What are the Different Types of Mechanic Jobs?

D. Jeffress

Mechanics use their expert knowledge to diagnose problems and perform maintenance and repairs on different types of machines and vehicles. There are several different types of mechanic jobs available, as professionals usually specialize within the field. Experts may work with commercial gasoline-powered automobiles, aircraft, diesel trucks and equipment, industrial machinery, or small engines.

A mechanic may work for a shop that does tune ups and general maintenance.
A mechanic may work for a shop that does tune ups and general maintenance.

Automobile mechanics perform repair work on passenger cars and trucks. They frequently specialize by working exclusively with electrical systems, transmissions, brake systems, or engine compartments. Mechanics might use diagnostic computer equipment to discover problems, and employ a number of different hand and power tools to make repairs. Most automobile mechanics are employed by independent repair shops and car dealerships, though some established mechanics are self-employed, working out of their own private garages.

Small engine mechanics can work on lawnmowers.
Small engine mechanics can work on lawnmowers.

Many elite mechanic jobs can be found in the aviation industry. Aircraft mechanics are responsible for performing preventative maintenance and repairs on various types of airplanes and helicopters. Because aircraft repair can be very detailed, a prospective mechanic must usually complete a one to four year avionics program from an accredited school. Aviation mechanic jobs are found with commercial airlines, flight schools, and private businesses.

A mechanic working.
A mechanic working.

Diesel mechanics perform detailed repair work on diesel-powered trucks, buses, boats, and construction equipment, such as cranes and bulldozers. They usually have highly specialized knowledge of complex diesel engines and transmission systems. Diesel mechanics may work for specialty shops, construction companies, or facilities that manufacture heavy equipment.

A mechanic who works at a rural airport may maintain a crop dusting service's fleet of aircraft.
A mechanic who works at a rural airport may maintain a crop dusting service's fleet of aircraft.

Several types of mechanic jobs can be found in the manufacturing industry. Modern factories and manufacturing plants usually employ several different types of machinery that may require regular maintenance and occasional repairs. Industrial mechanics are skilled at immediately identifying the cause of malfunctions, making quick repairs, and replacing parts as necessary to keep production moving along.

There are various career options available for a trained mechanic.
There are various career options available for a trained mechanic.

Mechanics may also specialize with small engines, diagnosing and repairing problems with various small machines. A small engine mechanic may work on motorcycles, lawnmower engines, chain saws, power tools, or other common pieces of equipment that run on gasoline or electricity. Most small engine mechanics work for repair shops, retail stores, and landscaping companies.

A mechanic might specialize in vehicle brake systems.
A mechanic might specialize in vehicle brake systems.

Many new mechanic jobs are being created due to the increasing popularity of alternative fuel vehicles and machinery. Experts with knowledge of electric engines, hydrogen cells, and various other alternative fuel systems typically enjoy many employment opportunities. Mechanics with years of experience and educational backgrounds in engineering are often able to get involved in the research and development of new, more efficient engines and vehicles.

Changing oil is a common job for auto mechanics.
Changing oil is a common job for auto mechanics.
A diesel mechanic often works on heavy machinery, such as bulldozers.
A diesel mechanic often works on heavy machinery, such as bulldozers.
Some automotive mechanics specialize in one part of the vehicle's systems, such as the transmission.
Some automotive mechanics specialize in one part of the vehicle's systems, such as the transmission.

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Discussion Comments

jholcomb

@ElizaBennett - My father is a mechanic and it's been a good career for him. He worked behind a desk for a while and got laid off. A lot of guys at that age never find another job, but he was able to go back to "spinning wrenches."

I don't know how he got into it, but I used to be a temp in a body shop so I know something about how mechanics are paid. "Body men" (who fix dents and do other body work) can be considered a lower tier, but some of them own their own garages and are very successful. Both "body men" and service department mechanics are paid not by real hours, but by how many hours a job should, in theory, take. (I.e., each task is paid a set number of hours.)

So the faster you are, the more you get paid, as long as the shop feeds you enough work. The place I worked at had a guy who could do thirty "hours" a day and made a hundred grand a year.

ElizaBennett

My nephew is interested in automotive mechanic jobs and I want to give him good advice. (I certainly don't want to steer him away from it. He's not a real academic kid and I like the idea of him having a job that can't be outsourced to China.) Where can I find out more about that kind of work, how it pays, and how to get into it?

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