Whats the best way to become a mechanic?

Local community colleges often have good programs. I’d be wary of ‘for profit’ trade schools, some are very expensive ways to obtain a poor education. You’ll need to check around to find a good one.

Thanks for that. It gives me some idea that my imagination of how it could be is not too far off. I worked in media for several years and hve some idea of that basic power structure. Sales is how the whole business can afford everyones paycheck, so I get that office/ shop politics thing. I am kind of a loner so I would prefer that “non-team sheet” a lot of this type of work would be just me, right? There is only room for one under most cars. I like the work I do now, but it would be nice to work 50 hours for a paycheck instead of working 50 hours so I can try to find a good tenant and make not near as much as what $20/hr?

How did you get started?

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.

That’s because most Subaru drivers running around loose are bad drivers, and falsely believe that their cars are impervious to losing control in snow. They then hit curbs, ditches, and other solid, immovable objects, and bend the heck out of parts.

Or, at least, that’s the way Subaru drivers are here in Denver/Boulder, land of the Subaru.


Texases is correct.
After having been a high school counselor for 29 years, I can tell you that a great many of the “for profit” technical schools (and colleges) are nothing more than glorified diploma mills. They exist to suck-up government grant money for a few months, before their discouraged students drop out.

Many community colleges have automotive programs that are affiliated with various manufacturers (Ford, GM, and Toyota come to mind), their shops are filled with up-to-date equipment from the manufacturer, the students are given part-time employment at a dealership while they go to school, and they are essentially guaranteed employment at a dealership upon graduation.

Contrast that with places like Lincoln Tech, where the equipment is old and out of date, the facilities are not large enough to accomodate all of their students (“Today is an observation day for you. You can work on a car in a few days.”), the instructors are rarely up to date, and employment after graduation is…iffy. And, for that wonderful type of training, you (and the government) will pay…probably about 5 times more than the tuition at the superior local community college.

Don’t be a fool.
Avoid the “for profit” schools.

Thank you for that. So really any community college that offers a program that ends with an ASE exam would be appropriate? Or are most just going to end and then u go take the certification test elsewhere? With knowledge but no certification, are my chances of a job non-existent?

In ohio Stark state university has an awesome program with GM. They get a new corvette to work on every year (one Year they got a cavalier and half the normal students signed up). I took a GM communications class sponsored by them and it was amazingly informative. Look local, or see if you can find a highly rated state program.

While wintering in FL a couple of years ago I met some people in an RV park; about 6 of them staying in one park model RV, a temporary situation you can believe. They were attending UTI in Orlando, studying motorcycle repair. They seemed to enjoy what they were doing; had no harsh words about their school and were positive about finding work in the location of their choice after graduation.

Google “UTI Orlando”.

When you complete a form for financial aid you get back a breakdown on how many students at the school you are going to actually graduate. At my Community College the rate is 24.8% and this rate is typical across the nation. Taxpayers are not getting a good return on the money put out for Pell Grants.

At many of the “For Profit” schools and colleges, the actual graduation rate hovers near 6%!


It will take me 10 full semesters (thats 5 years) to get my degree in Systems Administration and I take 12 or more (not over 15) credit hours per semester and never failed a class. In defense of the students, there really is no doing it in 2 years unless you come from High School totally prepared with many classes already completed. Many people just don’t hang in there for 5 years too get a 2 year degree.

I’d be wary of ‘for profit’ trade schools, some are very expensive ways to obtain a poor education.

It’s NOT just the “for profit” trade schools…but ANY of the “for profit” schools. Since anyone who has money can get into these schools they tend to dumb down the courses. I’ve interviewed several candidates from these schools…and IMHO their education is a JOKE. They have little to none practical application of the material taught. Case in point…When asked one student about his knowledge of databases…he couldn’t answer some of the simplest questions. Their ONE database class they were taught what a database is…and the basic understanding of how it works…Any other decent university database class…you are taught what a database is and a basic understanding the first two classes…After that you actually design tables…learn how to normalize a database…actually write SQL statements to load and extract data…write store procedures…etc…We gave up trying to hire someone from those schools with a degree in Computer Science. I’ve met kids out of highschool who’ve been taught more.

How right you are, Mike!

My first introduction to this phenomenon was MANY years ago, when one of my students–unbeknown to me–applied to “DV Institute” technical school (now, it is “DV University”) for their Electronic Engineering Technology program. As we know, knowledge of at least basic Algebra is the absolute minimum level of math necessary for this type of program, and it is advisable to be proficient in at least Intermediate Algebra in order to be able to comprehend and master the courses in this type of program. Knowledge of Physics is also necessary for this type of program, as you know.

The problem was that this student was a Special Education student, whose transcript simply listed courses such as “English 1, Math-2, General Science”, etc. with no mention of anything approaching Algebraic skills, Physics, and other college-prep courses. The accompanying course descriptions made it clear to anyone reviewing the transcript that these courses were absolutely, totally inadequate for entry into something like Electronics Engineering Technology.

Well–guess what? He was accepted.
As I feared, he was quickly overwhelmed by even the dumbed-down curriculum at “DV Institute”, and he left the program. However, DV Institute’s personnel urged him to “at least give it a try for 3 months”. So, he stayed for the recommended 3 months. That–of course–was so that “DV” could collect their Pell Grant disbursement from the Federal Government.

Although that particular school now has–incredibly–“University status”, it is fairly obvious that their admission policies have not changed. They still essentially admit anyone and everyone, and their graduation rate–even with their incredibly dumbed-down curriculum–is abysmally low. And, those who do graduate usually wind up with jobs unrelated to their major, simply because of the bad experience that employers (like your company) have had with their graduates.

Another “for profit” (which has a name suspiciously similar to a very prestigious branch of the University of California across the bay from San Francisco), is perhaps even more laughable than “DV”. My attorney tells the tale of working there as an instructor in their Paralegal program. No matter what minimal demands she made of the students, they largely refused to do the work or hand in assignments. And, her demands were truly minimal since she realized that her students had both little academic skill and little motivation for success.

She vented about this situation one day in the faculty room, and stated that she would probably need to flunk the majority of her students. The other instructors quickly advised her to do as they do, and give everyone a passing grade. So, even with the incredibly dumbed-down curriculum at these schools and “Universities”, passing grades are simply given away like prizes from a Cracker Jack box.

Incidentally, she left this “college” after one semester because the low or non-existent academic standards left her–literally–nauseated.

That was the other thing that got me too with these “for profit universities”…for a computer science major…Only ONE math class was required…“What a joke”. Take a look at the curriculum of any decent universities curriculum for Computer Science…MOST…it’s a MINIMUM of 30 Math credit hours. And many classes are both Computer Science AND Math classes (Linear Algebra, Discrete Math, Statistics, Quantum Analysis).

There are other factors to consider. For my first two years I went to a community college before transferring to Syracuse University. I just couldn’t afford 4 years at Syracuse. I transferred without ever graduating. There were about 3 classes I didn’t take because Syracuse wouldn’t transfer them in, so why bother taking them. So I fall into that 24.8% that didn’t graduate from the Community College.

Also many people go there just for certificate courses…or just to take a class for a specified skill. And then there are many who just take a class for the fun of it.

But in general…I agree…while it may not be 24%…it’s still way too high. I don’t know what else you would do.

Does anyone ever break into the business the “old fashioned” way anymore? what I mean is I had some aptitude with the cars my father owned, then I took auto shop every year of high school. Then I lined myself up for the military and I was out hitchhiking around saying goodby to everyone and vet who was a ex Air Force MP picked me up and I told him what I was doing and he said “no way you come to work where I am” and he took me in to a business that made aircraft ground support equipment and I just kept advancing through what the other guys at work taught me (many layoffs though but not as tough as todays world). Eventually I went with cars and not equipment (VW’s) and the training got more formal and documented but that is how it all started, out hitchhiking on my last week before the military, boy was that recruiter pissed off.I often wonder if I made the right choice as the draft had just ended and I was in no danger of going to to Vietnam unless I tried, they wanted to teach me electronics, it was 1973.

It will take me 10 full semesters (thats 5 years) to get my degree in Systems Administration and I take 12 or more (not over 15) credit hours per semester and never failed a class.

They actually have a degree in System Administration???

Nerdnic, I’m late to this thread. My advice … don’t do it. If you are determined to become a wrench, I would go for aircraft.

If you go cars, start at a dealership. The schools are current with technology.Also you will learn “the game”.

I started out working on cars and had the great satisfaction of fixing something. Bringing it back to life.Gas and oil are in my bloodstream.

As time went by, fixing cars was all about beating a time clock, and deciding the best decisions to avoid long drawn out jobs and avoiding poor decisions by the vehicle owner or shop owner. Remember, you are only as good as your customer lets you be. If you try to save the customer money , ultimately everyone will point their finger back at you when something goes wrong.

I did work at a restoration shop. I could fix cars without time or money constaints. No rushing a job. Doing it right. I loved the job, but the pay sucked.

I would also advise you to probably go for a Federal job. Work for the Post Office or possibly a county job with benefits and a salary.Also, the majority of tools are supplied to you.