A certificate program or Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree program in automotive technology consists of coursework that covers automotive repair, electronics and computer systems. Specific topics may include brake systems, vehicle safety inspection and air conditioning systems. Typically, certificate programs take less than a year to complete, while A.S.S. degree programs take two years.
Prerequisites vary for certificate programs. A high school diploma or GED and satisfactory scores on an academic placement test are common requirements for A.A.S. degree programs. To complete these programs lab work and internships are also common requirements. Knowledgeable graduates might go on to pursue a professional certification. Potential career outcomes include assistant auto repair technician and auto parts sales specialist. Continuing education courses may also be offered at some community colleges.
Certificate in Car Technology
A certificate program in car technology teaches students the basic skills needed for entry-level positions in the auto service and repair fields. Students explore the diagnostic and service tools and tests required to maintain today's automobiles. Many institutions offer evening and weekend courses to allow for attendance by individuals interested in a career change.
Most certificate programs feature a concentrated core curriculum with few other academic requirements. However, students are required to take traditional courses, such as algebra or public speaking. The necessity of these more traditional courses is a reflection of the increasing sophistication of automotive technology as well as the importance placed on satisfactory customer service. Sample core course titles are listed below.
- Introduction to engine performance
- Basic diagnostics
- Brake systems
- Auto electrical fundamentals
- Auto HVAC systems
- Introduction to schematics
Associate of Applied Science Degree in Automotive Technology
The Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree program in Automotive Technology teaches students the skills needed to diagnose and repair all types of automobiles. Prospective degree candidates are taught the latest service and diagnostic techniques.
Students enroll in a small number of liberal arts electives in addition to the core automotive curriculum. Some programs also offer a few business courses to help prepare the student who plans on operating his or her own garage. Sample core curriculum course titles include:
- Engine service
- Automotive diagnostics
- Manual transmissions
- Steering, alignment and suspension
- Service fundamentals
- Advanced automotive electronics
Popular Career Options
A certificate in auto technology enables students to pursue entry-level jobs in the auto repair and maintenance field. Sample job titles include:
- Apprentice auto technician
- Assistant repair technician
- Auto parts salesperson
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job opportunities for automotive repair technicians and mechanics were expected to increase by 5% between 2014 and 2024. The median salary for this position was $37,850 as of May 2015. Job prospects will be brightest for those applicants who have some post-secondary education and training (www.bls.gov).
Some institutions design their certificate programs so that upon successfully completing the courses, students may enroll in an associate's degree program as a 2nd-year student. Interested students should check the transfer-of-credit policies of the institutions in question.
Owing to factors including the ever-increasing role of computers in the car manufacturing and repair industry, automotive technology is constantly evolving. Auto mechanics and technicians need to stay on top of these changes by enrolling in continuing education classes and seminars. These classes are often offered by car manufacturers or auto-parts manufacturers and are most commonly held at community colleges or trade schools.
In addition, the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification has become a standard automotive service technician credential. ASE certification requires two years of experience and a passing score on the ASE exam. Individuals can contact the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence for more information (www.ase.com.)
A certificate program in car technology can prepare students for entry level jobs as automotive service technicians and mechanics, while an A.A.S. degree program in Automotive Technology will take it a step further. Regardless of which path is chosen the continuous development of automotive technology makes continuing education vital.