Automotive mechanics and technicians learn their trade on-the-job, whereas some decide to enroll in academic degree programs at community colleges or vocational schools. There are programs that focus on certain vehicle manufacturers, whereas other programs provide training in automotive repair.
Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) Program in Automotive Technology
Students enrolled in Associate’s degree programs in automotive technology are provided with the technical knowledge and skills related to various automotive systems. Students become adept at recognizing the various components involved in the running of automobiles and using this knowledge in the diagnosis and repair of malfunctions. Coursework in most degree programs in the area of concentration place on stress diagnostic procedures, in addition to skills relating to general automotive servicing, maintenance and repair.
Degree programs in automotive technology are mainly aimed at training students to pursue entry-level jobs as technicians or mechanics. Classroom lectures are augmented with hands on training in which students would have to work on actual vehicles for a minimum number of hours. Internships at local repair shops or automobile dealerships are included in some programs.
Admission criteria usually require applicants to hold a GED certificate or high school diploma. Some programs require students interested in admission to complete high school-level classes in English, algebra, science and workshop technology.
Coursework in broad-based automotive technology degree programs includes courses in various automotive systems. Such coursework may specifically include topic areas such as:
•Fuel and emission control systems
•Vehicular safety testing
•Automotive air condition
•Automotive electrical systems
Graduates of an associate’s degree in automotive technology can pursue entry-level jobs in various fields such as manufacturing, sales, maintenance and repair. They can aspire for some certain jobs such as:
•Automotive repair shop operator
•Automotive parts department manager
•Mechanic and automotive technician
•Dealership service specialist
•Automotive manufacturing technician
Job and Wage Outlook
From 2010-2020, automotive service mechanics and technicians are projected to see accumulation in employment opportunities by 17% (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). The mean yearly wages for automotive service mechanics and technicians, in May 2012, were $39,060.
While job givers in the field don’t insist on candidates holding professional certification, many technicians and mechanics volunteer for certification to showcase their skills and knowledge in specific aspects of repair. Several certifications for professionals are offered by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), including under-body specialist, automobile service and collision repair. A certain amount of work experience and passage of an exam on their field of specialty are required, for candidates, to become eligible for certification.