Life as an apprentice mechanic for the Ambulance Service: 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.
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What to expect if you want to be 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
  • 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)

For careers advice in all parts of the UK visit: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales

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