[Help with Educational Guidelines]

Hi all. I’m new here, and this is my first post. I’m currently 16 years old, and I believe I am wasting my life. I have no sturdy educational background that I know of. I’m currently in the line up to pursue a degree in Law, but I’m not interested in it. I’m more interested in vehicles than anything else, its my personal preference. Maybe its because of my life’s background. I would like for any community member to extend a helping hand to me, and suggest some careers or tell me some guidelines for me to follow up on. " I don’t want to be the regular garage junkie that repairs your everyday car". I am still young and I want to aim high, even if I fail, I can always say that I tried. I would like to deal with a career that deals with automobiles, one that compose of a diploma / degree.

My Background

I’m not fond of science (Chemistry, Physics) ~ I haven’t touch the subject, and from the looks of it, I really don’t like it
I’m good with math and other subjects.
I’m very good with engines, I can scrap engines within hours.

Please assist me, as I am a 16 year old kid in need of help.

You have a better head on your shoulders than I had at 30. Make that 40. I tip my hat to you.

There is a “glut” of lawyers being graduated. Far more than the need can absorb. Those graduating from Harvard or Yale can command big bucks, but most cannot. And then there’s the burden of having to “book billable hours”.

If you enjoy cars, you just might be better off attending a community college with an automotive program. Get the degree, pass the ASE exams, and keep on learning.

If you’re doing something you enjoy and the bills are paid, you’ve won the game.

Now, don’t ask me how to have the discussion with your mom & dad.

“I’m very good with engines, I can scrap engines within hours.”

Please elaborate

Anyways, the first thing you need to do is graduate high school. If your school still has an auto shop class, enroll in it.

What do your parents have to say about all of this?

In case you’re not aware of this, mechanics in the US need to possess their own tools and toolbox.
I still spend several thousand each year, and I’ve been doing this for awhile.

Mechanics tend to get paid flat-rate. That means if “the book” says replacing the water pump on the car pays 3 hours, you’ll get paid 3 x your hourly rate (which you negotiate). If you take 2 hours to do it, bravo. If you take 6 hours to do it, too bad.

Even after you graduate from an auto apprenticeship, trade school, etc., you’ll still have to continually educate yourself, on your own time. If you want to stay current, that is.

A community college auto class would also be good, but you sound too young for this.

Are any of your relatives mechanics? If so, you should ask them to show you the ropes, on the weekends and evenings . . . as long as it doesn’t interfere with your high school homework, and other responsibilities

You’re young, and you haven’t seen much yet, even though you may beg to differ.

It’s far too soon to say you’ve been wasting your life

@db4690 My parents are okay with anything once it has a future for me. They won’t want me to be a garage mechanic, as that really has no ‘High End’ education to it. I won’t disagree with you saying I have alot to learn still, because life is full of surprises. You also wanted me to elaborate on the engine. I can scrap an engine with proper tools straight to the bottom end. So that generally means the head etc. Installing turbos and other parts for me is easy. Now that you see my point, I’m not into anything else but vehicles, and I really like it.


So you’re handy, and that’s good

But there’s a lot more to being a mechanic than that

You also have to have lots of patience, be able to follow a wiring diagram and trouble tree. You have to be a good reader, and you also have to be resourceful and think outside of the box once in awhile

“They won’t want me to be a garage mechanic, as that really has no ‘High End’ education to it.”

Please elaborate

Just what kind of mechanic do you aspire to be?

You make the word “garage mechanic” sound like some low skilled, undesirable dead end job

I’m not sure if that’s how you meant it, but your words could be construed that way

I can scrap engines within hours.

Not a qualification for a mechanic.

@db4690 Mechanics isn’t a dead end job. In order to be a mechanic in today’s era, you just need to pick up a set of courses. Mechanics is becoming like a trade, something anyone can do. It doesn’t require a degree or diploma. I would like a career that deals with vehicle mechanics but involves a degree / diploma. I’m still young , therefore I would like to settle for something big.


I’m afraid you’re still missing the point, because you’re young

Having the degree/diploma, etc. isn’t the only answer to being a mechanic

I’ve known plenty of guys that graduated from brand x auto mechanic school, with their fancy degrees, and they still don’t know what end is up

You need the qualifications, plus common sense, patience, smarts, etc.

I’ve seen plenty of “fresh guys” show up at a job, certificate in hand, and they think they already know everything and can do everything, earn loads of money . . . only to learn quickly that there will be a steep learning curve, and it’s not all glory and gravy

Being a mechanic is just like any other job . . . it will take years before you’re really good at it.

“Mechanics is becoming like a trade”

Mechanics isn’t becoming like a trade . . . IT IS A TRADE

It isn’t a job that just anybody can do . . . lots of guys wash out, for various reasons

If a guy can’t cut it, he will wash out, diploma or no. Just a matter of time

Perhaps being an auto engineer would be a more suitable long term goal for you, since you don’t seem to have a very high opinion of the auto mechanics trade

You’re making me defensive, because you’re painting a very dim picture of my trade

@db4790 I didn’t mean to insult the trade in anyway and if you would ask me, I would rather do mechanics than anything else. Its just that I don’t want to settle on a just a trade. Is there any degree / diploma for auto mechanics ? I’m not saying I’m the best either, I just don’t want to settle for something, and deep down I know I should of settled for something else. I was doing some searching and I did come across auto engineering but everything came to a dead end. If you could compare auto mechanics and auto engineering for me I would really appreciate it. Also the requirements for both. Remember I’m just a kid with a cloudy mind for my future. And you’re really helpful. That is a good compliment if you would ask me, I usually don’t tell people that everyday.

For what it’s worth I owned a small shop and earned 5X the average income in my state for over 15 years. I don’t know what attorneys earn here but I have 2 for neighbors. An MBA isn’t needed, nor is a PHd in rocket science or brain surgery, but managing a small business can be quite lucrative and for those so inclined being self employed has a great many benefits. For many working as a mechanic evolves into owning your own shop. Get a good education in business management while working on cars and even getting a technical degree from a community school. Things can change. You can change your mind. Don’t paint yourself into a corner.

And BTW, I went to high school with the son of a shop owner. He turned his dad’s accumulation of junk into a salvage yard and he’s a millionaire today.

Yes, some schools do offer an associate’s degree in auto mechanics

I can’t compare auto mechanics and auto engineering, because I only have experience as an auto mechanic

Perhaps there is an an auto engineer on this website who can offer some perspective from his side

I’m glad you found some of my words helpful

I went down the wrong path for awhile, when I was young, although I didn’t realize it at the time

I wish you the best, in any case

Some final words . . .

In case you do decide to enroll in an auto mechanics program, please go to a community college.
Do not enroll in Universal Technical Institute, ITT, or some other big name for profit school. Unfortunately, they are primarily interested in getting your money. The recruiters are head hunters.
They get a commission for every living body they sign up. That is their primary interest. Not only that, but they will absolutely lie like a rug, in order to sign you up. They will tell you fancy tales of high earnings, glory, etc. I’ve seen too many guys that fell for that pitch, only to be disappointed that the reality was more humble.

it sounds like a goal of owning your own successful shop of some kind may be something worth your working towards.

first get all the education that is available to you. physics and chemistry, as well as math will help you in all fields, auto work too don t neglect history either.

while you are in school get a part time job in some kind of shop, preferably with a master technician or fabricator or whatever. the more varied the work, the more you will learn.

do this and re evaluate your situation in 2 yrs, and adjust your schooling and work to meet your needs then

repeat every two years until you are dead

I’m watching closely at the automotive engineering. Exactly what how do I get into the field ? Do I need any specific requirements from school ? Or I can just attend University and do the course ? Can someone shed some light in this area please ?

Why don’t you send some emails to auto engineering professors at a few universities/colleges, and explain your goal

Hopefully they’ll respond and let you know what kind of courses you should be taking now

I’m not an engineer, like I said, but I suspect you’ll have to be strong in math, physics, technical drawing, electronics, CAD, etc.

You sound passionate about the automotive field but at this point I would advise you not to get too worked up over it as you seem to be. At 16 years of age there’s no reason to etch anything into stone at this point.

Requirements to be a good mechanic should be a desire to turn nuts and bolts, a bit of a knack for doing so, and be analytical in nature. Regarding the latter, this means if Problem A exists then you need to also know how to figure out Cause B and so on instead of firing the parts shotgun and hoping for the best…
There’s also a rotten downside to the mechanic field that can suck your heart and soul right out of you.

I can’t speak for college auto engineering requirements but I would imagine that it’s going to be heavy on mathmatics and associated areas such as geometry, trig, and so forth. The courses will likely be quite tough and entrance to a college engineering program will probably be pretty selective so buckle down on the high school load.

You guys are very inspirational. From searches so far, requirements are rooted from maths and I.T . Those are the major subjects im good in. I.T is my thing, I have a good passion for the subject. Both I.T and Math. I know its not really those two subjects alone, but the other subject areas are branched off from the two. I would post any info I find, if others want to pursue auto engineering.

I like the engineering idea. You sound bright enough and focused enough. Plan to pursue a BSME or BSEE as a minimum, with a MSME or MSEE long range. Engineering openings in the manufacturing sector are not as plentiful as they were when I was young, not by a longshot. They’re going to want an MS (or a BS in sciences with an MS in the works) from a reputable university with a good GPA. Work with your parents. Get all the physics and math that you can now in preparation.

Sorry if I’m getting excited. I spent 23 years in manufacturing, much of it in engineering and much of it in management, followed by 17 years working in a college. I’m absolutely tickled to hear someone your age focused and pursuing a dream. I saw so many college students without any vision whatsoever, just there to postpone real life. There were many truly focused ones too, and they made the days worthwhile, but being a dad myself it hurt to see the ones with no idea where they’re going or what they want to do.

I’m sure some of the others here are just as pleased… but not immature enough to say so. I’m old, so I can get away with it.

There’s a movie with Matt Damon and Ben Affleck named “Good Will Hunting”. Matt Damon plays a genius who fights against using his genius, spending his time getting into trouble instead. Ben Affleck plays his buddy. At one point Ben Affleck’s character is chewing him out for not using his genius, and he yells at him “one of these days you’re going to wake up and you’re going to be fifty”. Guess what? That is EXACTLY the way it happens. Suddenly one morning you’ll be fifty, and you’ll either have built a life doing what you enjoy or, like so many before you, you’ll just shut the alarm off and go to your unfulfilling job. You’re still young enough to have plenty of time to change your mind, but keep that sense of focus. It’ll serve you well.

Sorry. It’s late, I’m old (I have kids twice your age), and I get this way sometimes.

Anyway, I offer you my sincere best wishes. Keep in touch. Let an old man enjoy your progress.

Nicholai db4690 Has the same idea that I do. You may want to pursue a mechanical engineering degree with a goal of automotive engineering. You could eventually work in design or research and development. Once you are settled you could still twist wrenches and bust knuckles on your own projects. I will not recommend working on friends and relatives vehicles but you could give them good advise. A career as a mechanic is a noble profession just don’t count on it making you wealthy. Tools, training, and flat rate pretty much prevent that. As an engineer you could also provide valuable advise on this forum.

@Nicholai; I commend you for having a goal, many your age have not a clue what they wish to do for the future.
You may be able now, to as you put it (smash an engine)… I’ts putting it back together and it runs that is the key. Until you can do that successfully… you are only smashing an engine.

Many people here have given you great advice and are truly trying to lead you down the right path.
You could be an automobile engineer…but how can you design anything, without knowing how it goes together. We see this all the time, where the engineer designs a part and we think…“why did the dufuss put it there for, where we cannot even get a wrench on it.” So to be a good engineer you should know how things work and how they come apart.

As for the “Garage Mechanic”, you are not giving them the credit they deserve. You talk as though they are just a bunch of guys that get grease under their nails and once a week they scrub it out. They have talent and are educated in science, physics, chemistry, electronics and quite a few other areas. THe electronic’s side of autos…and the computerized technology that is always expanding in the cars of today is very complex and will always make more and more demands on the mechanic. Maybe this is the field that you should persue, if like you say…“you are good at IT.”

You will have to start out as “one of those grease Monkeys” as all of the professionals here did.
(No insult intended guys)
They didn’t just finish the last chapter in the text and a bunch of prospective employers were wrestling in the school hallway as to who would offer the first job. They started out at the bottom and worked their way up.
I’m not a professional, but it’s something like this;

Basic mechanic…then certification (s) in Brakes, Engine diagnostics, Electrical diagnostics, Diesel , Advanced Engine performance,and i’m sure i’m missing quite a few certifications.

So you will have to learn to put together the engine, then learn the advanced areas.

Like a lawyer, you could graduate with the highest score of the last decade and at your first job they are not going to let you argue a case before the Supreme Court. You’ll start out defending that guy with his 5th OWI , or some shoplifting case.

So keep up with school and maybe research what classes you need to take, to better understand the mechanic,s, physics, and science as to how the internal combustion engine works. Only with that understanding are you ever going to know why the spark is fired before the piston gets to the top of it’s stroke.

Keep coming back here thou and I am going to try to remember to send you some links to these pages that I think would enlighten you as to how advanced a mechanic’s abilities has to be.
i’m sure others will do the same.
I think it would benifit Nicholai to read some of the diagnostic’s that some of you guys post here. Lets not flood the poor guy, but lets send him a little now and then. Many are way over my head, but I can see how complex the problems can be.

At the top of these topics you will see your name, so watch for a number next to it. That will indicate that you have notifications. Click on your name and you can follow to the topics that people here want you to read.

Besides, You didn’t really want to be an ambulance chaser…did you!!!


I will chime in here for whatever it’s worth. Bear with me here. I am 28. I graduated college in 2008 with a degree in marketing. The economy just hit the fan at that time and there were no jobs, especially in marketing. Prior to college, music was my life. I’m a very serious guitarist. Naturally I didn’t want to go to college but my parents really put their foot down and suggested I do. Music wasn’t an option to study because in my household it wasn’t lucrative enough. So I followed my Dads footsteps and did business, focusing on marketing because of its creative side. As I said, when I came out there were no jobs. I ended up joining several working bands and working retail. The wedding band was the most lucrative and draining. All the while, I was dating my now fiancé who was studying pharmacy. Flashing forward, my fiancè is a pharmacist, makes good money, however, by the time taxes are taken out, and she pays student loans (which she’ll be doing literally for the next 20 years) she makes about the American average. Something around 40-50k a year. (Maybe that’s higher than average?) I think we’re extremely blessed to have financial security because of her job, but she put in 8 years of schooling, and took on a mountain of debt. She owes around 150k. While I’m on the other hand, trying to get a struggling house painting business off the ground. Do I feel like a failure? A little. But MY POINT is, please be extremely cautious as to what college you give your money to and what degree. Looking back - I wish I went to a technical school of some sort. Make absolutely sure the path you’re setting yourself up for has real job growth outlook. Colleges will give you a degree in anything you like. They will gladly take your money. My kids will be welcomed to “go to work” a year or two before college. My generation and most today I assume go to college directly after high school. College does not equal jobs. College equals debt, and you better be damn sure there’s an honest living waiting for you on the other side. I see way too many kids going to college thinking it’s a ticket to some kind of good job. By the way, a large portion of my friends were electrical and mechanical engineers, and it took them years to land a real job in their field. Sorry if I sound jaded but I had to share that with you.