An automotive technology certificate 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 a program 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.
Upon program completion, graduates can apply to associate's degree programs or prepare for industry certification exams administered by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence.
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
- 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 5% for the period from 2014 to 2024. The median annual salary as of May 2015 for an auto service technician and mechanic was reported as $37,850.
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.
In summary, if you want to become an auto technician it is advisable to enroll in a certificate program in automotive technology. For those looking to pursue more advanced positions in the field, consider further education options such as an associate's degree.