If you like to understand how things work and would love a job where you work with your hands and mind in equal measure, then a career as a mechanic could be just for you. This varied profession will not only push your mental capacities to their limits, but also give you the chance to get hands-on with the problems you’re solving in a way that’s increasingly rare today.
If this career sounds appealing, then read on to find out our top tips on how to get started as a mechanic.
Earn your qualifications
The first step on the road to becoming a fully-qualified mechanic is to get the relevant qualifications. There are two ways to do this: through college or an apprenticeship.
There are three courses that will give you the relevant qualifications to become a mechanic: a Level 1 Certificate in Vehicle Maintenance, a Level 2 Certificate in Light Vehicle Maintenance and Repair Principles, and a Level 2 Certificate in Vehicle Technology. By spending two years gaining one of these qualifications, you’ll enhance your earning potential when you enter the workforce, making it an excellent option for those who feel they learn best in a classroom.
If you’re thinking of applying to college, use Unistats to compare the official course data from each of your local colleges — this includes test scores and information about the jobs and salaries those who took the course in the past achieved after study. The easiest way to apply for your course of choice is directly through UCAS.
The other way to earn your qualifications is through an apprenticeship in vehicle mechanics. This route will give you the kind of real-world experience that is impossible to gain in a classroom. It also allows you to earn while you learn, as well as boost your employment opportunities by giving you a few years on the job before you enter the workforce on a permanent, full-time basis.
Fraser Ross is a vehicle mechanic apprentice for Lookers, and won their Apprentice of the Year award in 2015. He said: “It can be nerve-racking performing a task for the first time at work, but the support systems that are in place as part of an apprenticeship are so good you can be sure you’re never going to fail. This gives you the opportunity to take on really challenging jobs with the comfort of a safety net, which give you the kind of confidence you wouldn’t otherwise have.”
If you think an apprenticeship sounds like the right option for you, then use the government’s find an apprenticeship tool to find one in your local area. Before you apply, make sure to take a look at our top tips for applying to an apprenticeship to give yourself the best possible chance of having your application accepted.
Plan your career trajectory
Once you’ve landed a permanent position as a mechanic after you’ve completed your college course or apprenticeship, you should start thinking about earning your Level 3 and then Level 4 diplomas. The highest of these is a qualification as a master mechanic — the highest position in the profession, which comes with plenty of earning potential. You can work towards these industry qualifications on the job.
As you progress along your career, you should look to specialise in working with one vehicle or one particular type of maintenance, such as MOT testing. You’ll be able to earn a lot more as a master of one trade than a jack of several, and choosing your specialism as early in your career as possible will give you a head start, so keep this in mind from the very beginning of your career.
If you love to fix things, work with your hands, and test your problem-solving abilities, then a career as a mechanic could be the perfect fit for you. Follow these top tips for the best chance of getting your foot on this lucrative career ladder as possible.