Few areas provide more career opportunities and room for advancement than the automotive industry. People need to travel, and it’s likely driving will remain the most popular way to get from one place to another. But if you’re considering jumping into this industry, there are a few things to consider.

For one thing, how will you get there? It’s not as simple as walking in the door of a mechanic or an auto dealership and asking for a job. Taking the right steps now can make it much easier to kick-start your career in the automotive industry, so here’s everything you need to know to get started.

Find the Right Trade School

If you’re looking to find training that fits your specialty, you may want to look outside the standard college programs. While you can find engineering or business degrees there that may be relevant, at trade schools you’re likely to find a program that will let you specialize in your field of interest and command a higher rate.

One of the benefits of a trade school is that you’re likely to get much more hands-on training. You’ll be working with experts in the field, some of whom may have been working with cars for decades. You’ll also get a taste of what it’s actually like to specialize in this area, so you can determine if it’s the career path you want to take before you get a job.

If you’re hoping to become a certified mechanic, specialized programs like the Mazda automotive program can help you get a leg up in the industry. Not only will you be learning from the best, but you’ll graduate with a degree in automotive technology and work with donated Mazda vehicles and tools. You’ll get an in-person look at modern automotive technology and be better qualified to jump into the competitive world of modern auto repair.

Become an Apprentice

If you’d like to get some hands-on training without a formal college program or are looking for more personal connections in the industry, you might want to consider an apprenticeship. This is a one-on-one training program where you’ll work under a certified mechanic for a set period, helping them out on-site.

You’ll probably start with low-risk tasks that will familiarize you with the business before being moved onto the more professional repair and detailing jobs, as well as learning about tasks like inventory and estimating repair costs. Apprenticeships are a great way to learn about the business for those who are looking for a more flexible training program that works around your schedule.

Talk to Local Shops

Even if you don’t have the chance for a full internship, you can easily pick up some important tricks just by walking in the door of some quality local mechanics or auto dealerships. If you explain that you’re curious about the field, they may be willing to take you on as temporary help and let you in on some valuable knowledge. This can be a temporary job or even an informal internship where you shadow a certified mechanic.

This may start a chain reaction that could help you down the line, once you graduate or get your certification. You’ll build a connection that could be an easy way to get your first job in the field. Even if you’re not looking for a full-time position, you might be able to get some valuable advice about the best places to seek training or which areas of the field aren’t covered in the neighborhood.

Continue Your Education

This field evolves quickly, as new cars come out with new technology that even the best mechanics will have to learn in order to stay competitive. That’s why the best mechanics know that even when you’re done with your education you’re never actually done. It’s common to go back to trade school to get new certifications.

This will give your potential customers the impression that you’re someone who cares about their car enough to put the time and money into learning how to service it best. Even if you’re not actively looking for new certifications now, keep an eye out for the classes offered at trade schools and community colleges near you. A new subject popping up might be your first hint at an important change in the industry.

Find Your Way to Success

The automotive industry is a growth industry. Staying up on the latest trends is one of the best ways to prime yourself for success and find the right opening. Get started today, and you’ll be surprised by just how many doors open.