Mechanic Apprentice Job Profile: Complete Guide

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 13 October 2022

Published 25 June 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A career as a mechanic is a fulfilling profession with plenty of opportunities for career growth and healthy salary prospects. Learning how to become a mechanic apprentice is a necessary starting point to getting on the right career pathway. In this article, we look at how to get started as a mechanic apprentice, including the skills and qualifications you need, and how you can specialise and develop your career as a mechanic.

Mechanic apprentice job profile

A mechanic apprentice job profile includes details about the responsibilities you might expect in this role. A mechanic works as a tradesman using tools to repair machinery. Most mechanics tend to work toward a specific specialisation, such as motor mechanics. They are usually divided into two broad categories. Depending on the type of machinery they are repairing or building, these categories are heavyweight, such as tractors or tanks, and lightweight, such as bikes or automotive engines.

Mechanic apprentices are beginner mechanics who work in a practical environment to learn and gain experience on the job. A mechanic apprentice carries out a variety of tasks while being supervised by qualified mechanics. In general, apprentices perform vehicle inspections, diagnose problems, perform vehicle maintenance and repairs, and give customers advice regarding their vehicles. They usually work in automotive repair garages, car parts shops and car dealerships. These locations commonly hire apprentices to work either on weekdays or weekends and are assisted by mechanics, supervisors and managers.

Related: How To Become an Automotive Engineer

Types of mechanic specialisations

Mechanics work in a wide array of specialisations. You will need to research which appeals to you and which you think you have more skills in. Your mechanic apprentice training will also help you build an idea of which specialisation you prefer and which path you will need to follow. Here are some common mechanic specialisations:

  • Auto mechanic: Responsibilities include repairing and troubleshooting mechanical and electrical systems on vehicles. These include brakes, engines, transmissions and suspension. There are specific certifications for auto mechanics which require a certain type of study or training, for example, a degree in automotive technology.

  • Heavy vehicle mechanic: These will have similar responsibilities to an auto mechanic, but instead of autos, they repair large equipment such as cranes, farm equipment and bulldozers. You will also find that you will have to travel to the equipment when it cannot be easily moved.

  • Motorcycle mechanic: Responsibilities include repairing and diagnosing all types of motorcycle systems including engine, brakes and fuel. Certifications are usually attained via manufacturers.

  • Small engine mechanic: Responsibilities include repairing and diagnosing problems with small vehicle engines such as lawnmowers, snowmobiles and jet skis. These types of mechanics can work seasonally or full time, and either work for a company or independently.

  • Diesel mechanic: Responsibilities include repairing and troubleshooting diesel vehicles such as trains, buses and tractors. Some diesel mechanics train on the job, but you can also attend further or higher education.

  • Race car mechanic: These mechanics deal with high-performance cars and have similar responsibilities to auto mechanics. They will also work together with the driver to find ways to improve a car's performance.

Mechanic apprentice duties

A mechanic apprentice's duties include:

  • Repairing petrol and diesel engines.

  • Using checklists to inspect and repair vehicles.

  • Testing vehicles both before commencing to repair and after reparations.

  • Performing standard mechanical repairs, such as changing brake pads.

  • Attaching car batteries to in-shop testing devices to determine functionality.

  • Conducting roadworthiness inspections of vehicles.

  • Performing inspections on different car parts.

  • Ordering new car parts by phone or online.

  • Learning repair techniques under the supervision of the mechanic.

  • Maintaining the workshop and customer areas and keeping inventory areas well-organised.

  • Recording attendance hours.

Related: The Pros and Cons of Apprenticeships To Guide Your Career

Mechanic apprentice salary

A mechanic starting salary can vary depending on certain factors such as the level of experience you have, training you have received and even where you are working. This salary will increase over time as you widen your knowledge, gain more experience and develop your skills. According to recent market statistics in the UK, the average salary is around £15,983 per year. However, there is a range of salaries depending on your experience and expertise, starting from £10,511 per year for entry-level positions, and going up to £27,300 per year for highly experienced mechanics.

Apprentice mechanics may receive a basic benefits package from their employers which can include paid holiday and paid sick days. Further benefits can be added to your package once your training period has finished and you are promoted to a mechanic. This can include retirement packages and life insurance.

Related: How Much Does a Mechanic Make

What mechanic apprentice skills do I need?

Mechanics need a range of hard skills and soft skills for success. To begin a mechanic career, a level of education will be required, as well as training at a technical school. Apprentice mechanics will need a certain number of GCSEs, a diploma or equivalent to begin this career. You will also need a valid driving licence and know how to drive both automatic and manual vehicles.

Different certifications, such as a forklift certification, can be attractive to prospective employers. Whilst working, a mechanic apprentice will need to undertake training which can last between 12 weeks and a year before advancing to further opportunities. Starting out as a mechanic apprentice, it is expected that you will not have a high level of experience and hard skills, aside from education, so a range of soft skills is advantageous to carry out training effectively. You will also find that a certain level of physical fitness is required, for example, when working lying down or lifting heavy equipment.

Soft skills

The most important soft skills for a mechanic apprentice are:

  • Willingness to learn: Employers favour people who have a positive attitude to the tasks given and an eagerness to work.

  • Strong customer service: Mechanic apprentices may need to communicate with clients, so they will need to have strong customer service skills and know how to handle difficult situations with customers.

  • Communication: In order for you to succeed in the workplace, you must be able to communicate effectively. You will need to know how to relay your message with clarity to avoid any misunderstandings. One of the main factors is to listen effectively, which is especially valuable in industries where risk or damage is involved.

  • Critical thinking: People who can analyse situations and make informed decisions are highly sought after. For a mechanic apprentice role, this can be helpful when it comes to inspections, reviews and diagnosing problems.

  • Attention to detail: This skill is very necessary for a mechanic apprentice. Employers in this industry will want candidates who can focus on specific details when repairing vehicles and who will not overlook anything.

Hard skills

The most important hard skills for a mechanic apprentice are:

  • Language skills: The ability to comprehend instructions, both written and verbal, as well as email and telephone correspondence. You may need to effectively present information to customers or other team members. You will also need to read safety rules, operating instructions and machine manuals, as well as write reports.

  • Mathematical skills: A mechanic apprentice will need to have a foundation of mathematic skills, including the ability to add, subtract, multiply and divide to calculate different figures, for example, discounts and commissions. You will also need the ability to use different measurements such as weight, volume and distance.

Related: What Are Hard Skills and Soft Skills?

Mechanic apprentice education

You can carry out an intermediate apprenticeship or an advanced apprenticeship. Both are paid and include specific training which leads to an industry-recognised certification. Many companies will hire mechanic apprentices whereby you train in their centre combined with college or training provider study on certain days, agreed with the employer. These can last up to three years and result in a Level 2 or 3 diploma. As you progress, you may be given more responsibility and develop your career further.

In order to begin a mechanic apprenticeship in the UK, you will usually need the following entry requirements:

  • Intermediate apprenticeship: GCSEs, usually including English and Maths, or equivalent

  • Advanced apprenticeship: Five GCSEs in grades 9 to 4 (A to C), or equivalent, including English and Maths

Related: How To Write a Successful Mechanic CV (With Example)

Mechanic apprentice job interview

Although no specific training or experience is needed for apprenticeships, it is worth researching and preparing for job interview questions. Although an apprenticeship is a beginner's role, it is important to show you know about the industry and that you have a genuine desire to develop a career in it. You will come across job-specific questions, where you will need to indicate your level of understanding and knowledge. Questions will also look for analytical and problem-solving skills.

Job-specific questions

Typical job-specific interview questions can include:

  • What experience do you have working with vehicles or mechanical equipment?

  • What steps would you follow when inspecting damage?

  • Describe methods to inspect vehicles and record findings.

  • What equipment have you found useful when diagnosing problems?

  • Describe a time when you have successfully repaired a machine or vehicle.

Related: Careers in mechanics (with salaries and responsibilities)

General questions

Typical general interview questions can include:

  • Describe an experience where you have had to analyse a problem and find a solution.

  • Share an experience where your attention to detail was needed.

  • Tell us about a time when you had to handle a difficult situation in a calm manner.

  • Explain how you plan your work.

  • Tell us an example where you have had to think creatively.

Related: A guide on how to ace an interview (with tips and examples)

Salary figures reflect data listed on the quoted websites at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate’s experience, academic background and location. This article is based on information available at the time of writing, which may change at any time. Indeed does not guarantee that this information is always up-to-date. Please seek out a local resource for the latest on this topic.

Explore more articles