There is a certain amount of job security in becoming an auto mechanic. People will always need their vehicles repaired. Even if you have taken some classes related to the field while in high school, you'll need more education or experience to become a fully qualified mechanic. Most employers prefer someone who can hit the ground running, and you can put yourself in this position by going to school to become an auto mechanic.
Training Versus Education
School isn't cheap, and your first concern might be wondering why you should pay for training when you might be able to find an employer who will train you while on the job and pay you at the same time. The fact is that you are unlikely to be able to get the breadth and depth of training at work that you would get in an automotive program. You'll get some on-the-job training anyway once you begin work because every shop has different processes and procedures. A process of formal education can better prepare you for all types of auto repair and for certification from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. You can also qualify as a Master Technician via this organization. Finally, you might dream of being your own boss, and if this is the case, it might be a good idea to add a few business classes to your curriculum to give you a more solid grounding for running your own shop.
Dealing with Cost
Even with all of these practicalities in mind, the cost of a vocational school or a couple of years of community college may be daunting. You could qualify for grants or federal student loans, but private loans are an additional possibility. While credit unions and banks still offer private student loans, you might find more offers from online lenders, and they make an effort to create application processes that are easy and give you an answer quickly. Be sure that they are offering a reasonable interest rate before accepting an offer.
What to Expect from Your Coursework
What will you learn from enrolling in a program? It's likely you'll learn about such topics as cooling systems, lubrication, small engines, repair and maintenance, service operations and both power and manual steering. You'll probably have courses that cover specific systems within the vehicle, such as electric systems, engine service or brake service. If you have the opportunity to take a class in customer service skills, this can be just as valuable as your mechanical knowledge. Whether you are good at working with people or could use some pointers, a customer service class can teach you better communication methods. De-escalation skills can also be helpful for the inevitable times when you might have to deal with an irate customer. Finally, you may want to consider a class in written communication. This is not because you need to become an expert in writing essays but because being able to compose emails and other written documents with clarify and efficiency and communicate with customers who prefer this method can make your working life much easier.