nine (9) different automobile speciality areas:
- Automatic transmission/transaxle brakes;
- Light vehicle diesel engines; Electrical/electronic systems;
- Engine performance;
- Engine repair;
- Heating and air-conditioning;
- Manual drivetrain and axles; and
- Suspension and steering.
How Do I Get Mechanic Licenses and Certifications?
Like we stated earlier, you may need to get certificates or licenses as you progress in your mechanic profession. However, there is no directive stating that mechanics must gain a license to practice the profession.
Gaining certificates and licenses only shows your level of commitment to your job, and some employers may actually require you to provide certification before they hire you.
So, basically, the certificates you require as you move up the ladder of your career are the Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certificate and the ASE Master Certification.
Automotive Service Excellence (ASE)
NATEF provides this certification and you can sit for the exam only after you’ve gained two years of on-the-job training or one year of work experience and a two-year degree. If you meet these qualifications, head over to the NATEF website and take their practice tests to prepare you for the certification exam.
Note, however, that once you take this certification test, you must sit for it again after five (5) years to renew your certification. Practice Tests
ASE Master Certification
This is like the master’s degree for professional mechanics only mechanics don’t need to attend college for a full yeat to acquire it. The idea behind this certification is specialization. It is for mechanics who wish to acquire advanced skills in a certain mechanic specialization.
So, all you need do is prepare for and take tests in your chosen speciality. Specialities you can take tests include automobiles, truck equipment, school buses, collision repair, diesel engines, brakes, suspension, and steering, etc.
Unlike the ASE, National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence administers the ASE Master Certification. However, like ASE, once you gain this certificate, you must renew after five (5) years.
You should also see these 30 Free Online Education Courses With Certificates.
Best Mechanical Trade Schools
We are quite certain that you don’t want to start out as a trainee tech or a technician helper. For this reason, we are bringing you the best trade schools for auto mechanics.
Also, we can go ahead to list out mechanic tech schools that we feel are just perfect for you but you should know that there are locations in the US notable for their technical schools for mechanics.
These locations are:
- New Mexico;
- New York; and
So, we will instead pick our best 13 trade schools for auto mechanics from these popular four locations.
We ranked the Best 13 Trade schools from the four popular mechanics states in the USA using the following criteria:
- Number of Mechanics Programs;
- Program Accreditation; and
- Student-to-Faculty Ratio.
So, we have ensured that all the schools in our list have accreditation by NATEF. This places all the best schools on the same plane. However, the number of programs they offer and the student-to-faculty ratio is what sets them apart from each other.
Meanwhile, we placed more emphasis on the number of mechanic programs the schools offer.
Best Mechanical Trade School in Arizona
Arizona is one of the states in the United States with a thriving mechanics industry. There are over 500 companies and twice as many businesses in the automotive field in Arizona. Thus, it is not only a location to start or continue your auto mechanic career but also a perfect location to get a mechanic education or training.
Here are the top three trade schools for auto mechanics in Arizona.
- Arizona Western College
- Universal Technical Institute
- Arizona Automotive Institute
1. Arizona Western College
Address: 2020 S Ave 8 E, Yuma, AZ 85365, USA.
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 20:1
Arizona Western College (AWC) is a public community college in Arizona State. It began operation in 1963 and offers associates degrees, occupational certificates, and transfer degrees to its over 11,000 students.
It is one of the best technical schools for mechanics where they can acquire degrees, certificates, or specialized training. AWC offers degrees and certificates in Automotive Technology, Electrical Technology, Basic Air Conditioning & Refrigeration, Service Technician, and Welding.
Also, you can take manufacturers specific training at AWC in Automotive Computer Fundamentals Engine, Performance, and Diagnostics, Automotive Brakes, Suspension, etc.
2. Universal Technical Institute
Address: 10695 West Pierce Street, Avondale, AZ 85323, USA.
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 35:1
Universal Technical Institute, Inc. (UTI) is a private, for-profit mechanic tech school in Arizona. It began in 1965 and has branches around the country, with over 11,000 students.
UTI provides an Automotive certificate programs program that trains on a variety of automobile brands including BMW, Ford, and General Motors. Also, it offers Motorcycle, Marine, Diesel, CNC Machining, Collision Repair, and Welding Programs.
Having a good number of branches in other locations such as Texas, New Jersey, Illinois, Florida, etc, UTI is one of the best trade schools for auto mechanics.
3. Arizona Automotive Institute
Address: 6829 N. 46th Ave, Glendale, AZ 85301, USA.
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 24:1
Arizona Automotive Institute (AAI) is another wonderful mechanic trade school in Arizona where you can take one of the best mechanic programs. The school began operation in 1968 and has been delivering excellent training and programs ever since.
Meanwhile, AAI offers just four mechanics programs – three (3) degree programs and one certificate program. AAI’s diploma degree programs are the Automotive Service Technology, Combination Welding, and Diesel – Heavy Truck.
Its certificate program, on the other hand, is the Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Basic Refrigeration that combines practicals and hands‐on job skills training.
If you’ll prefer to study at a University in Arizona, instead of a trade school, then see Study at the University of Arizona: Admission, Courses, Ranking, Jobs, Tuition Fees.
Best Mechanical Trade School in New Mexico
New Mexico is another wonderful location for mechanics. The state has seven (7) automotive mechanics schools that you can choose from. But we will give you the best three. One of the beauties of studying a mechanic program in New Mexico is that the living cost is relatively low. This also translates into the amount their mechanic tech schools charge as tuition fees – really affordable.
So, here are the top three trade schools for auto mechanics in New Mexico.
- IntelliTec College
- Luna Community College
- Central New Mexico Community College
1. IntelliTec College
Address: 5001 Montgomery Blvd NE, Suite A24, Albuquerque, NM 87109, United States.
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 15:1
IntelliTec College is another of the best mechanic tech schools in the USA. This college began operation as a for-profit technical school in 1965 at Colorado Springs. This mechanical trade school has a branch in New Mexico, however, and offers associates and professional degree programs.
While IntelliTec is one of the best trade schools for auto mechanics, it offers only two mechanics programs. However, these programs are certificate programs that give you all the theoretical and practical knowledge you need in ten and a half (10.5) months.
IntelliTec’s mechanical programs are the Automotive Technician and Refrigeration and HVAC Technician Program.
2. Luna Community College
Address: 336 Luna Drive, Las Vegas, NM 87701, USA.
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 16:1
Luna Community College is another exclusive automotive mechanic tech school in New Mexico and the USA. This technical school began in 1969 in Las Vegas, New Mexico as a Public Community College. Although this mechanical trade school almost lost its accreditation due to poor governance in 2017, the college still offers some of the best programs for mechanics.
Its programs are the Automotive Mechanics Technology, and the Collision and Repair Technology. Both of these programs are professional certificate programs that students learn in small classes.
3. Central New Mexico Community College
Address: 525 Buena Vista SE, Albuquerque, NM 87106, USA.
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 23:1
Central New Mexico Community College (CNM) is another of the best trade schools for auto mechanics in New Mexico. This mechanics community college used to be the Technical Vocational Institute (VTI), which started in 1964. It is a large community college offering full-time and part-time associates degree and certificate program to over 22,000 students.
Meanwhile, CNM offers two Mechanics programs. These are the Automotive Technology, and Diesel Equipment Technology programs. These programs are professional certificate programs that are affordable and excellent.
You can also study to be a chef in a trade school. See these Top 50 Culinary Schools.
Best Mechanical Trade School in New York
New York is one of the states in the US with many registered automobiles – over 11 million vehicles. It is only rational that the state will need a large number of mechanics to see to the maintenance and repair of these vehicles. And with a large number of mechanics come a large number of mechanical trade schools. Of course, you should expect the best from the Empire States!
With that in mind, here are the best three (3) technical schools for mechanics in New York.
- Lincoln Tech
- Superior Auto Institute
1. Lincoln Tech
Address: 1 Pierrepont Plaza, 12th Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201, USA.
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 15:1
Lincoln Tech is one very popular trade school in the USA. It began in 1946 at Wet Orange, New Jersey and now has 23 locations in 14 states including New York, Texas, Tennessee, Maryland, and Indiana. With over 10,000 students and instructors with years of industry experience, Lincoln Tech is one of the best trade schools for auto mechanics to get a mechanics degree or certificate.
Lincoln’s mechanic programs are the Automotive Technology, CNC Machining & Manufacturing, Collision Repair & Refinishing, Diesel Technology, and Heavy Equipment program.
Address: 178-18 Liberty Ave, Jamaica, NY 11433, USA.
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 12:1
NYADI – The College of Transportation technology – is one of the best technical schools for mechanics in the USA. Not only is the tech school dedicated purely for mechanics but also they are one of the trade schools that offers the most number of mechanic programs. Furthermore, NYADI offers its program in both Day and Evening classes and is military-friendly.
NYADI’s mechanic programs involve two (2) degree programs and three certificate programs. The degree programs are Automotive & Diesel Technology and Automotive Technology. On the other hand, its certificate programs are the Truck & Diesel Service Technology, Automotive Service Technology, and Collision Repair technology.
3. Superior Auto Institute
Address: 120 19th St, Brooklyn, NY 11232, United States.
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 1:1
Superior Auto Institute is another wholly automotive mechanic tech school in the USA. It began operation in 1992 and is popular for its Paintless Dent Repair (PDR) program. Through its 27 years of training students in PDR, they have won the trust of auto companies like BMW, Rolls Royce, and Ferrari.
However, in addition to PDR, SAI also training in Interior Repair and Automotive Detailing, making them one of the best trade schools for auto mechanics who are interested in auto interior and exterior look.
Best Mechanical Trade School in Texas
You can say Texas is the automotive industry and you wouldn’t be wrong. It seems like mechanical trade schools in other states must have a branch in Texas or they haven’t started. Automotive mechanic tech schools like Universal Technical Institute and Lincoln Tech have a branch at Texas. Thus, we would proceed to mention the other amazing technical schools for mechanics in Texas that isn’t already on our list
So, here are the best four (4) technical schools for mechanics in Texas.
- Texas State Technical College
- South Texas Vocational Technical Institute – San Antonio
- SAM Tech
- Southern Careers Institute – Austin
1. Texas State Technical College
Address: 3801 Campus Drive Waco, TX 76705. The United States.
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 13:1
Texas State Technical College (TSTC) is one of the biggest automotive mechanic tech schools in Texas. It began in 1969 at Waco, Texan and now has 10 campuses throughout Texas. Also, through TSTc’s consistency in delivering quality mechanic programs all over Texas, it is one of the best technical schools for mechanics in the USA.
Furthermore, TSTC is one of the technical schools providing mechanics program varieties. Its mechanics programs include Auto Collision & Management Technology, Automotive Technology, Diesel Equipment Technology, HVAC Technology, and Welding Technology.
2. South Texas Vocational Technical Institute – San Antonio
Address: 734 SE Military Dr, San Antonio, TX 78214, United States.
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 18:1
South Texas Vocational Technical Institute (STVT) is another of the best trade schools for auto mechanics in Texas and the USA in general. The school’s programs aim at equipping students upon graduation with the ability to launch their careers through the intensive hands-on learning they got. Furthermore, STVT’s programs are in the Health and Wellness, Skilled Trades, and Business Categories.
Its mechanic program is in the Skilled Trades category. Here, you can enroll for either the Air Conditioning Heating and Refrigeration, Automotive Service Technician, CDL, Combination Welding, or Diesel Heavy Truck programs.
You could apply one or more of these 30 Best Scholarships In Texas to your mechanical trade school education.
3. SAM Tech
Address: 1911 Antoine Dr., Houston, Texas 77055, USA.
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 16:1
The School of Automotive Machinists & Technology (SAM Tech) is one of the best automotive mechanic tech schools you can find out there. This mechanic tech school provides machining and technical education training for students who want to join the high-performance racing industry. Thus, SAM Tech students go on to join championship teams like NASCAR, NHRA, and IndyCar.
Meanwhile, SAM Tech offers certificate and Associate Degree Programs in Engine Block Machining, Cylinder Head Machining, CNC Machining, and EFI Tuning.
4. Southern Careers Institute – Austin
Address: 1701 W Ben White Blvd., Suite 100 Austin, TX 78704, USA.
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 32:1
Southern Careers Institute (SCI) is another heavyweight automotive mechanic tech school in Texas. While it has a main campus in Austin, it has seven other campuses in Texas including Brownsville, Harlingen, and San Antonio. Additionally, SCI offers 22 Programs and 31 Certificates while producing graduates who are marketable in their industry.
Meanwhile, SCI’s mechanics programs are under the school’s Skilled Trades category. These programs include Automotive Service Technician, Commercial Motor Vehicle Operator, HVAC, Welding, and Electrical Technician.
Online Automotive Mechanic Schools
You can actually take courses online in your quest to gain knowledge on the field. However, these programs do not meet ASE certification requirements. So, online mechanic programs do not prepare you for a career as an auto mechanic.
If mechanics is just a hobby to you, or you want to gain enough text-based knowledge to prepare you for the ASE certification, then you can take an online program.
Meanwhile, mechanics courses you can take online include Vehicle systems, Inspection Techniques, and Engine Repair. These programs may not give you the required hands-on experience you need to become a mechanic, however.
Do you still want to go ahead with online mechanic schools? Check out these schools:
- Penn Foster
- Ashworth College
- Texas State Technical College
- NYADI – The College of Transportation technology
- Southern Careers Institute – Austin
If you’re in Texas and you’ll like to attend an online community college, see these Cheapest Online Community Colleges in Texas
To become a mechanic, you must first finish high school, then go ahead to attend a trade school or community college. You will need a two-year diploma or associate’s degree from a mechanic trade school to begin your career as a mechanic. However, with certificates acquired from certificate programs of less than a year, you can still get employed.
The type of program you enroll for in an auto mechanic school determines how long you will study. Certificate programs lasts anwhere from 6 to 18 months, while diploma and associate programs lasts for two years.
To become a certified mechanic you must take Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certificate tests. However, to qualify for the ASE, you must have spent at least two years working on the job or one year work experience plus a two-year degree. This means that you can become a certified mechanic after two to three years of education and training.
You need to acquire a mechanic certificate or diploma from a community college or an associate’s degree to be a car mechanic.
It is not common to become a mechanic online because online mechanic programs don’t meet ASE certification requirements. Online programs only build you with the theoretical knowledge you need to sit for and pass the ASE test.
It costs anywhere from $5,000 to $25,000 to complete a mechanic program and become a mechanic. Mechanic certificate programs are cheaper as they take lesser time to complete. It costs between $5,000 to $6,000. Mechanics Associate’s degree, on the other hand, costs more (between $10,000 and $25,000) for its two-year duration. Additionally, Out-of-State students pay more on tuition than In-State students.
To get your mechanic’s license, ensure to meet National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF) test requirements then proceed to Automotive Service Excellence’s (ASE) website to take practice tests that will prepare you for the mechanic license.
Mechanics receive a decent wage. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), automotive technicians receive an annual average wage of $40,710.
Yes, you can become a mechanic without a license. Some states in the USA do not require you to have certification before you become a mechanic. However, most employers will require you to have some level of education, training, and hands-on experience.
It is not enough to have the desire to become a mechanic. You also have to gain relevant education and hands-on training before you become employable enough as a mechanic. The good news is that you can start working as a mechanic once you’ve completed at least a six-month mechanics program. However, you need a mechanical trade school for that. Do more than a six-month certificate program in a mechanic specialization. Complete a two-year associate’s program, gain one year of work experience and become a certified mechanic.
- Trade School Future – How to Become a Mechanic
- Accredited Schools Online – Auto Mechanic Schools & Training Programs
- Automotive Service excellence – Master Status
- Bureau of Labor Statistics – Occupational Outlook Handbook: Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics
- Glassdoor – Automotive Mechanic Salaries
- Workable – Auto Mechanic job description
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