Since the very first cars rolled out onto streets, mechanics have been needed to help with maintenance and repairs. Automobiles, since their first appearance towards the end of the 19th century, have come in a dizzying variety of shapes, sizes, and new editions. To service the vehicles of each period, auto mechanics have needed to consistently adapt and learn, which they have done with impressive ingenuity. Here is a quick history of just how this career has evolved over time.
Auto Mechanic Careers in a Time Before Standard Parts and Production
Before the arrival of the game-changing Ford Model T in 1908, the world of automobiles was a pretty wild one. Automobiles were viewed as rare upper-class curiosities by the general public. Owners had to turn to mechanically-minded tradesmen including plumbers, bicycle mechanics, and cobblers to try to fabricate new parts and eke out ways to keep cars on the road.
Many early professionals who worked as mechanics were considered servants and were also responsible for chauffeuring their employers around. It took some time for wealthy car owners to appreciate the need for trained auto mechanics, and time for this skill set to become a dedicated career path in its own right.
The Growth of Professionalism in Auto Mechanic Careers
Ford’s revolutionary assembly line method massively cut the amount of time needed to produce a car and made automobiles attainable for far more people. As a result, auto mechanics were no longer needed by the wealthy elite alone, and the auto repair shop was born.
The role of the dedicated auto mechanic began to emerge. Workers willing to move into this role could count on more standardization and availability of parts to make their job somewhat easier. As car ownership swelled, the number of workers opting to become a mechanic grew and the profession became more recognized.
Specialization Takes Place in Automotive Careers
During the economic boom after WWII, more and more white and blue collar workers were able to afford their own cars. With new producers and exciting designs racing through the market, the repair industry began to apply more structure and role specialization in shops.
This included the splitting of auto detailing from the auto mechanic career role, as owners relinquished their car care to trained professionals.
Auto Mechanics Now Use Electronic Diagnostic Tools Alongside Traditional Tools
With the current changes taking place in the auto industry, including the emergence of self-driving cars and the increasing computer power in our vehicles, the role of the mechanic is expected to continue to gradually morph.
Key skilled service tasks like replacing brake pads, fixing worn out parts, and more will be just as required as ever, but the skilled modern mechanic will likely spend more time using the increasingly powerful diagnostic framework within cars to find and troubleshoot problems, while relying on a solid auto mechanic skill set beyond this.
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