Auto mechanics are professionals who repair and maintain vehicles. The vehicles range from motorcycles, cars, tractors to generators. The job is very hands-on and mechanics spend a lot of time on their feet performing rigorous physical labor.
The level of the experience required will also depend on the market sector that you will decide to work in. For example – classic cars, everyday cars, heavy-duty vans and trucks, specialist equipment.
For any expat wondering what are the pros and cons of being a mechanic? Read on below.
10 Pros of Being a Mechanic
1.Freedom to Work on One’s Own Projects
One of the biggest perks of a career in mechanics is the ability to work on one’s personal vehicles. Mechanics get to keep their own cars in pristine condition for a fraction of the price. Along with that, they can even begin to buy junk vehicles and flip them to sell for a profit. Mechanics who own their own shops have no issue accessing their shop equipment to do personal work.
2. Good Earning Potential
Considering that a college education is not mandatory for this profession, mechanics typically earn solid wages. The average salary of mechanics is about $41,097 per year as of October 2019. Salaries typically range between $31,500 and $46,500 across the US. The starting salaries are usually lower, but they have the potential to increase with added experience and training. So, those who are unsatisfied with their current salaries can always pursue more ASE certifications to qualify for higher pay.
3. Job Stability
An expat seeking employment might also want to consider the field of automotive repair because it’s very stable. Vehicles have for long been a key transportation mode for many people and businesses. The need for professionals who have the skills to repair vehicles stays relatively constant. An expert mechanic can always find work.
4. Little or No Student Loan Debt
College/university students nowadays are graduating with hefty student loan debts adding up to tens of thousands of dollars. Picking a trade such as Auto Repair means that one can attend vocational school or maybe a community college for less money. After that, the person can join an apprenticeship where he or she will get paid while still learning the trade.
A professional mechanic can always opt to open their own auto repair business. Owning auto shops means that one can work whenever and wherever he or she wants. That’s a huge benefit to professionals with family obligations or who require flexibility in daily schedules or locations.
6. Physical and Mental Benefits
Mechanics work their minds and body all the time. Assessing issues, developing solutions, and tackling day-to-day business transactions keeps one’s mind sharp. Also, the physical requirements of the professions can help to keep the body feeling active and healthy. Additionally, the job comes with a certain level of satisfaction, because mechanics help to ensure safe driving. Without excellent Auto Repair systems, drivers would be at a higher risk of incurring accidents.
7. More Social Interaction
Most mechanics do not stay in the office all day. They are usually out and about, interacting with new clients all the time. A mechanic that’s friendly and provides clients with exemplary customer service can also generate more income through those positive interactions.
8. Opportunities for Career Advancement
The trade of Auto Repair is licensed and regulated and ambitious mechanics can work them up to a master’s level. Master Mechanics typically earn higher salaries, have more job flexibility, and extra opportunities than other skill levels. Mechanics do not need to remain stagnant doing the same task for years. The auto industry has a lot to offer. Aside from leveling up, mechanics can also earn profit by tackling part-time jobs, like writing for cars.
9. Chasing One’s Passion
When a person does what they love, they’re bound to feel more satisfied. Passion is usually accompanied by great energy and the openness to learn. Becoming an auto mechanic allows one to work on vehicles including those they love. They get to be around cars each workday.
10. Learning on the Job
Being an auto mechanic also lets one learn about new technologies almost every day. That’s because technologies in the automotive industry are constantly changing and growing. Moreover, it’s a fast-paced sector with plenty to learn and acquire skills from.
10. Cons of Being a Mechanic
Many mechanic jobs involve constant lifting of heavy items. That can bring a strain on a mechanic’s body over time. Additionally, many mechanics have to spend lengthy periods bent over or lying on the back. The job may also require them to use certain tools that place them in awkward positions. Physical strain is usually not a problem for young mechanics, but as they age it becomes harder to accomplish certain tasks.
2. Higher Risk of Hearing Loss
Mechanics are at times exposed to loud sounds regularly for multiple hours. As they grow older, they might start to experience hearing loss. In fact, constant exposure to noises of over 90 decibels and carbon monoxide can lead to severe types of hearing loss. That’s according to a study done by the Université de Montréal. Unfortunately, a lot of mechanics that handle vehicles of any kind face constant exposure to carbon dioxide.
3. Working in Unsafe Environments
Many mechanics work in unsafe settings. A small error can lead to the loss of the mechanic’s or somebody else’s life. The professionals constantly work with dangerous equipment that can smash, maul or sever fingers or toes. Moreover, auto mechanics can suffer burns by battery acid, hot oil, coolant or hydraulic fluid. Electrical circuits with improper wiring can also potentially electrocute a mechanic.
4. Coming Across Rude Clients
When clients require a mechanic, it’s mostly because something has broken down unexpectedly. A customer might feel frustrated because of the inconvenience. Sometimes, mechanics have to deal with frustrated clients, particularly if the cost of repair is more than a customer’s budget. A mechanic might have to work under extreme pressure to fix the broken part. At times, some parts might not be available in the auto shop, which can lead to delays that further irritate clients.
5. Exposure to Asbestos
Unfortunately, some manufacturers are still producing parts that have asbestos, which can potentially cause cancer and mesothelioma. Many brakes and clutches contain asbestos because of its high resistance to heat. Although manufacturers might find alternatives to asbestos, older equipment might still have components containing it.
6. Irregular Work Schedule
For people who work with high-quality mechanics, their shops are most likely popular. So, they might have to work on evenings and weekends on as many cars as possible every week. That can push an auto mechanic to work many hours per day, making it difficult to maintain a healthy work-life balance. In addition to that, the work hours usually vary depending on the number of vehicles brought to the shop. That makes it hard to maintain a regular schedule, leading to an unhealthy work-life balance.
7. Varying Vehicles
Every car is unique with different specs and arrangements for the components. The differences between automobiles can make it hard for one to work on a variety of vehicles. Many garages choose to specialize in either a certain model or region of the car to prevent confusion and work faster. An auto mechanic might have to attend a variety of classes to keep up with industry changes.
8. Costly Resources
Once someone becomes a mechanic, he or she will still need costly tools and equipment. Some toolboxes on the market are 5-6ft tall and cost at least $10,000. Furthermore, mechanics require other hand tools like jacks, screwdrivers, and wrenches to make sure they can finish their work. When a new vehicle enters the market, an auto mechanic might need a special tool for working on that specific vehicle.
9. Entry-Level Salary Is Relatively Low
When entering the area of automotive repair, many mechanics do not earn high incomes. Depending on one’s location and past experience, the income can vary, but it’s usually around $8-$15 hourly. For anyone seeking a high paying job instantly, being a mechanic might not be a suitable profession.
10. Earlier Retirement
Retirement is a critical issue when it comes to being a mechanic. The physical demands of the job cause many to stop working earlier. Most of the mechanics are below 65 years of age, which means many choose to either change careers or retire early. Many people are able to find work in other areas of the industry after incurring too many aches and pains. Such jobs include teaching or being service writers.
Like most occupations out there, the mechanic’s profession comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. Being aware of the pros and cons of the profession is vital for anyone who is thinking of becoming a mechanic.
About the author: Marta Kovachek is the author of this article. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a master’s degree in Economics. Marta enjoys writing about the current economic situation and loves helping our readers to find their next "destination". From places to live to complex social and economic topics, we always enjoy Marta's work. Please contact us in case of any questions.