While a high school diploma is the standard educational minimum for a mechanic, many employers prefer applicants who have completed a college training or associate's degree program. Industry certification is also required, though employers may assist with that after hiring.
Whether through high school or a college program, courses in automotive repair, mechanics, math, computers and electronics are common. Short-term college certification programs exist through trade schools that take as little as six months to a year to complete. Newly hired mechanics typically start out as trainee technicians and work their way up through a few years of on-the-job training and industry certifications.
Though not always required to perform work, employers commonly want certification in one or more of eight different areas. The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence administers certification testing, which typically requires at least two years of experience before completion.
Through education or training, mechanics also need to develop certain qualities to go along with mechanical skills. Customer-service skills are very important in auto service environments, and shop owners look for mechanics who can interact with customers in a pleasant way. Dexterity and detail orientation are vital to accurate and thorough complete of repair work. The ability to troubleshoot or problem solve is important as well.