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Five skills that mechanics need

So, you've decided that you want to become a mechanic. Congratulations! You have made the first step. However, you still have a lot to learn. Becoming a mechanic takes more than simply knowing a bearing from a gasket. Here are five skills mechanics will need to help get them on a path toward a diagnostically sound career.

Mechanical skills

It almost goes without saying that mechanics will need to possess a practical knowledge of machinery and tools. Not only should mechanics know how to use the proper tools, but they should also understand their design. Furthermore, mechanics should understand basic repair measures for the machines and tools that they operate.

Diagnostic skills

One of the most important skills for mechanics to have is the ability to diagnose problems. To do this, mechanics use a variety of diagnostic tests using both manual and computerized methods. Not unlike a physician, mechanics then use deductive reasoning to determine what is wrong with their mechanical patient. Once the proper diagnosis has been made, the mechanic can then determine the proper course of action to fix the problem. Not only should mechanics be able to diagnose and treat a current problem, but they should also be able to recognize the potential for future problems.

Ability to learn computer and electrical systems

In the past, mechanics were limited to working mainly with their hands and the tools of the trade. This is no longer the case. These days, a good mechanic cannot be content with simply knowing how engines and belts operate. They must also be versed in the increasing number of electronic systems that are being used in today's vehicles. As demand grows for vehicles powered by alternative fuels and hybrids, mechanics must stay up to date on how to diagnose and fix problems in these types of cars as well. Training at technical or vocational school is an excellent way for mechanics to learn these important skills.

People skills

Although many mechanics may prefer working with cars rather than people, the fact is that people skills are one of the most important skills for mechanics to have. Most customers bring their vehicles to a mechanic because they do not understand what is wrong with it and they don't have the skills to fix it themselves. The best mechanics are able to not only diagnose and fix a problem but are able to explain the issue to their customer as well. Great mechanics are able to explain to their customers what went wrong with the vehicle and teach them how to prevent future problems.

Imagination

While it may not seem obvious, possessing a mechanical imagination is definitely one of the skills needed for mechanics. They should be able to imagine how a repair will look after certain parts are moved or rearranged. Mechanics may also be required to think creatively when traditional methods are not repairing the problems. Of all the skills a mechanic will need to have, imagination -- the ability to think creatively -- is one skill that can come in handy in a pinch.

There is much more to being a mechanic than simply enjoying cars and engines -- today's mechanic has the opportunity to think outside of the garage and put both hands and mind to work.

Sources:

"Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/automotive-service-technicians-and-mechanics.htm, June 26, 2012
"Automotive Mechanic," Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 19, 2010, http://www.bls.gov/k12/build02.htm



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