Friday, May 16, 2008

How To Become A Mechanic-What Does It Take?

If you are interested in how to become a mechanic there are different avenues you can take. There is online training, vocational training [at a community college] or if you have experience already and want to get certified then you can challenge the trade qualification exam. If you want to specialize you may want to locate diesel tech schools that provide specific diesel mechanic training.

What's The Best Choice?
In my opinion the college route[if you're just beginning] is the best which gets into the meat of the trade with qualified instructors and pre-planned intruction modules that will give you the experience and confidence to work in any shop as an apprentice. In my part of the world for the "commercial transport" trade you start out with a 10 month pre-apprenticeship that gives you the basics and preps you for the "real world" truck shop atmosphere. Once completed it's up to you to sell yourself and get hired on as an apprentice. In some cases you may start out as a "Mechanic's Helper" which isn't a bad start. A lot of shops want qualified personnel since time is money and don't have a lot of time to train.

Mechanic Duties.
Depending in what area of the Mechanic field you want to work in, Mechanic Duties will vary. Generally speaking you must be ready to diagnose and repair everything related to the machine you're assigned to.

You will deal with Engines, steering, suspensions, transmissions, differentials, electrical and air system problems. After Tech School training is over you'll be released into reality and if you work in a retail repair shop get ready to hustle. Time is money as they say and customers can be demanding [you can't blame them with shop rates constantly increasing]. Fleet jobs are less demanding since there are hourly drivers and spare units available, but the work quality still has to be commendable.

As an apprentice you're supposed to be working with a Journeyman but you may find yourself on your own and using your instincts more often than not.

Mechanic Shortage?
On the other hand there is beginning to be a shortage of mechanics to replace seasoned old salts like me when it's time to hang up the tools. The first thing a lot of employers will look for is someone with a good attitude and aptitude to get the job done with some direction from an experienced lead hand.

Apprenticeship Timeline
A 1st year apprentice in Canada will start off at 60% of the journeyman mechanic's wage. This goes up every year after until certification is attained. Each year [for 4 years] you have to go for 6 weeks training and pass a written exam. The final year requires an 8 week course since you'll be writing a trade qualification and interstate/interprovincial exam.

Tools Required
Mechanic's Tools you'll need is the basic hand tools both standard and metric wrenches with 3/8 and 1/2 inch drive air tools. Don't go overboard, you'll buy more tools as needed.

Does The Trade Pay?
Wages are very competitive with other trades since it's getting harder for employers to find qualified people.
Journeyman mechanics can make anywhere from $20.00 to $35.00 per hour depending where your located and what kind of equipment you're working on.

Side Note:
In 1980 I worked up North making a Journeyman rate of $10.00/hr and the shop rate was $29.00/hr. [times have changed!]

That's a basic over view on how to become a mechanic. I can tell you it's the total package full of challenges that takes patience, intuition, strength & above all experience to over come and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves diesel engine repairing/troubleshooting and working on a variety of different mechanical systems.

1 comment :

Roy Higgins said...

Me and my friend are at the six state FMCA rally in North Little Rock and his diesel allison coach will not even turn over. The mechanic will be out tomorrow but
any ideas to try?
He thinks it is related to the allison transmission.
Roy Higgins cell 863-221-0179
ham radio ecolink