Whether fixing a broken car stereo or replacing it with a whole new sound system, technicians who work in this field require special skills and knowledge in electronics and automobile design. Tasks range in complexity according to audio products, vehicle models, and the sophistication of components and systems. A certificate or associate's degree program in electronics often prepares individuals for a career in the field of automotive stereo repair, as well as professional certification.
Prerequisites for programs include a high school diploma or its equivalent. Associate's degree applicants are encouraged to have a background and previous coursework in physics, algebra, woodworking, computer science or auto shop.
Certificate Programs in Car Stereo Repair
Some technical schools offer certificate programs for students looking to gain vocational skills in car audio installation and repair. Graduates are often qualified to enter the workforce and sit for an industry certification exam. Typically, certificate curricula do not include general education or elective courses. Vocational subjects include:
- Alternating current
- Audio technology
- Installation procedures
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Associate's Degree in Electronics Technology
An associate's degree provides foundational skills that can be used in a variety of work settings, including installing or repairing audio systems in vehicles. Programs are typically offered at community colleges or vocational schools. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), an associate's degree is not absolutely necessary to become a car stereo repair technician; however, a college graduate's job application is often more desirable by employers (www.bls.gov).
Students take general education courses in English, math, and natural sciences. Core classes for the electronics technology field include:
- Electrical wiring
- Analog and digital circuitry
- Fuse technology
Students of a concentrated certificate program typically qualify for entry-level positions in the automotive industry. Other possible job options include:
- Car audio installation specialist
- Automotive electronics repair technician
- Car stereo and electronics sales
- Small appliance repair
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
In 2015, the BLS stated that the median annual wage of automotive electronic equipment installers and repairers was $31,360. There were 12,470 of these workers in the same year. The majority of technicians worked in electronics and appliance stores, though state government and management, scientific and technical consulting services often paid salaries above the national average.
The automotive industry promotes car stereo repair technicians' standard of quality through professional certifications, such as the Mobile Electronics Certified Professional (MECP) offered by the Consumer Electronics Association. Certification levels range from entry-level apprentice to advanced exams for more seasoned professionals, such as the MECP Master Installation Technician certification that emphasizes diagnostics and repair.
Although both certificate and associate's degree programs in car stereo repair train students in the skills needed to repair broken car audio systems, associate's degree programs also require general education courses be completed. Upon graduation, professional certifications at a variety of levels allow technicians to showcase their skills and areas of expertise to employers.