Based on your feedback, we're launching weekly articles to provide more detailed information on securing some of best jobs out there for veterans, along with a list of four things you need to secure these jobs. This week's hot job: Automotive Service Technician and Mechanic.
If you want to fix and maintain cars for the rest of your career, you have to love them. Being an absolute gear-head will get you through boredom, frustration, and hardship. If you're the guy everyone knows as "the car person," this is probably the right job for you. If you're willing to get dirty, work with power tools, and thoroughly muck around with modern transportation, seriously consider this as a career option.
Becoming a mechanic starts with finishing high school and ends with obtaining the right certifications. If your high school offers auto-shop as a class, take it. If your local junior college offers associates degrees in automotive service technology, earn it. The time commitment isn't high, nor is the cost, and walking into a job interview with education and experience under your belt will make you a competitive applicant. Some positions don't require certification prior to being hired because they'll place you in a program after you've been employed. Make sure you know how a particular company operates before going into the interview. When in doubt, being more educated on the topic can't hurt your chances.
Cars are fairly universal in the U.S., so find one and get to work. There are a wealth of resources online to help you understand the basic parts and workings of a car, and you don't necessarily have to take it all apart to learn how to fix it. (Although, you'll eventually have to.) If you're completely lost, start simple with basic maintenance like changing the oil, checking coolant levels, and ensuring the tires aren't worn out.
Aside from your own experience, the National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence provides credentials for mechanics and service technicians. Even if your prospective employer doesn't require a certification, it may increase your pay. Although the basic principles behind the workings of an auto have largely gone unchanged, new technology is always changing how people interact with their vehicle. Understanding how things like the sensors and GPS are wired in will demonstrate willingness to stay current in your knowledge and your passion for the job.
If you feel prepared and are ready to plunge into the job search, search for Automotive Service Technician and Mechanic jobs on Monster.com.