Spent 3 years in college before washing out. I freely admit I was too young and immature. When it comes to failure, some people will never admit the truth, not even to themselves. I’m not like that.
I know when I’ve got only myself to blame.
Then I realized I had to do something with my life. I did a 3 year automotive mechanic apprenticeship in Germany, with the US Army. They are a big employer, and they usually hire the less desirables . . . too old, troublemakers, bad students, etc. I was several years older than most of my classmates. That is also the reason why virtually no dealership hired me.
After receiving my Gesellenbrief . . . ALL mechanics must be licensed in Germany . . . I worked a few years in a US Army depot as a heavy equipment mechanic. I had originally been slated to work in the motor pool, on passenger vehicles. But the motor pool closed. I had nothing against working on big equipment . . . it was all headed to Bosnia-Herzegovina, by the way . . . but it seemed strange to get trained to work on passenger vehicles, then be forced to work on heavy equipment
I left for the Los Angeles area, and landed a job at a Mercedes-Benz dealer, where I stayed for several years. My old high school shop teacher had warned me long before, that earning a living as a mechanic in the US was not easy, because of the flat rate system, and the tool expense. That did not deter me.
The best thing I can say about the dealership is that I learned a lot.
For the last few years, I’ve been a civil service mechanic. Even though the fleet vehicles aren’t very glamorous, the pay and the benefits are pretty fair. There’s a gate guard, same as on the US Army base. And every trade has its own shop . . . carpenters, electricians, mechanics, etc. The buildings are all pretty beat down. When I showed up there, I just laughed to myself, because it was just like the US Army shop I’d worked in. Old, dirty, not insulated, dark, in need of repair, looks like a gust of wind would knock it over . . . and I also work on class 7 and 8 trucks.
As far as credentials, I believe I have 13 or 14 ASE credentials. automotive master, advanced level engine performance gasoline, undercar specialist , plus a few heavy truck. I’m also certified to perform opacity inspections on diesel vehicles.
I’m quite certain all my Mercedes-Benz credentials are long expired . . . LOL
It’s hilarious to think my German Gesellenbrief is in all likelihood not recognized in the US
And likewise, I’m pretty sure my ASE credentials wouldn’t mean squat in Germany.
A Gesellenbrief basically means you’re certified to practice your trade, but it’s the minimum. There are other certifications above and beyond that, but I didn’t stick around long enough to pursue any of that.
So, technically, I could work in Germany again. But anybody hiring me would probably say “Your Gesellenbrief is valid, but your US experience doesn’t impress us. The Americans don’t know how to diagnose and repair vehicles properly.”
Don’t shoot the messenger because of my last comment. Many people in Germany have a very dim opinion of mechanics in the US. To be fair, the industry here is kind of a wild west situation. I’ve worked with a few hacks, but I’ve also worked with a few geniuses. I’d like to think I’m somewhere in the middle . . . LOL