Types of Mechanics - Choosing Your Career Path

Wondering what types of mechanics there are? This is the place to choose your career path and answer the question, "What types of mechanics are there?"
The path to becoming a mechanic can look different for everyone. Of course, this depends on many factors but one major factor is what type of mechanic you want to become.

Something that can be forgotten is that there is not just one type of mechanic.

In fact, there are many types of mechanics. With the way automotive transportation has exploded in popularity, mechanics need to have focuses to treat all the types of transportation. Whether this is working on everyday cars to working on large heavy duty rigs, they all fit under the mechanic umbrella.

So, let’s find out what types of car mechanics and other mechanics are out there!

What Types of Mechanics are There?

Check out the 5 most common types of mechanics. These cover a majority of types of car mechanics and others and many of them have their own categories of mechanics within them. Choosing one of these career paths will prove to be beneficial. If you are willing to continue learning throughout your career and work hard, you will have great job security. Along with that, mechanics get to do something they love, wrench!

     General Automotive Mechanic

When most people hear auto mechanics, a general automotive mechanic is what they will think of. This is the most common out of all the types of mechanics. They are also known as service technicians and they can be found working on everyday cars to light trucks. Because of the large array of vehicles they work on, general automotive mechanics need to have a great understanding of automotive technology.

For starters, service technicians will encounter a vast amount of different repairs. So, they should be extremely knowledgable with both electronic and mechanical components of a car. The mechanical components include engines, brakes, steering systems, drive belts and transmissions. In order to actually complete a repair, auto mechanics need to be good with wrenches, lathes, and more than ever before, computerized diagnostic tools. There are many ways to gain this training. In order to become a mechanic you can either gain formal training through mechanic school or an apprenticeship, or learn as you go!

The world of automotive technology is ever-changing. Today, it is transforming into a more computerized industry than ever before. Mechanics today have tools at their disposal that would seem like science-fiction to mechanics in the past. Therefore, mechanics need to have a great understanding of computers and be comfortable operating them. The future of the automotive repair industry is changing but it will not go away.

Job Requirements

Here are the typical job requirements expected by most companies who hire general automotive mechanics:

  • Ability to use computerized diagnostic tools to identify mechanical issues
  • Knowledge to test different systems and parts for existing or potential problems
  • Routine maintenance – care of tires, oil changes, other fluid maintenance
  • Ability to repair broken, worn, or malfunctioning parts
  • In order to get to specific parts, able to disassemble and reassemble components
  • Strong communication skills to relay information on diagnosis and necessary repairs to clients

Categories of Auto Mechanics

  • Drivability Technicians
  • Transmissions Technicians and Rebuilders
  • Front-end Mechanics
  • Brake Repairers
  • Automotive Air-conditioning Repairers

     Diesel Mechanic

If you want to work on a wide-variety of vehicles and engines, diesel mechanics may be the way to go. Out of all the types of mechanics, this is one of the only areas that lets you work on anything from cars to boats to trucks to even generators. This is because diesel engines are some of the most versatile and reliable engines around. So, if you do choose to become a diesel mechanic, you will have a very important role in keeping some of the most important vehicles running.

Diesel mechanics will work on many vehicles that are used for public services. For example, many firetrucks and ambulances run on diesel engines. This ensures that they are on the road more often as reliable vehicles. On top of that, diesel mechanics get to maintain many different vehicles used for construction such as bulldozers, cranes, and trucks. Some boats and power generators even run on diesel engines! So, of all the types of mechanics, diesel mechanics get to see some of the most variety. 

Job Requirements

As a result of working with so many different pieces of equipment, some of these requirements will vary. These are just a guideline for what you can expect to do as a diesel mechanic:

  • General repairs of broken, worn, or malfunctioning parts
  • Routine maintenance such as replacing batteries, lubricating equipment, and aligning wheels
  • Inspect and diagnose problems with brake systems, engines, transmissions, and steering mechanisms
  • Ability to use hoists and jacks to raise buses, trucks, and other heavy machinery/equipment
  • Use diagnostic equipment and interpret test results to properly maintain vehicles
  • Test driving vehicles for malfunctions
  • Comfortable following a checklist to properly inspect a vehicle/engine

Categories of Diesel Mechanics

  • Automotive Service Mechanics
  • Small Engine Mechanics
  • Heavy Vehicle and Mobile Equipment Mechanics

     Small Engine Mechanics

By no surprise, Small Engine Mechanics work on smaller engines. These are vehicles that are smaller than a regular automobile yet still require professional maintenance. Some people assume right off the bat that since the engines are smaller, the repairs must be easier. This is not always the case. Small engines are much more compact than regular sized engines which means small engine mechanics sometimes have the most work for a small repair.

As a small engine mechanic, you have the opportunity to repair a multitude of mechanical, fuel, and electrical issues in an engine. In order to complete these repairs, small engine mechanics need to be comfortable using wrenches, pliers, and screwdrivers. Along with these, many of the more complex repairs will need detailed diagnostics which will come from running computerized diagnostic tests. Small engine mechanics can work on a variety of engines. Often working on either motorcycles, boats, or other outdoor power equipment. 

Job Requirements

Because of the similar types of engines to general auto mechanics, the job requirements will be extremely similar:

  • Ability to use computerized diagnostic tools to identify mechanical issues
  • Knowledge to test different systems and parts for existing or potential problems
  • Routine maintenance – care of tires, oil changes, other fluid maintenance
  • Ability to repair broken, worn, or malfunctioning parts
  • In order to get to specific parts, able to disassemble and reassemble components
  • Strong communication skills to relay information on diagnosis and necessary repairs to clients

Categories of Small Engine Mechanics

     Heavy Equipment Mechanics

Although heavy equipment mechanics and diesel mechanics work on similar vehicles, their roles are different. For example, some projects will require multiple mechanics so the diesel mechanic would likely focus on the diesel engine while a heavy equipment mechanic would focus on the body and other mechanics of the vehicle. Pieces of large work equipment tend to have many different moving components that need to be regularly maintained.

Many children dream of operating or working on huge construction trucks and equipment, you can make that a reality as a heavy equipment mechanic. Many of the vehicles heavy equipment mechanics work on are in farming, construction, industrial, and even railroad transportation. Because of this, these mechanics get to work on many different types of equipment. Therefore, heavy equipment mechanics can expect to maintain engines, hydraulic systems, and electrical systems. In order to maintain those mechanical components, the mechanics will need to be familiar with a few different pieces of diagnostic equipment, quite a few different power tools, and be skilled in welding. 

Job Requirements

The equipment these mechanics will be working on can be quite large. The job requirements will reflect that as some things seem like tasks for a house rather than a vehicle:

  • Scheduling and completing regular maintenance
  • Utilize diagnostic tools to identify malfunctions
  • Knowledge of and ability to read and understand blueprints, operating manuals, and drawings
  • Ability to inspect and identify issues then repairing/replacing defective parts
  • Test major components
  • Overall understanding to disassemble and reassemble equipment
  • Comfortable with traveling for large equipment repairs on-site

Categories of Heavy Equipment Mechanics

  • Agricultural Equipment Mechanics
  • Mobile Heavy Equipment Mechanics
  • Rail Car Repairers

     Aircraft Mechanic

Fascinated by the metal birds in the sky? Well, being an aircraft mechanic can satisfy your craving for the sky! According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), over 2.7 million passengers fly in and out of U.S. airports each day. So, aircraft mechanics are extremely important as they repair/maintain aircraft while also performing the FAA’s inspections to ensure aircraft are up to code. Aircraft mechanics should be skilled in working on various types of aircraft, like piston, jets, and helicopters.

Although you do not need any certifications to work on aircraft legally, without any you will always need to be supervised by someone who does. So, it is important if you want to advance in your career to obtain either the airframe rating or power plant rating mechanic/repairman certificate from the FAA. With the mechanic certificates rather than the repairman, you will be able to perform all repairs on aircraft while as a repairman you will only be able to perform a few certain tasks.

Job Requirements

Although the major components change, the job requirements are similar to that of an automotive mechanic. You will only be working on something with wings and jets rather than just wheels and an engine.

  • Review and examine all replacement parts for defects before replacing
  • Replace defective parts
  • Comfortable with diagnostic tools to identify electrical and mechanical issues
  • Understand what repair procedures are necessary for certain projects
  • Ability to repair wings, brakes, major components of aircraft, and electrical systems
  • Build habit of inspecting completed repairs to ensure performance standards
  • Keep detailed record of repairs and maintenance done

Categories of Aircraft Mechanics

  • Airframe and Powerplant Mechanic
  • Avionics Technician
  • Designated Airworthiness Representative
  • Inspection Authorized Mechanic
  • Repairman

Choosing Between Types of Car Mechanics or Others

In the end, do your research and get your foot in the door!

Decide what is the best path for you, it might be mechanic school or it might be starting as a janitor and working your way up to a technician. Either way, you should do your research before diving in. Some career paths will require more training than others. Some will require you to travel. Some will be more physically demanding.

Find out which of the types of mechanics pathways is right for you, then go for it. No holding back!

As always, we are here to help. If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please let us know. Our goal is to bring aspiring mechanics closer to their dream job. Contact us today to get on your way!

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