What does a career as an automotive technician involve?
Nowadays, a career as an automotive service technician involves a lot more than that of a simple mechanic with a wrench in his hand. What used to be mechanical is now technological. The modern automobile has complex electronics systems and built-in computers that monitor many aspects of vehicle performance, and the modern mechanic needs to have his or her finger on the pulse.
At the most fundamental level a good auto mechanic is a problem solver. Service technicians need to identify the cause of breakdowns quickly and know which is the best solution. Moreover, they require the know-how in new automotive technologies and often the brand-specific or even vehicle-specific knowledge that only comes from proper training.
Excellent reasoning skills are required to understand the interaction of vehicle components, and an ability to foresee device failures that might occur in the future if left unattended. Old parts may requiring replacing to prevent failures that might cause more extensive damage.
Day to day, a career as an auto service mechanic may involve solving problems in a breakdown situation, preparing gasoline or diesel vehicles to pass inspections, performing routine maintenance and preventative repairs and performing tune-ups. The qualified professional will know when it is best to repair a defective component or to replace it. He or she will also be capable of using electronic diagnostic equipment and digital reference manuals to identify problems.
Interpreting the results from diagnostic equipment and comparing with manufacturer benchmarks is a key task. Solving the problem and routine repair work will frequently require the use of heavy tools such as jacks and hoists to access the work area, pneumatic wrenches, flame-cutting (and recently water-cutting) and welding tools for repairing exhaust systems, and lathes and grinding machines for brakes.
While some automotive technicians will build a career in a small team, others will go to work in large shops where there is the opportunity to specialize. Some will dedicate themselves to brake repairs, looking after brake linings and pads, and power-assisted brake systems. Hydraulic pumps, couplings and gear trains are the responsibility of transmission technicians. The controls, condensers and compressors of modern automotive air conditioning systems are looked after by automotive air conditioning technicians, who must have an in-depth knowledge of State and Federal regulations on the handling and disposal of refrigerants.
Above all, the career as an automotive technician is a very satisfying one. You will see defective automobiles leave the shop in perfect working order, thanks to your skills and knowledge.