How to become an apprentice mechanic: Elsa's story

Meet Elsa and learn about life as an apprentice mechanic for the North West Ambulance Service. Part of our Bitesize world of work series.

I definitely think anyone could be a mechanic, whether you're a boy or girl. It's for anyone, as long as you've got the interest.

  • Elsa was inspired to become a mechanic by her dad, who let her help him work on cars
  • As an apprentice mechanic for the North West Ambulance Service in Cumbria, she helps to look after a fleet of 91 ambulances. As they need to go above the speed limit to respond to emergencies, they need to be extra-safe, so she has to check the tyres, the brakes and steering
  • As an apprentice, Elsa works with the help of a mentor, who checks over her work
  • After her apprenticeship, she hopes to secure a position with the ambulance service as a fully-trained mechanic
  • Elsa finds it satisfying to fix a fault on an ambulance so it can go back out and help save lives.
Watch Elsa's colleagues in action on BBC One's Ambulance.

What to expect if you want to become a mechanic

If you're interested in a role like Elsa's, you can look out for apprenticeship opportunities with your local ambulance service. If you would like to be a mechanic, there are different routes available, including completing an apprenticeship or doing a training course in college, followed by time working as a trainee in a garage.

Elsa is currently an apprentice, so is still training. Fully-trained mechanics can expect the following:

  • Mechanic salary: £18,000 to £35,000 per year
  • Mechanic working hours: 38 to 45 hours per week

What qualifications do you need to be a mechanic?

  • Typical entry requirements: To be a motor mechanic, you can complete an apprenticeship as a motor vehicle service and maintenance technician. You'll do on-the-job training and spend time at a college or training provider. You'll usually need some GCSEs (or equivalent), usually including English and Maths, for an intermediate apprenticeship and five GCSEs (or equivalent) at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), including English and Maths, for an advanced apprenticeship. You could take a college course before applying for work as a trainee with a garage. Relevant courses include Level 2 Diploma in Light Vehicle Maintenance and Repair and Level 3 Diploma in Vehicle Technology. You'll usually need two or more GCSEs (or equivalent) at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D) for a Level 2 course or four or five GCSEs (or equivalent) at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) for a Level 3 course. With experience, you could become a senior technician, workshop supervisor, garage manager or set up your own business.

This information is a guide (sources: LMI for All, National Careers Service)

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