How to Become a Mechanic

In this snippet of the From the Glovebox podcast, Mike and Tony answer a listener question about how to become a mechanic. Together, the father-son podcast hosts discuss the training, education, and skills required to be a mechanic at places like TMT Automotive. With all that said, lets get into the transcript! 

“I want to become a mechanic. What training or education do I need?”

Here's a young person and they do say person it's not guy anymore to want to be a mechanic but young person calling in and says hey I want to be a mechanic. What's it what's it take? What can I do to you know get into this field?

And I think I'll let Tony really explain the details of what we're looking for and what we would want and in some of our apprenticeship programs we have. But here's a key ingredient I think for a lot of years high schools and again most of our high schools do a wonderful job and stuff but they've pushed college college college college college so part of my plea for everybody out there that has kids and stuff is don't forget about the trades because there is absolutely nothing wrong with being a bricklayer, bring a being a construction person, or being an electrician, and obviously being an automotive technician. 

But I'll tell you also you know on the automotive technician side when I was young everybody that was really good in school went to these accelerated classes and the guys that weren't so smart or girls weren't then they went to be an automotive technician and I can tell you if you got young people out here listening we want a and b students also. That complexity of the modern automobile and all the computers and all the navigation and all the lane departure and all the stuff we have we need very smart people also so regardless of what career you're going into it's really important. But Tony if a young young lady, young guy wants to come in to to be an automotive technician with no experience and I think we honestly you just recently hired somebody but tell us tell us what you'd be looking for in our shops. 

Well first of all if you're in that position you have two choices. 

Attending a Technical or Vocational School for Basics of Being a Mechanic 

Number one obviously choice would be to go to a technical or vocational school which is going to teach you some of the basics of mechanics. Usually those programs are anywhere from 18 to 24 month programs and  there's some really really good schools out there.

There's University of Northern Ohio or otherwise known as UNO there's Lincoln Tech. There's Ivy Tech. Those are all ones around us. There's other local schools I'm sure around you whatever part of the country or world that you're from but the alternative to that is to find an automotive shop or an automotive group that has an apprenticeship program. 

My belief is at this point in time that for a lot of people that might be the way to go because that gets you hands-on training and experience. 

Automotive Apprenticeship Program

The thing that I like about the apprentice program as an employer is I get to start with you and teach you our way of doing things. So a lot of times when I'm recruiting you're talking to a potential hire I talked to them about you already know how to service advise you already, know how to work on a car, you already know how to do this, but I have my playbook of how we operate and how we do things and I need you to learn my playbook with an apprentice program. 

I get to teach my playbook out of the box, so I think that makes that a lot better. So for instance, what we do is we require at least 40 hours of continuing education every single year for every single person that is in our company in our apprenticeship program. 

It is a two-year program that'll put you through about a hundred hours in each year. Then it also requires you like for instance I have one person in the program right now in our northern store and they were required to do ten fluid flushes to be able to complete a section of the apprenticeship program. So they had a document every single time they did a fluid flush and then they had a report to the senior technician on staff that's overseeing the apprentice program. 

That allowed them to really learn hands-on the procedures of fluid flushes. We did just hire a young gentleman who went to school, was finishing his education in a four-year degree, and learned that he really liked the automotive side of things and decided that instead of going to become what his degree is in that he wanted to become an automotive technician. 

And you know at that point in time he didn't want to go to school again for another two years. On top of the four years he already went most people call that being a doctor at that point in time. But he chose to start seeking out somebody that had an apprenticeship program. Obviously we have that, so he started, and he's learning the ropes and gonna be going through all of that and completing that at this point in time.

Yeah no those are great great points Tony. I don't think most any independent shop

owner out there would work with a young person and allow them to grow and be a technician. 

Women in the Auto Repair Industry 

And I want to be clear with this you know our business is long overdue to be not just a male-dominated business. 

So we had a lot of great female technicians. We have you know great amount of female service advisors a program that I'm involved in with service advisors and people that talk to customers about service nationwide. We probably have 40% females in that so this is not a male dominated business by any means only. 

I think Tony's right I think a lot of the shop owners understand that instead of going and hiring somebody that's a seasoned veteran. We use a term we call we need to grow our own. So we need to help bring a young person through our program. And that's been a little tough. A lot of times in unions and in you know carpentry and electricians and even in our mechanical business, we we call them older people eat their own and we don't we don't allow a young person to grow and expand.

Average Age of Vehicle Technicians 

Well and here's the thing too I mean we need to drop the average age of the technician. I don't know what the other trades are but I read an article a while back. And I don't remember the exact yea, but it was over 50 years old is the average age of the person that's working on your car. And quite honestly for the physical demands that's required to be able to work in that type of an environment, over 50 is an old age. So no offense to you anybody out there that's over 50. 


But to be bending over standing on concrete all day long and doing that type of work. That is an older  statesman at that point in time. While the mind's still good the body's starting to break down. We need these guys that are 21 22 to 30 years old that want to get it in this industry. And girls to where we can really teach them ropes and get them up to speed. 

Becoming a Mechanic for Electric Cars 

The other thing too with this industry is it's becoming so electrical that we're almost gonna need electrical engineers at some point in time here. I was just reading a article about a gentleman that's opened an electric only shop in California for electric cars, only works on electric vehicles. And it's basically an electrical engineer position that he has. These guys are working in you know almost in white gloves white suit type of thing and in it's all through programming and everything else on the car versus the hard part side of the car, electrical. Electric cars, just so everybody knows, do still have fluids and have a whole bunch of other stuff that still requires some some grease and things along those lines. But you need somebody that truly understands the electrical aspect of the vehicle at that point in time now.

It's a great point. I think if we would summarize this up you know the s good areas with that.

We're not known as grease monkeys and we don't have red rags hanging out of the back pockets anymore.

Benefits of Being a Mechanic 

That is very true but the real point too is if you do you want to be in a business that's recession proof and I'm not saying hundred percent but probably ninety five percent people still whether the economy is good bad. Gas prices go up down or whatever, people still need car repairs so it's a very solid business. It's not the most glamorous to go to your you know party or a big fun thing on this weekend but it is a great way to provide a great service. 

And it we need great automotive service centers nationwide to take care of the American public. We love driving automobiles but it's a really great career and it's a career that you can have 20 30 40 years in. And make really really good money, probably top 10% money as you grow through this in the country on average jobs. 

So really consider a career. Get a hold of your local automotive service center. See what time of what type of apprentice program that they have. We have a lot of great companies that work with us that we can really get you teed in and if you can't find that you know get out and contact you know our podcast from the glovebox with Mike and Tony T and we'll point you in the right direction in your area. But we'd love to have more people join our industry and make it better. So that's a little segment on somebody wanting to get into our industry. 

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