Car mechanics specialise in the service and repair of vehicles. They work on the maintenance and repairing of all aspects of cars, by performing preventative and restorative work on the engine, electrics, gears, brakes, exhaust system, security features, fuel pump and air conditioning. Car mechanics will also carry out the routine servicing of vehicles, and providing advice for customers on the condition of their vehicles, and will carry out tests for mechanical faults.
If a vehicle has a serious problem, then the driver will not only need the fault to be repaired, but will want the task to be performed correctly, and in a manner that prevents any future recurrences. Only an experienced and qualified car mechanic can provide this level of service. So, car mechanics have an important role to play in the repairing and checking of a large number of vehicles, in and industry with approx 31million cars on the road in the UK.
Those who hope to one day work as a car mechanic are expected to have good GCSE results in Mathematics, Science, Design Technology and English. However, although employers want to know that aspiring mechanics can demonstrate knowledge of science and engineering, and possess strong practical abilities, they will still need training. One of the ways that this can be achieved is through an apprenticeship.
Trainee car mechanics can undertake an apprenticeship with a qualified employer, although they are often limited to school leavers, and those aged 25 or under.
Apprenticeship programmes involve two parts of training: part of it will be practical on-the-job training within motor mechanics, and the other part will be theoretical training. Apprenticeships comprise of studying for an NVQ qualification such as NVQ Level 2 Vehicle Maintenance and Repair, and functional skills in Maths and English. Other apprenticeship schemes will start with a Level 3 qualification, which generally require entry level qualifications such as a minimum of 4-5 GCSE’s including Maths and English, or equivalent BTEC qualifications.
Apprenticeships are one of the main ways of getting into the industry. Huge giants in the car industry such as BMW, Honda and Jaguar carry out recruitment of apprentices each year, and one of the biggest tips is to study their website to see the key qualities and behaviours they are looking for.
An alternative to an apprenticeship for aspiring mechanics is to earn qualifications through a course. In the United Kingdom, there are several different qualifications in vehicle mechanics, which each have their own unique core elements. This will provide you with the necessary training to become a car mechanic.
A BTEC covers motor vehicle management and technology. This is designed for those who hope to manage motoring companies in the future. There are two BTEC’s: a HNC and a HND. A HNC is a Higher National Certificate, or a BTEC Edexcel Higher National Certificate in Vehicle Operations Management, to give its full title. This course looks at managing people, managing resources, finance for vehicle operations and a specific project. This is considered equivalent to a GCSE level qualification. Getting this certificate allows you to progress towards getting a HND; a BTEC Edexcel Higher National Diploma in Vehicle Operations Management. The core modules are the same, but are more detailed and advanced. Getting the Diploma is considered to be the equivalent of a degree in motor mechanics.
The City & Guilds offers a large number of different qualifications. They are tailored towards different aspects of motor mechanics, and are based on the experience level and knowledge of students. For instance, the City & Guilds Level 1 IVQ Certificate in Vehicle Maintenance and Repair focuses on basic aspects of motor mechanics, such as being able to use tools and common workshop equipment, and knowing how to identify joining methods and materials. However, at Level 2, the qualification becomes a diploma, and focuses on more advanced aspects of motor mechanics, including the removal and replacement of engine units and components, auxiliary electrical units, and chassis units.
The City & Guilds do offer other courses, however. For instance, the Award in Vehicle Maintenance and Repair is a QCF (Qualifications and Credit Framework) is a qualification earned over a short period of time, with three different levels (depending on one’s experience). The qualification is well respected within the industry, and is a valuable one for aspiring car mechanics to have when seeking employment.
What Employers Are Looking For?
The first thing employers will want to see is your knowledge of motor vehicle technology and new developments in the industry. Of course, your qualifications will also be considered.
In addition, employers will be looking at your background, not only for industrial arts and safety, but also some computer science. You must hold a driving licence that is valid for the type of vehicles you’ll be serving. You have to be in good physical condition, given the demands of the position. And it helps to possess good problem-solving skills, and to be able to work quickly and accurately.
Customer service is extremely important. There will be times when you need to explain problems to customers, and also you will have to deal with irate customers, so showing understanding and patience can be crucial in retaining customers and building business if either you work for an employer or you become self employed.
Flexibility and hard work are crucial abilities employers look for. Car mechanics will need to work late in the evenings and work some weekends. Hard work and dedication are the key traits needs to succeed especially when working on car by yourself, were concentration is a necessity.
How Much Money Will I Make as a Car Mechanic in the UK?
The starting salary for a car mechanic, or for a trainee mechanic, ranges between £7,000 and £11,000 on apprenticeship schemes. The actual figure will be determined by both age and experience. With the necessary qualifications, a car mechanic’s annual salary will rise to between £13,000 and £20,000, depending on who they work for and where. With experience, the annual salary should rise to around £26,000.
If a car mechanic is self-employed, however, then their salary can vary, month by month. It will depend on how much work they have to do, the tasks that they perform, and the frequency of their work. Therefore, self-employed car mechanics do not determine their salary on an annual basis, but job-by-job. It’s worth noting that most self-employed car mechanics will start off by working for a business, and once they have gotten experience and earned enough money, they will then be able to support themselves by being self-employed. Self employed mechanics can in essence earn what they want, as with all jobs when you work for yourself it depends on how hard you want to work.
Pros and Cons of Becoming a Car Mechanic in the UK
There are pros and cons to being a car mechanic. The key positives and negatives are listed below.
• For car lovers, the chance to make a living by practicing your hobby
• opportunities to work on other vehicles, such as motorcycles
• You will have the necessary skills to repair your own vehicles
• More computer-based work for modern mechanics; not solely physical
• Work environments can be poorly lit and dirty
• Mislaying tools and car parts can lead to injuries
• Some of the machinery can be very noisy
• You may be in uncomfortable positions for an extended period of time
Helpful Contact Information
For details on the different roles, skills required and necessary qualifications of a car mechanic, visit:
For more information about the City & Guilds qualifications, contact:
City & Guilds Head Office
1 Glitspur Street
Telephone 0844 543 0000