Whats the best way to become a mechanic?

I mean specifically, if you think you could really enjoy working with your hands and the problem solving aspect of it, you were always good in math, are you supposed to go to one of those tech colleges? and if so, which ones are good? are there better ways to get into the field? Does any particular angle (diesel, motorcycle, etc.) offer more opportunity to travel or work abroad? I did try searching the existing posts, but was unsuccessful in locating any relevant discussions.

As a retired mechanic and shop owner, if I were starting over, I would specialize in one popular make and model or small group of similar models and get very good at working on them…A tech-school education, a stint in a dealership’s shop to learn the ropes then find two or three guys like yourself and open your own shop…You want to own the place, not lease or rent it…If you have a high mechanical aptitude, (a must, really) don’t overlook the military as a pathway to acquiring the skills you seek…

Today, mechanical ability is not enough. You must have some business savvy also to survive in a very competitive and unforgiving world…

Thank you for your input. That is exactly the advice I am looking for. I have a handful of rental properties and have taught myself much about plumbing and electricity over the last five years, considered going that direction, but i actually like transportation and engines more than a homes pipes and wires. I was kinda hoping to find something that would make it easy for me to try out new places, even if it means being hired by someone else. I see my own shop in the distant future, maybe, but I am wondering about diesel techs. Are they in demand? The way I see it is that giant companies will always have that heavy machinery, locomotives, construction and mining…is that the better play for ending up in a weird random country? Military would probably be the way to go to get to a weird random place, huh?

thanks again, this is helping me narrow my focus, which is why i started the thread, sorry for the rambles.

Heavy equipment maintenance is just that, HEAVY…Those guys are a different breed…Don’t overlook aviation. Aircraft maintenance is clean, high paying, secure, but very exacting. No second chances here…You’re a team player and you go by the book, period… You like big Diesels? Chief Engineer on an ocean-going vessel will satisfy your wanderlust…

Towards the end of my career, I specialized in emissions testing and repair…This was 20 years ago…As a business owner, it was my most successful period…I realized then that it was the specialists that were making the big bucks…The jack of all trades mechanic has a hard time fixing every problem that drives or is towed onto his lot…A lot of long hours and gray hair and few rewards…There are 250 models of vehicles sold in the United States. Fixing them all has become impossible…

If you like being a mechanic, heating could be the right field for you. Competent oil burner repairmen are worth a lot. A good one will make you really happy when he works for an hour and a half and the furnace works for years afterward. I would be in that field if I could lug anything up and down stairs.

Small engine repair is similar in customer relations. There is real value in that work too.

how focused of a specialty? like only doing transmissions? thats one i had come up with before, because every shop sends out the trannys to a tranny guy, right? is just being an asian specialist too generic, will i still need to narrow the focus for my best gamble? can a tranny guy work on every tranny? they can, they do, right?

IMHO going to a community college program is definitely the best way to start no matter what field of mechanics you choose, be it aircraft, automotive, or any other. In aircraft and automotive you’ll get to experience the latest in equipment and technology and the program should (ask up front) culminate in taking specific FAA or ASE exams. That third party credential is crucial, and required if you’re going to work on aircraft. Fields like oil HVAC also generally require licensing, and your state should have a publication available through Employment Security that defines its requirements.

All fields have unique eccentricities, so it’s a good idea to talk with people in he field, perhaps at a trade show, before making a decision. For example, aircraft are great to work on in the daytime in good weather, but you need to go where the job is, and if you end up on graveyard shift in Minnesota you might not enjoy it so much. I’ve walked down a wing on a windy below-zero day to repair an airplane, and it’s cold on that aluminum. HVAC is great if you’re busy and the weather is good, but not so great at 2:00am fixing the heating system of a client company in a snowstorm.

Techschool is IMHO the place to start. But think carefully about what yuo want in life…you just might get it.

I am thinking very carefully about this. I am almost 30 and need to make the right choice. I am not too good with people, thts why I am angling away from my home rental business, too much hassle to get prople to pay rent, hassle to get people to move in. My favorite part is fixing all the stuff that comes up, and I like engines, have had a few different cars, old diesel benz old rabbit diesel, I rida and very much enjoy motorcycles too. I am trying to narrow my focus, thanks for. your input.

Speaking as a licensed aircraft powerplant mechanic, you really need to think about this one. That field can be very up and down. Very. In the right situation it can be an nice gig but so much depends on the economy. The slightest downturn can sink jobs and companies very quickly. Great job today, unemployed next week.

Actually, the transmission thing you mention is (in my opinion) the best one to get into as far as automotive work and is one I was going to suggest.
Most new car dealers do transmission work in house as do the chain transmission shops.
Most independent shops, etc do not perform transmission rebuilds because it’s simply not a cost effective repair for them. It eats up a lot of mechanic hours that could better spent. The new car dealers don’t have a choice in the matter most of the time; especially as regards warranty.

If you become proficient on automatics you should be able to work yourself into a pretty nice gig. The ideal one would be like a poster on this forum (Transman) who does bench work only if I remember correctly. None of that back breaking R & R (remove and replace) transmission. It’s bench work and that’s the cat’s meow.

I’m in agreement with Caddyman, try to specialize if at all possible.

I do agree that transmissions are what to specialize in but we can’t all do transmissions, there is not enough work. I always thought I would be around to get in on the “alternative” type vehicles, looks like is missed it by about 5 years. At BMW Dealerships internal automatic transmission work is not allowed and people are not trained for it. Perhaps not the same story with the manual trans but a heap of special tools to work on manual transmisions. I got by with AC/electrical,light line work. No oil changes,no brake jobs,suited me just fine.

I did not know that BMW did not allow internal work on automatic transmissions. That’s far different than what I’ve been through in which the tech does the job assigned, no matter if it’s an oil change, transmission repair, or engine work.

My personal favorite is suspension damage, especially with Subarus. For some reason I saw more damaged and tweaked parts on those than any other car and flat rate times were good.
(I got snowed under one week and gave up most of my lunch hours but a 92 hour flag on a slightly over 40 hour week was a hoot.)

So, oldschool, what do you mean by alternative, like electric cars? I considered general electrical engineer, I like seeing how stuff works and all that. Does transman do rebuilds for companies that are removing and replacing? Do you guys think that there will be a need for trained technicians for alternative vehicles? Is aiming toward “light diesel” like the duramax and cummins in one ton trucks smart? Will the usa ever see diesels in enough passenger type vehicles to need more diesel tech?s

AC electrical? Like 120v home current or does this also mean something else? Oh wait, you specialized in wiring and air conditioning work?

Mr/Mrs nerdic:

Assume that you will become some type of motor mechanic, auto trans, engine management electronics, body repair or whatever. One day while fixing yet another terminally busted car under a flat rate book deadline with a demanding boss giving you the evil eye and an impatient customer pacing back and forth in a waiting room, you might imagine that it would be nice to have your own business, taking care, for example, of rental properties with nobody telling you how much time you have for coffee breaks.

This could be a rite of passage along the way to your own auto repair business.

Fatigue can set in with almost any vocation and must be lived with. You may need a break from your responsibilities. Can you get a property management service to take over while you take a vacation to get refreshed so you can evaluate your situation objectively?

Perhaps also you might want to aim a little higher and get an associate degree in some type of engineering technology such as electrical, electronic or mechanical or beyond that, a degree in engineering?

Think a little too about what the future holds for motor vehicle technology. I don’t know what we will have for drive trains in 20 years so that may need to be researched so you don’t end up being a buggy whip socket repair person, so to speak, with nowhere to turn to.

If you get into the electronic end of motor vehicle repair I would expect you to be able to adapt to changing conditions more easily than if your specialty was automatic transmissions. I would expect diesels to always be here with electronics, of course.

I have done the ojective break from it all thing. But the truth is I can’t walk away from it. I mean in your example, I am the type that would walk out of a job when I believe I am being unfairly treated. Tell the boss he can do it, by himself. I would be able to make that decision. I don’t have that luxury right now, nor can I go try another climate and find income easily. I suspect I will always have my own business of some sort, it is what I do, but I would prefer to get paid for my time and work in addition to my own residual income. Just like anyone else I would think, I want a job that might turn into a career and some investments, my money working for me and me working for money. I may be romanticizingworking for someone else, but it would be nice to leave the job at work so to speak.

But, it sounds like diesel is likely to hang around in large industry for awhile, right? That could be good?

Thanks for input, I am just searching for options where I think I could “enjoy my work”

They say you should do something you would do for free and figure out how to get paid for it. I have friends that have lived and worked in various countries and I might enjoy that too, so I have some criteria in mind, but wasn’t sure how to direct it.

Is a trade school the best way to start? Are there any recommendations for specific schools? Thanks again

Yes you are correct, it is “AC” as in airconditioning. I left the Dealership in 2003 and floated around some chain shops that I won’t mention by name until my back got so bad it was disability in 2005. What I am getting to is I am not really current on how the Dealerships are today. Some allowed this type of specialization (dividing how the work was dispatched by the "groups’ you were in) and I think this was the better way. The old way was a tech was required to do “bumper to bumper”(that is really what it was called) repairs. At my skill level the way I was able to make the most money was, come in early and grab a PDI (pre deliverl inspection) or two,then stay late and either do more PDI’s or take a walk up to sales and let it be known you are in the shop in case they needed your services (for like adding acessories). It was also good to let sales know you were in the shop for Saturday work, no matter how mad your boss got if you had sales backing you up they could not touch you as sales was the big dog, what sales wanted,sales got. It is a dog eat dog world in the shop and I did not make any friends by taking what others considered “gravy” before the start of the normal work day and after the end of the normal work day, but everyone could have done just what I did, and not complain how little they were making. We ran “teams” and I had two flag sheets, one for team work and one for non-team work and it is best if only certain people know that your “no-team” sheet has more hours on it than the team sheet.

Best way to become a mechanic – buy an old Jaguar.

You are confused with “Best way to become a pedesterian”.

Grab a wrench