Mechanic Programs and Career Training Requirements
Students who want to pursue careers as auto mechanics can enroll in certificate or associate degree programs in automotive mechanics. Learn about the topics these programs cover, the career outlook for the field and continuing education opportunities.
A Certificate in Auto Mechanics program covers electrical systems, brakes, engine repairs and correct use of diagnostic computers qualifying grads to be general service mechanics. An associate degree program provides more in-depth study covering engine repair and performance, HVAC, steering and suspension, brakes and electrical systems. Hands-on experience is required for each program.
Certificate in Auto Mechanics
An auto mechanic certificate program can be completed in a year of full-time study; these types of curricula introduce students to the field of automotive technology. Students enrolled in an auto mechanics certificate program should make sure that it is approved by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. Students must have a high school diploma or GED certificate for admission. They'll then be required to test their automobile repair knowledge by working in a garage located on campus. A certificate program in auto mechanics does not usually allow students to major in a particular area. However, coursework emphasizes the most important systems in an automobile. Some possible course topics include:
- Engine repair
- Automotive technology
- Diagnostic equipment
- Brake systems
- Electrical systems of an automobile
Associate of Applied Science in Auto Mechanics
An Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Auto Mechanics degree program provides students with a thorough understanding of the automobile and its various systems. The degree qualifies students to work as full-time mechanics and will prepare them for the ASE certification exams, which should be taken before applying for jobs. Community colleges require that applicants complete high school or have a GED certificate. Auto repair applicants should be comfortable working with tools and have strong problem solving abilities. Additionally, scores for the ACT or some other standardized exam, such as COMPASS, may be required for admission. The curriculum of an AAS degree program in auto mechanics introduces students to all of the important systems of an automobile. Some of the courses may include:
- Brake systems and service
- Engine repair
- Manual Drive Train
- Fundamentals of welding
Job Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) reports that the employment of auto mechanics will increase by 5% for the period 2014-2024. The median annual salary, also reported by the BLS, was $37,850 in 2015.
Continuing Education Information
Graduates of a 2-year degree program who plan to work as mechanics in large urban areas are encouraged to complete certification by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. ASE certification includes tests in eight practice areas. Some of these areas include brakes, steering and suspension, engine performance, transmission and electrical systems. Completion of certification demonstrates knowledge and expertise in auto service mechanics and may also boost career prospects.
To first gain a foundation as an auto mechanic, students can embark on either a certificate or an associate degree program, where they'll gain a basic understanding of automobile components. Pursuing further ASE certification can then improve knowledge and hirability in the field.