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Are apprenticeships a good method of becoming a car mechanic?


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dcbloemer
New User

Mar 8, 2013, 3:52 PM

Post #1 of 7 (1243 views)
Are apprenticeships a good method of becoming a car mechanic? Sign In

Hi all,

I recently left an engineering job at a Fortune 100 company after realizing that the bureaucracy and politics of corporate America were not a healthy environment for me.

I want to make a career change into the automotive mechanic area. Specifically, I would like to eventually become a builder and designer of performance / racing / specialty cars, though I realize that I will have to go through a lot of service work to get there.

I have indirect experience in that I worked in a development program for heavy-duty diesel emission treatment systems. I investigated part and system failures, implemented design and process solutions to failures, designed and tested parts, and led the 'change management' department of my program (you see how things were very bureaucratic...). But I have no experience working in a car shop setting.

I looked into car mechanic school, but it is very expensive. The 17 month program I looked at costs $43k. I do not think I could qualify for much in the way of financial aid or loans.

So I thought an alternate route might be to find a master mechanic in the area (Denver CO), and become an unpaid or poorly paid apprentice. I believe you can take ASE certification tests without having attended mechanic school if you have enough work experience - is this correct? In that case it seems that knowledge learned from a master, plus some reading, plus experience, would enable me to obtain certification.

Do you guys know if this is a common route to becoming a mechanic? Are master mechanics and shop owners likely to take on an apprentice with no direct experience?

Also, I'm fairly bright, so I don't think I would be interested in being an oil change boy, if you see what I mean...I don't mind doing basic tasks to pay my way, but I would be there primarily to learn, so I would expect to be doing complicated work (engine rebuilds, suspension work) (with supervision) after six months or less. Do you guys think this would be in line with the norm? Or do most apprentices go through several years of doing only the most basic work?

Thanks very much for reading,
Cheers,
David


(This post was edited by dcbloemer on Mar 8, 2013, 5:15 PM)


Hammer Time
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Hammer Time profile image

Mar 8, 2013, 4:14 PM

Post #2 of 7 (1236 views)
Re: Are apprenticeships a good method of becoming a car mechanic? Sign In

That would probably be the best route to take but it will take many years of learning and buying tools and equipment before you will carry much value to an employer.



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Discretesignals
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
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Mar 8, 2013, 4:33 PM

Post #3 of 7 (1213 views)
Re: Are apprenticeships a good method of becoming a car mechanic? Sign In

This is ironic. An engineer wanting to become a mechanic. Wait till you work on some of these vehicles that aren't mechanic friendly and you'll be cursing your engineering coharts...LOL





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Hammer Time
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Hammer Time profile image

Mar 8, 2013, 4:41 PM

Post #4 of 7 (1204 views)
Re: Are apprenticeships a good method of becoming a car mechanic? Sign In

LOL ................... ain't that the truth



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We offer help in answering questions, clarifying things or giving advice but we are not a substitute for an on-site inspection by a professional.



Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
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Mar 8, 2013, 6:12 PM

Post #5 of 7 (1172 views)
Re: Are apprenticeships a good method of becoming a car mechanic? Sign In

David - long retired now and so called office anything wasn't for me. I was born to fix crap - tons of college to acquire a biz degree and was forever fixing cars in the parking lot was much more interesting. It takes a passion or you WILL fail at auto mechanics. Gotta love getting cut, burned, breath fumes of things that could take out a small nation, smell like an exhaust pipe, deal with the same bull as office politics which I did full time for 12 year
AND full time auto mechanics at the same time. (Nice to be young with that much energy) -- didn't last (quit) working for a new car dealer then a good gas station shop combo common in the day. Had enough stuff to open on my own alone which is harder but at least no bull from a lousy employee either which happens.

Spent every dime possible to build a huge collection of tools that would buy a house! Auto mechanics own their own service tools and generally if at a shop the real nasty stuff the shop owns. I'd need 100K more right now to do most of the work again. So much is smaller and tighter you need 10 different types a just wrenches and sockets which are primal never mind specialty tools.

If you love it you make it at almost anything. There's plenty of what you don't like now in the automotive biz too and then ticked off customer who do tend to think it's all a rip off. When it's your own biz you can tell that type to take a hike!

Whatever type of engineer you are unless you really hate that perhaps you could go off on your own with your current thing OR find a smaller concern that lacks a lot of the politics. IDK.

Go ahead now and do the apprentice thing and see what goes on all about it.

As said like anything if you have the passion that just wont quit you will make it and not just aim but be the best at whatever and the work find YOU in good times or bad. Sorry - that's more philosophy than technical but find it's always true,

Tom



dcbloemer
New User

Mar 8, 2013, 6:38 PM

Post #6 of 7 (1163 views)
Re: Are apprenticeships a good method of becoming a car mechanic? Sign In

Thanks Tom, very helpful advice. I will think on it.


Sidom
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Mar 9, 2013, 11:40 AM

Post #7 of 7 (1133 views)
Re: Are apprenticeships a good method of becoming a car mechanic? Sign In

Age & health would play into this...

This profession takes it's toll on a body.

You can go the route you are talking about but without getting a good background in all the system via a college or trade school, then it would be slow going...

That's kinda the deal with being an apprentice....You have to pay your dues.....There would be a lot of menial work you would be doing but you would also be picking up the experience you are looking for....Just maybe not at the pace you are expecting

If you could find a shop in the area you are interested in and were an unpaid volunteer then you would be able to bypass a lot of the grunt work BUT you have to realize that when you are doing a job, it takes longer to finish that job when you are training someone than if you were just doing it yourself.....You have to go slower, you have to explain things as far as theory, assembly, safety, etc..... So while it may sound like any shop would jump at that.......You may be surprised to see the higher end shops pass on that opportunity for the reasons I mentioned......


But if this is something you really enjoy,,,,,you should try to get into it any way you can...... I've always said I rather being working at a job where I was making peanuts but looked forward to going in everyday as opposed to a job where I was making a forturne but dreaded getting up every morning...






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