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Auto Technician Certification and Certificate Program Information

Auto technicians primarily get their training through a certificate program in automotive technology, which prepares graduates for work as entry-level mechanics. Many of the classes are taught in a classroom environment; however, students primarily learn about automotive mechanics by gaining hands-on experience in an actual garage located on campus.

Essential Information

A certificate in automotive technology program can be completed in one year or less of full-time study. A standardized exam, such as the COMPASS test, may be requested to test an applicant's competency in reading, writing and math. Also, many community colleges require that applicants have at least a GED certificate or a high school diploma. Industry certification is also important for the auto technician profession and is administered by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence.

  • Program Levels: Certificate Program, Associate's Degree
  • Prerequisites: High school diploma or equivalent, complete exam to test competency in reading writing and math
  • Program Length: One year or less

Auto Technician Certification

Auto technicians, also referred to as mechanics, are responsible for repairing and maintaining cars and trucks. A certificate program in automotive technology introduces all of the major automotive systems. Problem solving is a key component of the certificate program, and students learn to troubleshoot and think about the various problems that could affect a specific mechanical part or system. Instruction is also provided on how to interpret the information provided by diagnostic tests of onboard computers. Some courses may also cover garage safety. Typically course topics include:

  • Brakes and safety issues
  • Suspension and steering
  • HVAC
  • Engine repair and maintenance
  • Module-based automotive repairs
  • Power train repairs

Job Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), auto service technicians and mechanics can expect to see employment growth of 9% for the period from 2012 to 2022. The median annual salary in May 2014 of an auto service technician and mechanic was reported as being $37,120.

Continuing Education Information

Many graduates of a certificate program in automotive technology pursue an associate's degree. The associate's degree provides students with a more thorough introduction to the field of automotive technology and qualifies graduates to work in advanced auto technician roles. However, before applying for work, ASE certification is strongly recommended.

ASE certification is offered by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence and can be earned in one (or more) of eight specialization areas. Areas include brake systems, suspension and steering and engine repair. Auto technicians must pass at least one test and provide proof of two or more years of work experience to receive certification. This certification must be renewed every five years through additional testing.

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