In today’s turbulent world, changing careers is a common occurrence for many people. Automobile technicians (more commonly known as mechanics) play a big part in keeping Norfolk, VA running, and it’s as good a job as any for someone starting over professionally. Keeping these four things in mind as you start your second career in this field will improve your odds of a successful transition.
Make Sure You’re Up to It
Working as an automotive mechanic offers a unique experience in terms of job duties. To do it, you have to be able to do a wide range of things: diagnose common car issues, fix those issues yourself, perform preventive maintenance tasks like oil changes and brake testing, accurately inform the customer of their car’s condition, and keep detailed records on all of this, to name only a few. These responsibilities all use very different skill sets, and not everyone is comfortable switching gears so often.
Before you commit to becoming a mechanic, you should ask yourself a few questions. Have you done any work like this before? Are you equally comfortable using both your brain and your hands in your work? Is one side of that equation going to need more focus and attention than the other during your studies? You’ll need to know these things in order to make smart choices about how to learn and work in the years ahead.
Work in Some Additional Practice
It’s never too late to make a change, but entering mechanic work at a later age may leave you feeling a bit left behind. Those who started in this field from the beginning have had a chance to refine their skills over several years, while you’re starting from scratch. They’re more experienced than you, are likely doing better work and will often command higher pay. This slight starting advantage is one that you may never be able to catch up to without some pro-active choices.
In order to get up to speed as quickly as possible, you need to spend as much time as possible learning and practicing your new skills. Do some extra reading on the side, when you’re not clear on something, tinker with you own car when you get the chance, or offer to do simple jobs for family and friends. This extra input can help you to make up for lost time and begin work with your peers on a more even playing field.
Take Care of Your Body
Mechanic work is more dangerous and strenuous than most other jobs: a 2005 study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that it’s the 14th most likely career to cause non-fatal injury to workers. This can be a particular danger for older workers. While a mechanic who started breaking into the field at age 18 will almost certainly have no problem contorting themselves around faulty engines or bending over the hood of a car for hours, tasks like that usually get much harder with age.
Be sure to ask about proper ergonomic techniques while you’re in school and follow them to the letter once you start doing any hands-on work. You should also do your best to keep your body strong and flexible with regular exercise, starting when you start your training. Otherwise, you run the risk of an errant injury cutting your new career short, and starting over a third time won’t be easy.
Be Financially Prepared
Many people have undertaken significant financial responsibilities by the time they’ve gotten a few years into their first career – a mortgage, a car loan, children, and aging parents are all possible commitments that require a steady stream of income. While you can assume that your work as a mechanic will eventually grow enough to provide that, you may experience some time with very little income while you work to get yourself established in this new field.
To counteract this, you might want to save up a little extra money before you actually switch careers. Giving yourself a financial cushion to rest on will make things less stressful during the early start-up period and minimize the chances of anything going catastrophically wrong. Knowing you have these extra funds to fall back on may also help boost your confidence and make it more likely that you’ll be successful in your new line of work.
Think you’re ready to start your new mechanic career in Norfolk now? Earning an Associate’s in Occupational Science in Automotive Technology through the Advanced Technology Institute is an excellent way to start. Contact us today to learn more about how you can sign up and potentially learn how to work with all sorts of cars in as little as 75 weeks.