At minimum, a high school diploma or GED certificate is required to be an automotive service technician, also known as automobile mechanic. Many employers, however, prefer candidates to posses some college experience, such as an associate degree or certificate in automotive service technology. These programs provide classroom instruction alongside hands-on automotive service training. Internship completion is necessary for graduation at the associate level.
Automotive Service Technician Certificate
Automotive service technician certificate programs prepare students for entry-level automobile repair positions and provide the skills needed for advancement within the industry. Most certificate programs require 6-12 months of study to complete. Topics of study covered include:
- Suspension systems
- Emissions control systems
- Drive trains
Associate's Degree in Automotive Service Technology
Associate degree programs in automotive service technology require around two years of study. Students spend numerous hours in automotive laboratories studying such aspects as brakes, exhaust systems, heating and air conditioning, engines, batteries and transmissions.
Some community colleges offer specializations tailored to specific brands of automobiles. If students choose a specialization, they may work full-time in a service department of the specific dealership while attending classes. Some course topics in these programs might include:
- Automotive break systems
- Electronic fuel management systems
- Automatic transmission
- Automotive HVAC
- Automotive engines
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that automotive service technicians make a mean annual wage of $40,720 as of May 2015. It is reported that from 2014-2024, the employment for these technicians is expected to grow 5%, which is as fast as average.
Continuing Education Information
Professional automotive service organizations offer multi-day training seminars and workshops where applicants can learn about changes within the industry, including safety and updates to automotive machinery. Community college or technical schools also offer seminars within the automotive service field; applicants become informed about the latest car models, automotive electronic equipment and engine components.
Employers also send automotive service technicians to manufacturing training seminars to learn specifics about new models and to update their repair skills. Webinars, or online seminars, are another option, where applicants can stay up-to-date on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requirements or learn how to repair a specific car model.
The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence also administers industry-driven certification to automotive service technicians and professionals. Although this certification is not mandatory, according to the BLS, technicians who work in more populated areas tend to possess certification.
Applicants must have two years of experience and pass the examination. However, if applicants complete an automotive training program, one year of experience can be substituted. Certification is available in eight specialized areas, including electrical systems, suspension and brakes. To achieve master automobile technician certification, applicants must pass all eight examinations and be retested every five years to maintain certification.
Individuals looking to become automotive service technicians can pursue training at the certificate and associate's degree level. Voluntary professional certifications provide additional opportunities for automotive technicians, while seminars and workshops give technicians continuing education opportunities.