Jacob Peterson

A Career as a Mechanical Engineer

Career Overview

Automobile mechanics inspect, maintain, and repair cars and light trucks.

Auto mechanics examine belts, hoses, plugs, brakes, and fuel systems. They may install or repair accessories, such as heaters and windshield wipers. They inspect and lubricate engines and parts. They tune engines to use less fuel.

Auto mechanics talk to owners to find out what problems the car is having. They examine cars and try to eliminate simple things that could cause the problem. Sometimes they test drive cars to observe their performance. They use a variety of testing equipment, such as hand-held diagnostic computers and compression gauges.

Once the problem is identified, mechanics make adjustments or repairs. Sometimes they replace or rebuild damaged parts. For large repairs, mechanics estimate the cost and get the customer's approval before doing any work.

Career Skills and Interests

Communicate

  • Read and understand written information.
  • Listen to others, understand, and ask questions.
  • Express ideas clearly when speaking or writing.

Reason and Problem Solve

  • Understand new materials by studying and working with them.
  • Analyze ideas and use logic to determine their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Notice when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong.
  • Identify problems and review information. Develop, review, and apply solutions.
  • Combine several pieces of information and draw conclusions.
  • Use reasoning to discover answers to problems.
  • Develop rules or follow guidelines for arranging items.
  • Judge the costs and benefits of a possible action.
  • Concentrate and not be distracted while performing a task.

Use Math and Science

  • Use math and science skills to solve problems.

Manage Oneself, People, Time, and Things

  • Manage the time of self and others.
  • Check how well one is learning or doing something.

Work with People

  • Use several methods to teach others how to do something.
  • Be aware of others' reactions and change behavior in relation to them.

Work with Things

  • Determine the causes of technical problems and find solutions for them.
  • Repair machines or systems.
  • Determine the tools and equipment needed to do a job.
  • Maintain equipment on a routine basis. Determine when and what kind of maintenance is needed.
  • Install equipment, machines, wiring, or programs to meet specifications.
  • Watch gauges, dials, and output to make sure a machine is working properly.
  • Operate and control equipment.
  • Test and inspect products and processes. Evaluate quality or performance.

Perceive and Visualize

  • Imagine how something will look if it is moved around or its parts are rearranged.
  • Identify a pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in distracting material.
  • Quickly and accurately compare letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns.
  • Know one's location in a physical setting and recognize where other objects are located in relation to oneself.

Career Working Conditions

Interpersonal Relationships

  • Are responsible for the work done by other workers.
  • Are responsible for the safety of customers and coworkers.
  • Have a medium level of social contact. They work mostly with tools and cars but also interact frequently with customers.
  • Communicate daily by telephone and in person.
  • May work as part of a team of technicians and mechanics.

Physical Work Conditions

  • May work indoors or outdoors, but more commonly work indoors.
  • Are often exposed to hazardous situations, conditions, and equipment that result in cuts, bruises, or minor burns.
  • Work inside enclosed vehicles, such as trucks, cars, and vans. Often work in cramped work spaces underneath vehicles that require getting into awkward positions.
  • Regularly wear protective gear, such as goggles or earplugs.
  • Are exposed to contaminants, such as antifreeze and chemical degreasers, on a daily basis.
  • Are exposed to sounds and noise levels that are distracting and uncomfortable on a daily basis.
  • Are sometimes exposed to inadequate lighting conditions.
  • May sometimes work in cold or hot temperatures, depending on the work locale.
  • May work near others, such as when sharing the same space in a garage.

Work Performance

  • Must be sure that all details are done and their work is exact. Errors could cause serious injury to themselves or other workers.
  • Make decisions that strongly impact clients and their company's reputation on regular basis. They rarely consult a supervisor before deciding the correct repairs.
  • Must meet strict daily and weekly deadlines. Customers want their vehicles returned as quickly as possible.
  • Determine some of their daily tasks and goals on their own, but often consult a superior first.
  • May repeat the same physical activities.

Hours/Travel

  • Usually work a standard 40-hour week.
  • May work evenings and weekends if employed in a shop with extended hours.

Career Wages and Outlook

Mechanics are paid using one of several options. Some are paid a "flat rate." This means they are paid for a set number of hours for a particular repair. Other mechanics are paid a set hourly wage regardless of the type of repairs they do. A few are paid a flat rate plus a commission based on the labor cost charged to customers.

Wages vary depending on the employer and the area of the country. Wages also vary according to the level of skill and experience of the mechanic. Many master mechanics earn between $70,000 and $100,000 a year.

Benefits vary by employer. Many full-time auto mechanics receive benefits. These may include paid vacation, sick leave, and health insurance. Those who are self-employed must provide their own insurance.

Hourly Wages: $18.73

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