So You Want to Open Your Own Engine Repair Shop?
Are you the handy type, who can take apart anything and figure out how to put it back together on your own? Have you always had a knack for working with machinery, and want to find a way to expand this hobby into a profession?
Maybe you should consider opening your own engine repair shop. Experienced mechanics are still in great demand today, and having the knowledge and skills to pull off one of the hardest jobs in automotive repair can be quite lucrative. The engine is the heart of your car, and most drivers are willing to spend extra to see a specialist for what is arguably the most important and delicate part of a vehicle. It will take a lot of hard work and dedication, but with enough passion you could be your own boss and doing what you love within just a few years.
Step One: Get Educated
Obviously, before you take apart anyone’s precious engine, you need to know what you’re doing.
The most common courses are offered through vocational or other post-secondary automotive training programs. These usually run for between six months and a year to earn a certificate or degree, depending on how extensive of a program you choose. Here, you’ll receive a combination of classroom instruction and hands-on training in almost all aspects of automotive repair including ignition and computer system maintenance, wheel balance, and battery, starting system and fuel injection maintenance.
If you so desire, many programs also offer further specialization training in any single area of automotive repair. Say, for example, you want to specialize on diesel truck repair. With only a few months extra training, you could become “the diesel repair person” in your area.
When you decide it’s time to get some training, there are a few key things to keep in mind when looking for a good school. Pay attention to things like faculty-student ratio and whether or not the school offers career placement assistance. These are good indications that the program pays good attention to its students and will give you the high-quality education you need to succeed.
Also, try to find a program accredited by an organization that recognizes excellent automotive repair schools, such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges or the National Automotive Technician Education Foundation. This accreditation not only ensures you will receive a top quality education with a modern curriculum, but it can also help you to secure a good mechanic job later on down the line. This will be important, because…
Step 2: Complete On-The-Job Training
To open your own engine repair shop, you’ll need to be a qualified senior mechanic or service technician. In order to become qualified, you will be required to complete two to five years of on-the-job training with another qualified senior mechanic.
With your automotive repair certificate or degree in hand, you should set your sights on getting an entry-level trainee position with a mechanic you respect and want to learn from. He or she will most likely start you on simple jobs, such as technician helper or lubricant worker. After you’ve learned more skills and proven yourself capable of taking on more difficult tasks you will be privy to more delicate and difficult procedures. After a few years, you’ll be ready to call yourself a qualified senior mechanic. But first, you’ll have to get certified.
Step 3. Become a Certified Master Automobile Technician
Ready to strike out on your own as a mechanic? You’ll need certification first, which means passing some tests. Eight tests, actually.
The standard credential for certified technicians is that offered by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (NIASE). This involves eight separate tests, each between 50 and 60 questions and each taking about an hour, with each testing a different area of automotive repair. These include Engine Repair, Automatic Transmission/Transaxle, Manual Drive Train & Axles, Suspension & Steering, Brakes, Electrical/Electronic Systems, Heating & Air Conditioning, and Engine Performance tests, with an optional Light Vehicle Diesel Engines that is not required for certification but is recommended.
In order to even take the tests, a mechanic-in-training must have at least two years of on-the-job experience or one year with relevant schooling. Certification is valid for five years, at which point every mechanic must be retested in order to remain certified. Retests are about half the length of the original test, but are updated regularly to keep everyone up-to-date.
Upon passing all of these tests, you will finally be a Certified Master Automobile Technician, and ready to open up your own auto repair shop.
But you wanted to open your own engine repair shop, right? In that case, you may want to take one last step:
Step 4. Consider Specialized Training and Certification
If you’re looking to specialize in one aspect of automotive repair, like engine repair, then you can seriously increase your business, your profits, and your reputation by undertaking some specialized training and getting specialized certification.
Many automotive schools offer specialized engine repair training in three- to six-month programs. This can involve in-depth classroom and hands-on engine education with a certified specialist instructor.
Once you’ve completed training you should register for specialized certification tests. In addition to the Certified Master Technician tests, the NIASE also offers an Advanced Engine Performance Specialist Certification Test, an Electronic Diesel Engine Diagnosis Specialist Certification Test, and Engine Machinist Certification Tests, among others. Generally, the more specialized certifications you hold, the more specific and more valuable your work becomes.
Becoming a specialized, certified engine repair mechanic can be the key to making your engine repair shop stand out against other mechanics in your area, and could be the main force driving your customers to you rather than the competitors. You will be more experienced, more trustworthy, more knowledgeable, and an all around better mechanic.
So there you have it. It’s not an easy road, and it will take a lot of sweat, a lot of studying, and a lot of hard, repetitive work. If you make it through, however, you’ll be able to hang a sign on your own engine repair shop and get started doing what you love to do.